'Vivid picture' of Trump criminality emerging from Jan. 6 probe: legal expert

'Vivid picture' of Trump criminality emerging from Jan. 6 probe: legal expert
White House photo

It's becoming increasingly clear from the House select committee that Donald Trump committed felony crimes as he attempted to overturn his election loss.

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) recently sent a not-so-subtle signal that evidence shows the twice-impeached one-term president, through action or inaction, corruptly sought to obstruct or impede the congressional proceeding to count electoral votes on Jan. 6, and former federal prosecutor Glenn Kirschner laid out the case against Trump in a new MSNBC column.

"As the House select committee investigation into the Capitol riot progresses, a vivid picture is emerging," Kirschner wrote. "It suggests many individuals, up to and including former President Donald Trump, worked hard to obstruct that official congressional proceeding. And I believe, as do other legal experts, that doing so constitutes a federal felony."

The felony statute calls for at least 20 years in prison for anyone who even attempts to corruptly obstruct or impede an official proceeding of Congress, as many U.S. Capitol rioters have ben charged with violating, and Cheney's remarks suggest that committee members believe Trump broke that law -- and Kirschner agrees.

"Trump’s conduct on Jan. 6 — whipping his supporters up into an angry frenzy by lying to them about stolen votes and a rigged election and telling them if they don’t 'fight like hell,' they 'won’t have a country anymore' — plainly constitutes an attempt to influence or impede the Electoral College vote count," Kirschner wrote. "As does Trump’s refusal, for more than three hours, to directly call off the attack, even as his allies — Fox News hosts, congressional Republicans, his own son — furiously texted Trump’s then-chief of staff Mark Meadows, pleading with him to get Trump to tell his supporters to go home."

Steve Bannon, who has already been indicted on two counts of contempt, might also be facing legal jeopardy for his alleged role in obstructing the certification of Joe Biden's win, and Kirschner believes the delay prosecutors sought in his trial means they're looking to add additional charges against him.

"As a former career prosecutor, I heard subtext: The prosecutors wanted to have enough time to add more charges against Bannon via a superseding indictment if they wanted to," he wrote. "Indeed, prosecutors will rarely try a single crime standing alone if they can properly bring a series of crimes in one indictment. This gives the prosecutors the power of context come trial time."

"Much lies ahead in both the House select committee’s investigation and any possible criminal investigations and prosecutions," Kirschner concluded. "But by framing issues using the precise language of our federal criminal code, Cheney seems to be providing a road map for future criminal charges, including obstruction of official proceedings, next year."


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