Report reveals new details about Liz Cheney's attempt to hold Trump accountable for Jan. 6

Report reveals new details about Liz Cheney's attempt to hold Trump accountable for Jan. 6

Although Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming has often butted heads with Democrats over the years, the arch-conservative Republican has been an unlikely ally since the Capitol riot — pushing for former President Donald Trump’s second impeachment, playing a key role on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s January 6 committee and incurring the wrath of MAGA Republicans in the process. Liberal Washington Post opinion writer Greg Sargent argued in a recent column that Cheney’s recent actions with the committee this week suggest she's mulling potential legal consequences for Trump's actions.

“For weeks, Rep. Liz Cheney has hinted that the House select committee examining January 6 might urge the Justice Department to consider prosecuting Donald Trump,” Sargent explains. “The grounds for this criminal referral might be that Trump obstructed the ‘official proceeding’ in which Congress counts presidential electors. Now, we’re able to glean a clearer sense of what the Wyoming Republican has in mind. It provides a peek at the smoking gun that Cheney and the committee are searching for — or one of them, anyway.”

Sargent continues, “The core of the matter is this: For more than two hours, Trump watched his supporters wage a violent assault on the seat of U.S. government for the purpose of disrupting the 2020 election’s conclusion, after having incited them to commit that disruption, and didn’t call them off. Some comments from Cheney herself — and clarification I’ve now obtained from a Cheney spokesman — shed new light on where this is going. The short version: It’s likely the committee will explore recommending changes to federal law to further clarify that obstructing the electoral count in Congress is a crime subject to stiff penalties.”

The columnist notes that Cheney recently told ABC News that Trump committed a “dereliction of duty” when he failed to call off the violent mob that attacked the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6, 2021. And a Cheney spokesman, quoted anonymously, told Sargent, “The committee will explore whether to make changes to current law to hold a future president accountable. That’s part of the legislative purpose of the committee.”

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Sargent notes, however, that “determining whether Trump’s conduct constituted” an effort to obstruct an “official proceeding” is “complicated” and “might require determining whether Trump saw the violence as instrumentally helpful in subverting the electoral count” on January 6, 2021 and “deliberately refrained from calling off the attack to serve that express goal.”

“The committee wants to determine whether Trump indicated a desire to see the mob continue disrupting the electoral count,” Sargent explains. “We don’t know if it will prove this. Then there’s the question of whether disrupting the electoral count constitutes obstructing an official proceeding, and whether Trump, in inciting the mob to descend on the Capitol during that count, participated in that obstruction. We don’t know exactly what we’ll learn there either.”

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