George Conway: DOJ mustn’t ignore federal judge’s warning that Trump’s attempted 'coup' was probably illegal

George Conway: DOJ mustn’t ignore federal judge’s warning that Trump’s attempted 'coup' was probably illegal

On Monday, March 28, U.S. District Judge David O. Carter asserted that former President Donald Trump “more likely than not” committed federal crimes when he tried to obstruct the counting of electoral votes on January 6, 2021. Conservative attorney George Conway, in an op-ed published by the Washington Post on March 30, stresses that U.S. Department of Justice shouldn’t ignore what Carter had to say.

“We don’t know whether the Justice Department has been considering criminal charges against Trump, or whether it will,” the Never Trump conservative explains. “We do know that Attorney General Merrick Garland, in a speech commemorating the one-year anniversary of the Capitol insurrection, vowed that the Justice Department was ‘committed to holding all January 6 perpetrators, at any level, accountable under law — whether they were present that day or were otherwise criminally responsible for the assault on our democracy.’ Carter’s conclusion makes clear that, for the attorney general’s commitment to be met, the Justice Department’s criminal investigation of January 6 must focus closely on Trump.”

Conway, one of Trump’s most scathing critics on the right, argues that although Carter’s opinion “did not decide a criminal case, it ought to presage one.”

“Carter’s decision was at once pedestrian and remarkable,” Conway observes. “Pedestrian, because all the 44-page opinion did was methodically recite the law and apply it to the facts. Remarkable, because of where its analysis inexorably led: that a sitting president of the United States, with the help of his lawyer, ‘more likely than not’ violated two federal criminal laws in a desperate effort to keep himself illegally in power.”

Conway continues, “One of those statutes, 18 U.S.C. § 1512(c), says you can’t ‘obstruct’ or ‘impede’ ‘any official proceeding,’ or even attempt to do so, if you act ‘corruptly.’ The other, 18 U.S.C. § 371, prohibits people from conspiring ‘to defraud the United States.… in any manner or for any purpose.’ These laws clearly cover the congressional counting of electoral votes. The obstruction statute defines ‘official proceedings’ to include ‘a proceeding before Congress.’ Carter became the 11th federal judge in the past four months to hold that the term encompasses the joint session held last January 6.”


Carter described Trump and attorney John C. Eastman’s efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results as an attempted “coup in search of a legal theory.” According to Carter, Trump and Eastman “likely knew” that their claims of widespread voter fraud were “baseless” — making their efforts to delay the electoral vote count on January 6, 2021 “unlawful.”

“As Carter put it, if ‘Eastman and President Trump’s plan had worked, it would have permanently ended the peaceful transition of power’ under the Constitution — by any reckoning, they attempted a coup,” Conway writes. “If the law prohibits anything, it ought to prohibit that. And if anything seems like a worthy — indeed, unavoidable — subject for investigation, Trump’s conduct is it.”

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