The great victory of the January 6 committee has already marked

The committee is once again taking center stage in Washington this week with its televised hearing on Tuesday amid indications it will seek to draw a direct link between Trump and the far-right extremists who helped rioters make its way through the halls of Congress on January 6, 2021.
It comes after the committee dealt heavy blows last week by securing closed-door testimony from former White House attorney Pat Cipollone and as Trump lifted his dubious executive privilege claim covering former aide Steve Bannon.
Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren, a member of the panel, told CNN’s ‘State of the Union’ Jake Tapper on Sunday that excerpts of videotaped testimony from Cipollone – who was alongside or near Trump in West Wing and, according to other witnesses, pushed back on its anarchic instincts – would then figure that the committee is planning at least one hearing this week.
“He was able to provide information on virtually every critical issue we are looking at, including the president’s, what I would call a dereliction of duty on the day of Jan. 6,” Lofgren said referring to testimony. of Friday. A source familiar with Cipollone’s interview told CNN’s Pamela Brown that the former White House attorney, testifying under subpoena, invoked executive privilege on certain matters – to protect certain information or conversations with the then President of Congress as part of the separation of powers. doctrine.

Lofgren also said the committee will likely hear from Bannon, who is expected to stand trial later this month for his refusal to submit to a subpoena on the grounds that he was covered by executive privilege. This claim is considered fallacious by many legal observers since Bannon had long since left his role as White House adviser by the time of the 2020 election.

Bannon is now willing to testify, ideally at a public hearing, according to a letter obtained by CNN. Such a platform could allow him to mount the kind of high-profile, inflammatory defense of Trump that the ex-president loves but is lacking in the committee’s televised hearings. Lofgren told CNN that such a forum was unlikely.

Trump has sought to block and discredit the committee at every turn. His supporters in Congress stifled the demand for an independent commission, and his top aides, along with Bannon, refused to honor subpoenas. But that hasn’t stopped the panel from creating a picture of the ex-president’s behavior that is even more disturbing than the video and public evidence that was previously available.

As it enters the likely final stage of its investigation, the committee gathers momentum and launches a serious debate on a question with staggering implications: Should a former president of the United States be indicted for alleged crimes? against the Constitution that occurred while he was in office?

What the committee revealed

Through witnesses who rubbed shoulders with Trump, tons of text messages, interviews with key players and even family members of the ex-president, the committee has built a damning dossier on his insurgent behavior.

  • Trump has repeatedly been told by campaign aides, lawyers and White House officials that he lost to Joe Biden in November 2020. But he persisted with fantastic allegations of voter fraud that went deep. damaged American democracy.
  • He has imposed extreme pressure on local Republican leaders in key states like Arizona and Georgia to reverse Biden’s election victories and his attacks have severely affected the lives of election workers in Peach State.
  • The former president tried to intimidate senior Justice Department officials into simply saying the election was stolen to bolster his efforts to overturn the results in battleground states, witnesses said. He only backed down under the threat of mass resignations.
  • Trump knew some of the protesters at his Jan. 6 rally were armed, but urged them to march to Capitol Hill to disrupt certification of Biden’s election victory anyway, according to key witness testimony, Cassidy Hutchinson, who worked for ex-White Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.
  • As protesters called for then-Vice President Mike Pence to be hanged, Trump told staff that Pence deserved it after failing to implement Trump’s plan to overturn the election results, Hutchinson said. in another explosive testimony.

What it all means so far

  • With each hearing and each key witness who speaks to the committee, the case against Trump grows stronger. The ex-president’s attempt to conceal key details about his dereliction of duty failed.
  • The committee’s testimony, its use of videotaped testimony from key witnesses, and the live appearance of some others created a stunning narrative of an assault on the American political system that is still hard to come to terms with.
  • The impact of the testimony bolsters debate over whether the committee, which lacks the power to initiate criminal charges, should nonetheless recommend a Justice Department investigation of Trump.
  • The question is whether a case would be strong enough to warrant a risky prosecution of an ex-president. It is important to remember that hearings are similar to a prosecutor presenting a case. But none of the witnesses have been cross-examined, the holes in their testimony have not been ironed out, and the panel is presumably only gathering the evidence and testimony that best fits their case.
  • The committee exists in a political context as well as in an investigative context. A survey including Democrats and two Republicans who rejected Trump — Representatives Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois — has always been unlikely to change the GOP’s view of the ex-president. Most polls show attitudes toward the committee split along partisan lines. But the evidence accumulated by the panel could still have a role in Republican politics. This poses an implicit question to GOP primary voters about whether they really want to make the 2024 election a repeat of Trump’s lies about 2020. And whether general election voters choose Trump in 2024, no one can tell. that they were not warned of his threat. to American democracy.
  • Ultimately, it will be up to Attorney General Merrick Garland and senior Justice Department officials to decide whether the evidence gathered by the committee rises to the level of criminal liability. It would be one of the most acute political questions an attorney general has had to face in recent years.
  • Indeed, a Trump lawsuit would not only unleash a dreadful political storm. This could set a precedent that could lead to abuse in years to come. A future unscrupulous administration could, for example, turn the power of the Justice Department against political opponents who lose power. That in itself would pose a huge risk to the integrity of American democracy.
  • Trump is looking forward to launching a presidential campaign in 2024, even before the midterm elections, CNN reported. The goal may not just be to block potential GOP rivals and capitalize on Biden’s low approval numbers. A new campaign would make it easier for Trump to label any official investigation against him as politically motivated.

The criminal angle

Ty Cobb, a former White House attorney for Trump, told CNN on Thursday that the results of the hearings so far show that Trump deserves blame for his role on January 6, 2021, which the committee found ” serious facts” which concerned him. greatly and that a fee might be a possibility.

“It depends on the crime,” Cobb told CNN’s Erin Burnett.

“It’s everything from seditious conspiracy to trying to influence a witness,” Cobb said. But he cautioned: “I think the Justice Department has an important decision to make regarding the prosecution of former presidents. Although it is a routine, it seems, in South America, the United States has not seen this. And it will be an important political decision. “

Larry Hogan, the Republican term-limited governor of Maryland who is often mentioned as a long-term alternative to Trump in the 2024 primary, was asked on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday if the country could handle the indictment. of a former president.

“I’m not sure they can,” Hogan said. “But I think no man is above the law, so if that’s where the facts lead, that’s what has to happen,” Hogan said.

The committee can do no more at this time than to flesh out its file. And this week, he will seek to prove that the ex-president failed in his duty to defend the democratic system, when he attacked it.

Kinzinger told ABC News’ “This Week” on Sunday that another upcoming hearing would be “very important.”

“Pay attention, because I think this goes to the heart of what a leader’s oath is,” the Illinois Republican said. “You can’t selectively choose which parts of the Constitution you stand for or which branches of government, and you certainly can’t be merry during it.”

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