Like a lot of you, as we’re coming up on the anniversary of the January 6th attempted insurrection, I’m wondering where the hell we are. There are a lot of moving parts so it’s hard to keep track of things. In addition, there are a lot of ways in which Trump was personally supposed to be in legal jeopardy that have not yet come to fruition.
As an attorney, I know that the wheels of justice can turn slowly. But come on people! This is getting ridiculous.
Before we get into the merits of the investigations and prosecutions (or lack thereof), this is just a reminder (to those of you who have forgotten) that the January 6th insurrection was not based on some principle or political theory. It was based on the fragile ego of one hyper-inflated man-child, and his complete (and completely predictable) inability to handle the fact that he lost the election. To “sleepy” Joe Biden, of all people.
The Trump election loss and the “Big Lie” that Trump had to invent/endorse around it has, to be sure, slowly morphed into an effort to preserve minority rule. Republicans are still cloaking their effort in claims about election integrity, but those claims are about as credible as Mitch McConnell’s explanations for why he handled the nominations of Merick Garland (more about him later) and Amy Coney Barrett in completely opposite ways.
January 6th Commission
The January 6th Commission could have and should have been a bipartisan “9/11 style” Commission. It would have been, but for the Republicans completely chicken-shit inability to cross #45, their former guy, and the (soon to be proven) mistaken belief that they will need him to win future elections. They won’t. He’ll soon become an Albatross around their necks. But for now, the mythology persists.
The January 6th Commission was able to begin its work when two (dare I say) “brave” Republicans agreed to serve on the Commission. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger. (Like a lot of you out there, I’m still perplexed at having to sing the praises of a Cheney. Really, is this what we’ve come to America?)
It appears that the Commission is, at least, unearthing a treasure trove of documents, which will support a historical understanding of what happened on January 6th. Supporters of #45 and most Republicans will, of course, claim that the Commission is a political hit job. It isn’t, but there will be no convincing those people whose minds are already made up.
The biggest criticism I can see of the January 6th Commission is that it seems to be very slow in dealing with those members of the Trump administration or his inner circle that have refused to cooperate. I’m looking at Steve Bannon, Mark Meadows, Jeffrey Clark, John Eastman and Roger Stone. Some of these “gentlemen” have been referred to the Department of Justice for prosecution, but here out old friend Merrick Garland — who seems to be trying to prove that his Justice Department is the opposite of Trump’s, one that will not be driven by political considerations — is surely taking his time in moving on doing anything about it. Always the discrete, ethical lawyer, it would be nice if Merrick could just give us some effing reassurance that he’s on the case.
January 6th Prosecutions
Here the news is largely better. There have been a large number of investigations and prosecutions, bedeviled mostly by the sheer size and scope of the event, and the number of people engaging in criminal behavior.
The current estimates that there are northwards of 2000 people involved in illegal behavior in the day’s activities, and apparently as many as 700 have already been arrested. Participants made it easy for law enforcement to identify them by (1) disregarding that the Capitol grounds probably has more cameras per square inch than any other building in the federal government; (2) live-streaming their adventure on Facebook and other platforms; and (3) completely ignoring the fact that most cell phones stream location data on a real-time basis. A lot of them had also pissed off family and friends to a degree that many of these people were only too happy to identify and turn in the perpetrators. Especially scorned lovers and ex-spouses!
The large volume of people needing to be prosecuted has made for slow going. Even so, there are hundreds of people — including some of the most visible and outrageous offenders (looking at you Jacob Chansley) — who have either been convicted or who have agreed to plead guilty. Many of them, when questioned post-conviction, have (and here’s a shocker!) professed to a change of heart and alleged that they were misled by #45. They had, they thought, responded to his call to arms to do their civic duty (or so they now say).
There is still a lot of work to be done, but at least there is a large cohort out there who has learned the hard way that trashing the Capitol and trying to prevent the changeover in administrations does have consequences.
Investigation of Trump Election Interference in Georgia
Anybody who was listening to the news at the beginning of 2021 had the chance to hear a recording of Trump’s infamous January 2nd phone call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensburger, the one in which Trump asked Raffensburger to “find” him 11,780 votes, just enough to overturn the election results in Georgia. Rarely has the general public been more privy to hearing a crime being committed in what was almost real time. (BTW, if Raffensberger had done what Trump wanted, it still wouldn’t have helped him in the election.)
So why the fuck hasn’t anything happened on this? A lot of you, myself included, are asking themselves this question. The Atlanta D.A. is said to be “likely” to impanel a special grand jury in her criminal investigation of election interference by the former president and his allies, according to a story in the New York Times.
What the fuck is going on down there in Georgia that has prevented this from happening already? With the recording from the phone call a matter of public record, it seems to me that this should have been one of the easiest indictments of all time. But then what do I know? I’m only a lawyer without about 37 years experience practicing law.
Trump Family Tax Investigation
The investigation of the Trump family taxes does not (of course) have anything to do with January 6th. I mention it here only because it is part of the overall criminal conduct by the Trump family, and one (like with Al Capone) that has a great deal of potential to bring the entire family down.
What say you, “law and order” Republicans?
Just to review how we got here, we actually have Mary L. Trump to thank for this one.
- Mary, who is the daughter of Trump’s brother Fred — the one who died at age 42 of alcoholism (after he couldn’t take the pressure of being part of this family) — was screwed (along with her brother) out of their rightful inheritance by the Trump family.
- Mary and her brother eventually sued the Trumps, which led to an out of court settlement back in 2001.
- Shortly after he became President, the New York Times began a very in-depth look at #45’s finances.
- As part of that investigation, the NYT journalists convinced Mary to retrieve the legal documents that were part of her initial fraud claim. (Because she was the client, Mary was entitled to the entire set of documents that her attorneys had amassed.)
- The New York Times published, towards the end of his presidency, a remarkable set of pieces about the Trump family finances. This surely benefitted the Manhattan District Attorney as he investigates the Trump family for tax fraud.
As it happens, Cy Vance Jr. has just stepped down as the District Attorney in New York. His successor Alvin Bragg will now have to finish the job. I will just note that these tax investigations are incredibly complicated, both to investigate and prosecute, but this one really has the chance to bring the whole family down.
Finally, the Manhattan D.A. isn’t the only one investigating the Trump family in New York. No, New York Attorney General Letitia James is also investigating the family for fraud, and just last month she subpoenaed Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr. (who have, of course, promised not to cooperate).
Lawsuits Against Trump for January 6th
There have also been civil lawsuits filed against #45 personally, including by Representatives Karen Bass and Eric Swallwell, and by at least two Capitol Police officers, for Trump’s precipitation of the January 6th insurrection. Those cases are apparently in various stages of discovery, and they may not come to anything, but we will see.
Why Are Republicans Being Rewarded?
So one thing that amazes me is that I keep hearing dire warnings about how the Republicans are going to clean up in the mid-terms.
I mean, what have Republicans done for which they should possibly conceivably be rewarded?
They have voted reflexively and consistently against anything positive that Joe Biden has tried to achieve, including his big infrastructure plan (but will be taking credit for it when the resources arrive in their city or town).
They have refused (with extremely limited exceptions) the big lie that Trump won the election.
They have used the cover of the Big Lie to enact discriminatory voting legislation that will make it harder for ordinary people to come vote.
I don’t think seeing a few members of the Trump inner circle will change many minds, but for the suburban housewives that are apparently the crucial swing vote these days, maybe it would make a few of them think, “hmm, why are we voting for these cowards and hypocrites again?” Maybe giving Joe Biden the chance to keep working with a Congress that may actually help him wouldn’t be such a bad idea.