Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who berate Then-President Donald Trump voted to acquit him nonetheless after he was impeached for that conduct before and during the January 6, 2021, riots at the U.S. Capitol.By then, Trump had left office, and McConnell Say He concluded that the Senate did not constitutional authority Convict the ex-president. But he added that Trump could still “be held accountable” for his “unconscionable conduct” in criminal or civil court.
Criminal referral from special House committee investigating Capitol riots, releases its summary report Thurs., hope for the same.But such hopes may be in vain, as charges recommended by the Commission require knowledge and intent requirements, which would be difficult to prove.
The committee interviewed more than 1,000 witnesses, issued more than 100 subpoenas, and reviewed more than 1 million pages of documents, doing its best to gather and summarize evidence that might help the Justice Department meet those elements in its decision to prosecute Trump. But while the committee has gathered a wealth of information to flesh out an impeachment case, that does not amount to proving any possible criminal charges beyond a reasonable doubt.
Broadly speaking, the question is whether Trump committed a crime by trying to prevent President Joe Biden from taking office.The effort included months insane fraud allegations; pressure Local, state and federal officials; pre-riot “Save America” Rally where is trump urge His supporters “fight like hell”; and a cockamamie “Substitute elector” program Designed to provide an excuse for Vice President Mike Pence unilateral refusal Cast the electoral votes for Biden while Congress ratifies the election results.
If we assume Trump 1) knew he didn’t actually win re-election, and 2) intended to cause a riot to disrupt the counting of the electoral votes, it’s not hard to prove that he committed several federal felonies, including conspiracy to “cheat America”, get in the way formal procedures, and incite uprising. But so far, the evidence on both points has been mixed and ambiguous.
Does Trump realize that his selfish fantasies about stealing the election are nothing more than that?The Special Committee noted that several of his advisers, including attorney general william barrrepeatedly tell him There is no evidence of electoral fraud on a scale sufficient to alter the outcome. But at the same time, other advisers, including lawyers like Rudy Giuliani and John Eastman, encouraged him to believe the election was stolen and to continue to insist on it through tactics they considered perfectly legitimate. a claim.
Given what we know about Trump, he seems to prefer to hear what advisers have to say.barr who Tell Trump’s fraud allegations are ‘bullshit’ testify Trump has never expressed “signs of interest in what’s actually going on.”
New York Times Emphasize It said the episode showed Trump “doesn’t believe or take seriously some of the outlandish claims he and his allies are promoting about election fraud”:
In a conference call two weeks after Election Day, attorney Sidney Powell asserted that “communist money” flowed through countries like Venezuela, Cuba and perhaps China to interfere in the election.
According to testimony provided to the committee by Mr. Trump’s former top aide Hope Hicks, he “muted the speakers and mocked Powell, telling others in the room, ‘That sounds crazy, doesn’t it?'”
Even if Trump thinks some elements of Powell weird conspiracy theory It’s unbelievable, but that doesn’t mean he’s rejecting his primary goal, which is that systemic fraud across the country has kept him from getting the victories he deserved through bogus ballots and rigged vote counting machines.even after the trump campaign distance From Powell, Giuliani and others continue to tell Same basic story.
Trump doesn’t need Powell to tell him that Biden didn’t really win the election.he looks Convinced From the moment the results started going against him on election night. Since it was inconceivable that the voters would reject him, he apparently thought, massive fraud is the only possible explanation. Everything he said and did after the election flowed from that conviction, and the details didn’t matter.
Consider Trump’s infamous January 2, 2021, phone conversation Along with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, he urged him to “find” the votes needed to change the state’s election results.Ad hoc committee View That conversation was smoking gun of criminal intent, and it would be true if Trump explicitly wanted Ravensperger to “find” those votes in any way necessary. But Trump was ostensibly asking Ravensperger to investigate the fraud, not commit it. Trump seems desperate to believe any allegation, no matter how dubious, as long as it supports his belief that he beat Biden.
One of the charges was Georgia’s “dead man’s vote.” “I think the number is closer to 5,000,” Trump said.This estimate is less than half of the figure quoted in his own lawsuit Challenging the Georgia election results gives you a sense of how little he paid attention to those details. “Actual [was] Two,” Raffensperger said. “So that’s wrong.
