A select committee of the US Congress is expected to vote on Monday to refer to the Justice Department at least three criminal referrals against Donald Trump in relation to the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol as lawmakers met to certify Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election.
The three charges are expected to be obstruction of an official proceeding of the Congress, conspiracy to defraud the US, and insurrection, as the attack has been called.
Aides of the former President are also expected to be referred to the Justice Department – former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clarke and another lawyer John Eastman.
Criminal referrals such as these have no legal weight, but the Justice Department is already investigating the January 6 attack – led by special counsel, Jack Smith, who has added a new sense of urgency.
The bipartisan select committee of the US House of Representatives is scheduled to take the vote later in the day and is likely to also release an executive summary of their report, based on their 18-month long investigation, which included several high-profile public congressional hearings that included several Trump aides.
The criminal reference against Trump will be unprecedented and will add to the already sullied record of the former President, which includes two impeachments — one while in office, and the other after leaving — and a host of criminal and civil cases he is currently embroiled in.
Hordes of Trump supporters had descended upon the US Capitol on January 6 after a rousing speech from the former President and aides to stop a joint meeting of the two chambers of the Congress — the Senate and the House of Representatives — from certifying Biden as the winner of the 2020 presidential election, ignoring Trump’s false claims that he lost because of election fraud.
The former President has continued to hawk these same claims, making it a litmus test for Republicans seeking his support and endorsement.
Trump has announced he is running for the Republican nomination for presidential nominee in 2024 in a move, many experts have said, that is intended to help him fight possible prosecution for January 6 and a bunch of other criminal investigations currently underway against him. He would cite his candidature to allege the investigations are politically motivated.
A select committee of the US Congress voted on Monday to refer to the Justice Department four criminal charges against former President Donald Trump in relation to the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol as lawmakers met to certify Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election.
The four charges are obstruction of an official proceeding of the Congress, conspiracy to defraud the US and insurrection, as the January 6 attack has been called, and putting together fake list of electors, who would technically confirm Biden’s election in the final stage of presidential election.
Aides of the former President have also referred to the Justice Department — Mark Meadows, his final Chief of Staff, and the lawyers Rudolph W. Giuliani, John Eastman, Jeffrey Clark and Kenneth Chesebro.
The committee has also named four members of the House for ethics investigation.
Criminal referrals such as there have no legal weight and the Justice Department is not bound to take them up, but they could be considered given that the Justice Department is already investigating the January 6 attack — led by a special counsel, Jack Smith, who has added a new sense of urgency.
The bipartisan select committee of the US House of Representatives took the vote in its final public hearing also released an executive summary of their report based on their 18-month-long investigation, which included several high-profile public Congressional hearings that included several Trump’s aides.
“That evidence has led to an overriding and straightforward conclusion: the central cause of January 6 was one man, former President Donald Trump, who many others followed,” the report states.
“None of the events of January 6 would have happened without him.”
Is the GOP reaching a tipping point to disavow Trump?
Time and again former US President Donald Trump seems to be rising like the phoenix from the ashes despite all the legal woes heavily loaded against him, and a divided America wonders when the tipping point would be reached when the Republican Party finally disavows him for the sake of bettering its own future well before the 2024 Presidential elections.
Trump preempted his VP Mike Pence and Ron DeSantis, Florida governor, the only Republican who could sway the voters in the November midterms, while Trump’s candidates fell like a pack of cards prompting his once best ally media baron Rupert Murdoch to lampoon him on his paper New York Post as ‘Trumpty and Dumpty’ alluding to the nursery rhyme ‘Humpty Dumpty’.
Murdoch got edits written against Trump in Wall Street Journal as Fox TV News turned against him as a goner.
America is now asking the biggest political question: When will the GOP finally reach its anti-Trump tipping point when a majority of the Republican lawmakers don’t want him or want to disavow him, said Robert Reich, former Labour Secretary to then US President Bill Clinton.
Reich, who was the head of the transition team for Bill Clinton when he became the President and an erudite scholar, said in an opinion piece in the Tribune, “Again and again it looks like the tipping point is near but the GOP remains under Trump’s thumb.”
Reich recalled the dinner at Mar-a-Lago that Trump had with Ye, better known earlier as Kanye West, the man whose fame as a rapper had been dwarfed by his anti-Semitic and racist declarations as also his association with the notorious Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes.
These two events didn’t add up to the tipping scales. It didn’t come anywhere near tipping the scales, said Reich.
Reich also recalled Trump’s December 3 declaration that the “Massive Fraud” of the 2020 elections would allow for the Constitution to be “terminated”.
A man who takes oaths and swears by the Constitution wants the Constitution to be terminated to uphold his election, he said.
