New Jan. 6 revelation raises questions about Trump’s legal hurdles – CBS News

Washington – It was revealed late Tuesday that the Justice Department’s investigation into the events of January 6, 2021now includes Questions about verbs Former President Donald Trump and his allies have increased speculation about whether the former president could face legal trouble over his conduct related to the attack. As federal prosecutors even Attorney General Merrick Garland face increasing outside pressure to impeach Trump, the critical question remains about what federal crimes can be successfully brought to court and the former president’s prosecution.

As part of its investigation, the Department of Justice has been studying a scheme to name it Fake presidential voter lists For Trump on key states he lost on the battlefield in the 2020 presidential election. The Justice Department also examined the actions surrounding the January 6 attack, when a group of the former president’s supporters, many of them armed, broke into the Capitol to prevent Congress from counting the state’s votes and re-run Confirmation of President Biden’s victory.

Previous aides worked in the Trump White House, including Mark Short, who served as former Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff Testified before a federal grand jury Investigation of the attack, targeted US law enforcement elements Former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark And the Conservative attorney John Eastman As part of the investigation.

Trump, Eastman and Clark have not been charged with any crimes or charged with wrongdoing, and news about the former president’s behavior does not indicate that Trump is the target of any federal investigation. The former president insists he did nothing wrong, and continues to claim, without evidence, that the election was rigged.

Keynote Speakers at America's First Agenda Summit
Former US President Donald Trump speaks during the First American Policy Institute’s First American Agenda Summit in Washington, D.C., United States, on Tuesday, July 26, 2022. Trump’s remarks come on the heels of a House hearing that depicted him standing indifferent, even vengeful, For hours, a mob of supporters clashed with police and chased lawmakers into the halls of the Capitol. Photographer: Al Drago / Bloomberg via Getty Images

Bloomberg


The investigation is being conducted by federal prosecutors along with a wide-ranging examination of the events surrounding January 6 from a House select committee, which is over Part of eight public hearings last week, though more is expected.

Across the hearings, the House committee outlined what it described as a multi-pronged campaign by Trump to stay in power, which included efforts penny pressure And the State election officials To reverse the results of the 2020 presidential election, and Pay senior officials of the Ministry of Justice To challenge the election result, culminating with The mob of his supporters He descends violently on the Capitol.

However, the former president’s plans eventually failed, and Biden’s plans failed Victory is confirmed Congress in the early hours of the morning of January 7.

Despite this failure, legal analysts and former attorneys general have poached two specific criminal charges they say may pose a legal threat to the former president: obstruction of an official procedure — the January 6 joint session of Congress to count electoral votes — and a conspiracy to defraud the United States. Experts said that the accusations will focus on Trump’s alleged knowledge that the elections were not stolen and his attempt to stop the peaceful transfer of power despite his knowledge of his loss.

Randall Eliasson, a former assistant US attorney for the District of Columbia, said the obstruction charges come from a plan to name fake voters to cast ballots for Trump and the strategy Eastman devised for Pence to reject electoral votes by one of the major states. During the January 6 proceedings or returned to the state legislatures.

Meanwhile, a conspiracy to defraud the United States applies to corrupt efforts to obstruct lawful government function: the ratification of election results by Congress on January 6.

“For any of the charges, it would all be of the nature of a conspiracy charge,” Eliasson, a professor of law at George Washington University, told CBS News. The conspiracy charge requires a broader plan among the other defendants to commit a crime. “There is a possibility that senior people like Rudy Giuliani and Mark Meadows are also involved in the same case.”

No charges have been brought against Meadows, Trump’s former chief of staff, nor his outside attorney Giuliani. A House committee on January 6 recommended that Meadows be charged in contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with a subpoena, but the Justice Department refused to indict him.

Eliasson said the Justice Department may also pursue a seditious conspiracy charge, although that would require prosecutors to show that Trump conspired to use force “to prevent, impede or delay the implementation of any law of the United States.” members Section guards And the proud boysTwo extreme right-wing extremist groups have been accused of seditious plotting for their role in the January 6 attack.

Scott Frederiksen, a former federal prosecutor and independent counsel, said bringing charges such as seditious conspiracy and incitement to riot against the former president would require a “higher level” of evidence for prosecutors, who would have to indict Trump and successfully try to convict him. at trial.

Frederiksen believes that the Department of Justice should study the “full concept” of the so-called “big lie,” the allegation Trump constantly pushes that the election was stolen. He said prosecutors “should be able to prove that Trump knew he lost the election, that this election was not stolen, and that was a complete slander,” which, according to Frederiksen, will make the allegations of Trump and beyond. Attempts to prevent the transfer of power are a possible aspect of a criminal conspiracy.

“It’s not just January 6th, January 6th is, in some ways, the climax,” Frederiksen told CBS News.

The testimony obtained by the commission sheds new light on the extent to which senior White House and administration officials, as well as campaign advisers, told Trump that his allegations of widespread voter fraud were unfounded and encouraged him to accept his loss, even though their warnings did little. Deter Trump’s tireless efforts to thwart the transfer of power.

While Eliasson said that much of what the select committee has uncovered in the course of its investigations so far is potentially relevant to the case against Trump, “criminal charges carry a much greater burden of proof.”

“It should be as close to the air as possible, because it is quite another thing to have testimony in a hearing that is not challenged, to have it in a trial where you are subject to cross-examination and defense witnesses.” “This would be a completely different kind of animal. You have to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in front of an anonymous jury of 12 people.”

Looming is the prospect of Trump facing charges of the unprecedented nature of such a case, as never before in US history where a former president has been impeached by the Department of Justice, let alone one who continues to provoke another provocation in the White House.

Eliasson said the decision to file criminal charges would be “the most important decision any prosecutor makes,” and raises “heavy” issues for consideration, including that such a move would involve the former chief opposition’s litigation administration. Ceremony.

Frederiksen agreed: “The whole idea of ​​politics pervades this whole affair. Which is why I think the Department of Justice is so eager and reluctant to investigate, let alone indict, a former president. … It has never been done before because it will be recognized by a large part of the the country as a political litigation.”

“The attorney general will shy away from bringing charges for any crime in which he uses some kind of political activity. The attorney general will not go into that,” Frederiksen said, adding that the legal line between political and criminal acts presents a complex roadblock for prosecutors. On the one hand, it can be political, but when it is used with the idea of ​​overthrowing the government, it is criminal.”

To avoid the perception of politicization, Frederiksen said, prosecutors should proceed as they would in any other criminal case by interviewing witnesses, securing cooperation, and gathering as much evidence as possible.

“There is no special formula,” he added.

With each new revelation of events surrounding January 6th, Garland continued to come under scrutiny about future actions by the Department of Justice. in Interview with NBC News Aired Tuesday, Garland stressed, as he did before, that the Department of Justice “will bring to justice everyone who has been criminally responsible for interfering with the peaceful transfer of power from one administration to another, a fundamental component of our democracy.”

Still, Garland A vow to hold it all Those who broke the law, “at any level,” have done little to pacify some Democrats in Congress and Trump critics, who are pushing for a case to be brought quickly.

But Eliasson said the investigation was moving at a pace that should be expected given its “size and complexity” and noted that the prosecutions arising from Watergate and Enron spanned several years.

“Prosecutors are going up the ladder higher and higher and closer and closer to the inner circle,” he said, referring to Short’s recent appearance before a grand jury. “We don’t know how that ends, it doesn’t mean the charges will be justified, it just means they’re doing what Garland said, starting with hooliganism and working your way up.”

The Justice Department and the US Attorney’s Office in Washington declined to comment.

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