Trump refuses to believe it. “In a state [Michigan, supposedly]we have a large number of dead [voting],” he said. “So I don’t know — I’m sure we are in Georgia as well. I believe we do the same in Georgia. “
Trump is convinced the election was stolen, though he doesn’t know exactly how. If that creed had not been swayed by Ravensperger’s patient rebuttals, it’s not hard to believe that it had survived the skepticism expressed by some of Trump’s advisers.
I don’t know if this explanation of Trump’s behavior is true, but given his boundless ego and indifference to inconvenient truths, it’s plausible.As a juror presenting the currently available evidence, I would see a lot of reasonable doubt that Trump would admit that his electoral claims were false, a essential elements To prove that he conspired to defraud the United States.
Perhaps the Justice Department will find more evidence in this regard. The select committee noted that many witnesses either declined to be interviewed or answered questions by invoking Fifth Amendment protections against self-incrimination. By providing immunity from prosecution, the Justice Department may find smoking guns. Perhaps someone close to Trump will testify that he privately conceded that Biden had won, while publicly insisting otherwise.
There are some hints. Cassidy Hutchinson, an aide to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, Tell The select committee told her boss about post-election conversations in which Trump “almost admitted” he lost. According to Hutchinson, Meadows said on Nov. 18, 2020: “Many times he would tell me he lost, but he wanted to keep fighting and he thought it might be enough to overturn the election.”
grassland reject Be interviewed by the committee. If he talks to the Justice Department and corroborates those alleged conversations, that would undermine the theory that Trump drank his own Kool-Aid. But “almost” acknowledging Biden’s victory two weeks into the election doesn’t rule out the possibility that Trump will eventually start to believe the gibberish of Giuliani and others. tout.Again, this is the perfect character for Trump, who seemed convinced during his conversation with Ravensperger that Biden stole the election Somehowas trump still persist to today.
What about the claim that Trump deliberately sparked riots in Congress by calling his supporters to a January 6 rally? irritate them Give a fiery speech and lead them to the Capitol? McConnell suggested he might vote to convict Trump if he was still in office when he stands trial in the Senate, noting that no evidence of criminal conduct is required for a conviction. “Under strict criminal standards, the president’s speech may not be sedition,” he said. Say“However, in the context of impeachment, the Senate may have decided that this is acceptable shorthand for pre-riot recklessness.”
Once we talk about potential criminal prosecution, the distinction turns in the other direction.Supreme Court has hold Even if the speech advocates criminal behavior (which Trump does not), the speech is constitutionally protected unless it is not only “likely” to incite “imminent illegal action” but “directed” to that outcome. That means Trump cannot be held criminally responsible for his remarks at the rally, unless he intends to start a riot.
Trump urged his supporters to “raise your voice today in a peaceful and patriotic way” by “marching to the Capitol,” insisting he did not anticipate violence, let alone incite it.While his remarks about “fighting like hell” in that situation are undeniably recklessHe was so narrowly focused on promoting his own cause that it seemed plausible that he didn’t consider the impact his words might have.
The committee’s report includes evidence Supporting this hypothesis:
In any event, the president expressed no grief or regret for what happened at the Capitol. He also doesn’t seem to realize the gravity of what he’s started.
In the final call of the night, the president spoke with Johnny McEntee, his personnel director.
“[T]It’s been a crazy day,” the president told him. McEntee said his tone was “like, wow, can you believe this shit…? “
Did he express his sorrow over the violence at the Capitol?
“No,” McEntee said. “I mean, I think he was shocked that things got a little bit out of hand, but I don’t recall specific sadness.”
The account, including hints at minimizing violence and Trump’s emotional state, clearly doesn’t reflect well on him. But if Trump was truly “appalled” by the riots, as McEntee reported, that would be inconsistent with claims that his speech “directly” sparked riots. Without that specific intent, he cannot be charged with sedition or obstruction of official process.
Given these challenges, no one should count on criminal prosecutions to hold Trump accountable for his egregious post-election behavior. The best chance came and went for his Senate trial.