Finally! The Select Committee investigating Trump's attempted coup and insurrection will hold its first public hearings, beginning Thursday at 8 p.m. (ET). I have high expectations from Jamie Raskin, Adam Schiff and Liz Cheney. CNN reported this morning that Thursday we can expect a broad overview of the panel's 10-month investigation [that] sets the stage for subsequent hearings, which are expected to cover specific topics and themes.
CNN also reported that Trump is demanding a mobilization of his MAGA allies for a counterattack. He's tasked House puppet Kevin McCarthy (a dumbbell) to lead the charge in Congress. Trump expects to see his defense come loud and direct from former "moderate"-turned-MAGA-extremist Elise Stefanik (NY), as well as from the institutional sociopaths like Gym Jordan (OH), Scott Perry (PA), Andy Biggs (AZ) and Jim Banks (IN). Mo Brooks (AL), desperately trolling for a Trump re-endorsement in his Senate runoff, is likely to be the most insistent on Trump's innocent, even though he recently explained how Trump asked him, after the election, to prevent Biden from becoming president. Needless to say, the QAnon publicity hounds, Gang-Greene members Marjorie Traitor Greene, Lauren Boebert, Matt Gaetz will be looking for every microphone and every TV camera they can find to infect the public with their venal, poisonous conspiracy theories.
From outside Congress, Trump has Newsmax, Fox, Bannon and Hate Talk Radio all ready to go and he told Rona Romney of the RNC and Matt Schlapp (of CPAC) that he expects them to defend him by pushing back and changing the subject, focusing on inflation, gas prices, the border, Critical Race Theory, transgenders, Hunter Biden and all the usual bullshit. Nebraska Republican Don Bacon came a preview of what to expect: "Most Americans don't like what happened on January 6, but rate it pretty low on their importance list when compared to inflation, cost of gas, the border and crime. Once Pelosi kicked off two members on GOP side, which prior to this Congress has never been done in the history of the House, the perceived legitimacy of the Select Committee by our side is zero."
If you enjoy reading lengthy legalistic tomes, you can get an idea of what to expect in a fascinating, but dense, nearly 100 page document Brookings issued this morning, Trump On Trial-- A Guide To The January 6 Hearings and the Question of Criminality. From the report's Executive Summary:
President Joe Biden legitimately won a fair and secure 2020 presidential election-- and Donald Trump lost. This historical fact has been uncontroverted by any evidence since at least November 7, 2020, when major news outlets projected Biden’s victory.
But Trump never conceded. Instead, both before and after Election Day, he tried to delegitimize the election results by disseminating a series of far-fetched and evidence-free claims of fraud. Meanwhile, with a ring of close confidants, Trump conceived and implemented unprecedented schemes to-- in his own words-- “overturn” the election outcome. Among the results of this “Big Lie” campaign were the terrible events of January 6, 2021-- an inflection point in what we now understand was nothing less than an attempted coup. In March of 2022, a federal district court judge found it was more likely than not that Trump and his counsel violated two federal criminal prohibitions in their efforts to overturn the election.
The issue of criminality is central to the congressional hearings commencing on June 9, 2022, convened by the House of Representatives’ Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol. Pending the Committee’s own interim or final reports, this publication serves as a guide to the hearings and the evidence the Committee and prosecutors may adduce as to whether Trump and his circle committed crimes. The report covers key players in the attempt to overturn the election, the known facts regarding their conduct, and the criminal law applicable to their actions.
The report goes beyond prior analyses to provide the first in-depth treatment of the voluminous publicly available facts and the relevant law, including possible defenses. The report reviews the evidence as to whether Trump as a matter of law conspired with his outside counsel John Eastman, administration lawyer Jeffrey Clark, and others to defraud the United States in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371, by scheming to block the electoral count on January 6, 2021 and to subvert the Department of Justice’s election enforcement work. We similarly review the evidence as to whether Trump and Eastman violated 18 U.S.C. § 1512(c) with their scheme to obstruct the congressional count. While this report is primarily focused on federal offenses, we also note evidence potentially probative of state criminal violations. Fulton County, Georgia is one jurisdiction currently investigating such evidence, and we briefly address the factual and legal analysis attendant to that investigation, which is also the subject of a separate report by some of the authors here.
