Prominent conservative lays out some damning reasons why the possibilities for 'prosecuting Trump' are seriously 'expanding'

Prominent conservative lays out some damning reasons why the possibilities for 'prosecuting Trump' are seriously 'expanding'
Conservative journalist David French speaking at the 2012 CPAC in Washington, D.C., Gage Skidmore

Although conservative journalist David French is a blistering critic of former President Donald Trump, he has been skeptical about the possibility of the January 6 select committee’s work leading to some type of federal criminal indictment. French’s skepticism is certainly understandable, as Trump has survived everything from two impeachments to the Mueller report to countless other probes and investigations — and Republicans who are willing to publicly criticize Trump are the exception, not the rule.

For all his corruption and naked authoritarianism, Trump maintains an iron grip on the Republican Party. And he may be the GOP’s presidential nominee in 2024 if he decides to run.

But following former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson’s bombshell testimony for the select committee on Tuesday, June 28, French is now more optimistic. And he lays out his reasons for that optimism in an article published by The Atlantic on June 29.

“From the moment the attack on the Capitol began, on January 6, 2021, Donald Trump’s moral culpability was clear,” French explains. “That mob would never have assembled on the National Mall but for Trump’s decision to relentlessly lie about the results of the 2020 election. His legal culpability, however, was more ambiguous.”

The conservative journalist continues, “We did not possess any evidence that he directly coordinated with the rioters prior to the invasion of the Capitol, and although his speech to the mob on January 6 itself admonished his followers to ‘fight like hell’ and warned them that ‘you will never take back our country with weakness,’ it also contained an explicit statement that they should march to the Capitol to ‘peacefully and patriotically’ make their voices heard.”

French has been of the opinion that Fulton County, Georgia District Attorney Fani Willis’ investigation of Trump’s post-election activities in the Peach State in late 2020 and early 2021 posed a greater legal threat for him than the evidence being presented by the January 6 committee. But that was before Hutchinson’s June 28 testimony.

“Given the legal ambiguity about Trump’s misconduct on January 6 and the clarity of both the evidence and the law regarding his efforts in Georgia, I’ve always thought that he faced greater legal jeopardy in the less spectacular case,” French notes. “Until yesterday, that is. Until Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, delivered riveting testimony to the January 6 select committee.”

French continues, “The claim of most direct legal significance came when she described hearing Trump demand that the Secret Service remove magnetometers, or ‘mags,’ that were screening the crowd for weapons.… Even though Trump was warned that the crowd possessed weapons, Hutchinson testified that he said, ‘I don’t fucking care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me. Take the fucking mags away. Let my people in. They can march to the Capitol from here. Let the people in. Take the fucking mags away.’”

French notes that when Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming was questioning Hutchinson during the June 28 hearing, the conservative congresswoman “raised the possibility” that Trump’s allies were trying to influence witnesses by telling them that Trump read transcripts and that being a “team player” would help them “stay in good graces in Trump World.” Witness tampering, of course, is a serious offense.

“As the investigation continues,” French observes, “the possibilities for prosecuting Trump are expanding. In addition to the Georgia investigation, the January 6 committee has produced evidence bolstering the case that Trump incited the violent attack on the Capitol. He was already in direct legal jeopardy in Georgia. Now, we can add federal court in Washington, D.C., to the list of places where Trump faces the possibility of a serious and credible criminal case.”

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