Yet, this did not cut ice with the majority of the Republicans. Both events did cause some Republicans to grumble but most of them avoided criticising Trump for the fear of inviting his wrath. The same thing happened as most Republicans avoided doing so the moment the furore over the January 6 riots had died down. And despite the devastating revelations about his inaction during the riots near the Congress building which endangered the lives of several Congressmen, which included his vice president Mike Pence.
But why these republicans are fearing Trump despite his poor showing at the November midterms, Reich asked.
During Reich’s term as Labour Secretary and head of the economic transition team, Bill Clinton’s Presidency was pushed to another level with public confidence in the government reaching as high as 70 per cent, the highest ever recorded for a President in recent history. And the gap between the rich and the urban middle and the poor also closed to less than 2.7 per cent, which shot up close to 30 per cent when the Republican regime came in after Clinton’s Presidency. This was called the inequity index.
The Clinton Presidency with advisor Reich has often been hailed as the golden period of economic change in the country when the middle class, the backbone of the American economy, was empowered.
Labour unions had a say in the management, all of which disappeared as Republicans took over and crushed the unions, Reich had said in an elaborate presentation in a documentary feature.
Reich said that all of Trump’s endorsees have flamed out, including celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania, Tim Michel’s in Wisconsin, Blake Masters in Arizona, Adam Laxalt and Kari Lake in Arizona, and Herschel Walker in Georgia.
Walker’s campaign even asked Trump to stay away in the final weeks sensing he was going to lose, as he finally did in the Dec 6 run off with Democrat Raphael Warnock who increased the Democrat’s senate strength to 51.
Many election-deniers hit the skids in the November midterms, Reich pointed out.
Michigan’s legislature swung to the Democrats for the first time since the 1980s. Democrats successfully proved wrong the pollsters doomsday forecasts and also reversed the historic pattern of incumbent Presidents losing midterms � as Joe Biden limited the losses to just about 9 seats in the House of Representatives — 222 vs 213 in the House.
Trump in his Presidency lost almost 40 seats, and even Bill Clinton lost over 60 seats while Barack Obama lost over 30 seats. Yet both Clinton and Obama won the Presidential term for a second time because of their policies.
Many viewed the midterms as a referendum on Trump rather than on Biden.
As Mitch McConnell elaborated, Republicans “were frightened” by the Trump-induced GOP rhetoric, “and so they pulled back”, Reich said.
And it’s only going to get worse for Trump.
Reich said in his opinios piece that his business has been found guilty of criminal fraud. The FBI has found more classified documents in a storage unit near his Florida home Mar-a-Lago. A criminal case relating to the 2020 elections is pending in Georgia. The January 6 committee is likely to make a criminal referral to the Department of Justice (DoJ), whose special counsel is already building a criminal case against him.
Several leaders of the January 6 attack have already been convicted of seditious conspiracy. This includes the oath keepers head and Trump’s strategist Steve Banon, whose podcast on the eve of January 6 incited outfits such as ‘Proud Boys’ and ‘Three Percenters’ to raid the Congress and overturn the 2020 verdict electing Biden as the President.
Even the kingpins of the GOP, including right wing media tycoon Rupert Murdoch, have switched their allegiance away from Trump to Florida governor Ron DeSantis or Ted Cruz or another GOP hopeful, Reich said in his piece.
“So why hasn’t the Republican Party as a whole tipped? Why aren’t almost all Republican lawmakers publicly disavowing the former sociopath-in-chief,” Reich asked, adding that in two words it meant: “The base.”
Utah’s Republican senator Mitt Romney, no ally of Trump, put it bluntly: “I think we’ve got, I don’t know, 12 people or more that would like to be President, who are thinking of running in 2024. If Trump continues in his campaign, I’m not sure any one of them can make it through and beat him. He’s got such a strong base of, I don’t know, 30 per cent or 40 per cent of the Republican voters, or maybe more, it’s going to be hard to knock him off as our nominee.”
That’s the problem in a nutshell, Reich observed. It’s not so much the size of Trump’s base. Even 40 per cent of Republican voters is a relatively small group nationwide, especially if you consider that no fewer than 30 per cent of the voters are registered Republicans.
What drives Trump is the intensity and tenacity of his supporters. This gives them effective control over the Republican Party. They worship him. They won’t budge. Unless they budge, most Republican lawmakers won’t budge either (Mitt Romney and Liz Cheney are notable exceptions who have earned his wrath. Liz Cheney, who was the chairman of the Jan 6 panel lost her seat in Wyoming. Now she is independently fighting Trump even as most Republicans hound her).
It’s not a question of taking the high moral ground but so much as Republican lawmakers putting their party over their country. It’s something far more prosaic. They want to keep their jobs, the Tribune quoted Reich as saying.
“What all this means is that the GOP continues to rot as a political party, as a governing institution, and as a moral entity. That may be good for Democrats in 2024, but in the larger sense it’s bad for us all,” said Reich, a professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley and the author of “The System: Who Rigged It, How We Fix It”.