Our review of well-established law and public record evidence as it exists today leads us to believe that there is substantial evidence of all the essential elements of those federal and state offenses and suggests there is a substantial basis for prosecutors to go forward. This assessment of the currently available evidence does not of course amount to a final determination that Trump or others should ultimately be charged and prosecuted, or that there is proof beyond a reasonable doubt under the standards applied by prosecutors and courts. The report does not itself make factual findings-- for example, around an individual’s intent, or consciousness of wrongdoing-- but rather, evaluates how the law will interpret and characterize such elements in light of publicly reported facts.
The decision whether to make criminal referrals rests with the January 6 Committee. The ultimate determination whether to prosecute must be made by the Department of Justice (DOJ)-- and for Georgia state offenses, by the Fulton County District Attorney. But the issues bearing on those judgments are among the most important open questions as the Committee holds its hearings and issues its reports, and as prosecutors weigh next steps. This analysis is intended to help readers evaluate those proceedings and publications going forward.
...We believe that the currently available record supports the proposition that Trump and Eastman-- along with others-- did know that Trump lost. Based on that record, it is also our opinion that they knew within weeks of Election Day that there was no legitimate pathway to challenge his loss. In particular, we believe the facts support the following relevant inferences, opinions, and conclusions:
Trump attempted to retain power by any means necessary. Trump was personally involved in entertaining, exploring, and even attempting to enact an astonishing array of legally unjustifiable schemes to retain power. His pursuit of power by any means necessary-- including endorsing and acceding to violence-- is probative of criminal intent. It shows that power was the real goal, and that claims of election fraud were just a means to that end.
Trump prepared an unsupported narrative of a stolen election long before November 3. Any assertion that Trump sincerely believed he won is undercut by his repeated announcements, in advance, that he would never accept losing. It is also undercut by his pattern of crying fraud-- as he did in both the 2016 primaries and the 2016 general election-- when he does not like an election’s results. Past conduct undermines any argument that his post-Election Day claims of fraud were a good-faith response to actual evidence.
Trump told multiple, shifting, mutually inconsistent stories about fraud. In the months after the election, Trump repeatedly changed his story about voter fraud. These fabrications and his inability to present a coherent and consistent narrative support the conclusion that he intended to mislead.
Trump is on the record invoking fraud as an excuse for retaining power. Among other admissions: Trump attempted to coerce both Georgia state officials and DOJ lawyers to “find” votes and to publicize unsubstantiated claims of election fraud as cover for his attempts to retain power. Even if one believes he was a victim of fraud, he cannot intentionally respond with more fraud of his own as a form of self-help.
Trump was repeatedly told by trusted advisors, experts, and courts that there was no fraud. In the months after Election Day, many people close to Trump told him-- repeatedly and emphatically-- that he lost and that his assertions about election fraud were unfounded. Experts and advisors who publicly and privately assured Trump of the election’s legitimacy included his campaign advisors; DOJ lawyers, including Attorney General William Barr; high-level officials at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS); and Republican state-elected officials.
Trump and his supporters repeatedly failed to adduce evidence of fraud. Over many months and more than 60 lawsuits, neither Trump nor any of his supporters ever produced material evidence of fraud that any court was willing to accept.
In its conclusion, the Brookings report states that "It is difficult to imagine a more serious offense, in long-term consequences, than plotting to overturn a presidential election. It is also hard to imagine any way to deter Trump other than criminal prosecution. After all, he has survived an unprecedented two impeachments. The political system no longer offers any consequences that he needs to fear. The Big Lie and its consequences are still with us, posing the very real risk that Trump and his supporters will be back with more schemes aimed at disrupting and overturning our elections. And, if the evidence-- once it is all in-- is sufficient to make the case beyond a reasonable doubt, it is difficult to imagine anyone more culpable than a public official who so blatantly betrays the public trust."