Anyone 'aiding and abetting' Jan. 6 panel won't be eligible for legal fund aiding Trump allies

Anyone 'aiding and abetting' Jan. 6 panel won't be eligible for legal fund aiding Trump allies
Donald Trump Jr. and Donald Trump (Shutterstock)

A legal defense fund set up to help former aides of Donald Trump pay legal bills associated with the congressional inquiry into Jan. 6 is making perfectly clear who will and won't be eligible for assistance.

"We are certainly not going to assist anyone who agrees with the mission of the committee and is aiding and abetting the committee," said Matt Schlapp, who chairs the American Conservative Union and oversees the First Amendment Fund.

According to CNN, Trump has declined to dip into his own funds to help any former aides but is consulting with the defense fund on who to help and who to hang out to dry.

"I am in communication with [Trump's] team about those decisions," Schlapp said, adding that the fund has the unilateral authority "to make decisions over whether someone gets assistance or doesn't."

The fund currently amounts to over seven figures, according to Schlapp and, while it hasn't explicitly declined to help anyone yet, Schlapp said that time is surely coming. Schlapp said that "many" former aides have made use of the fund but declined to give an actual number.

But the first and most important criteria for eligibility is how extensively those who request help from the so-called "First Amendment Fund" are cooperating with the select committee investigating Jan. 6—otherwise known as exercising one's free speech.

Trump's attorneys have encouraged former aides to defy the Jan. 6 panel, and Schlapp's fund has given them another tool to encourage obstruction of the investigation into the Trump-inspired assault on the Capitol.

The fund is mainly designed to help younger aides who don't have the means to finance a slew of legal bills, particularly if they have chosen to limit their cooperation with the panel

"Our interest is in helping those who don't have the financial resources to help themselves, especially those from the Trump administration who are from a younger generation," Schlapp said.

In other words, Schlapp's fund wants to make certain that obstructing a congressional probe is an option for everyone—not just the rich and well-connected.

One person who may find himself ineligible for any pro-Trump payouts is former Attorney General Bill Barr, who has already spoken with the committee.

"We've had conversations with the former attorney general already. We have talked to Department of Defense individuals," said committee chair Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, who made the comments Sunday on Face the Nation.

The cooperation of Barr and representatives of the U.S. military have become a point of interest following news of a draft executive order prepared for Trump that would have directed the military to seize voting machines following his 2020 loss.

"We are concerned that our military was part of this big lie on promoting that the election was false. So, if you are using the military to potentially seize voting machines, even though it's a discussion, the public needs to know. We've never had that before," Thompson noted.

That little gem of a memo came to light late last week after the National Archives turned over some 750 pages of Trump's White House records to the Jan. 6 Committee following Trump’s unsuccessful bid to keep them hidden.

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