A federal judge in the United States classified as “highly probable” that the then president of the United States, Donald Trump, was guilty of a crime related to the assault on the Capitol in early 2021. In the meantime, the fact-finding committee wants bring two prominent Trump advisers to justice.
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California federal judge David Carter ruled Monday that it was “more likely than not” that Trump would try to obstruct the session of Congress to certify the electoral victory of his rival Joe Biden.
Trump’s plan to stay in power through allegations of alleged voter fraud was “manifestly illegal,” Judge Carter continued. The then Republican incumbent launched a campaign “to nullify a Democratic election, an event without precedent in the history of the United States.”
Trump had asked his Vice President Mike Pence to prevent the official confirmation of Biden’s electoral victory in the joint session of Congress on January 6, 2021. Pence, who chaired the session, refused. After a rousing speech by Trump, his supporters stormed Congress.
“Coup in search of a legal theory”
In the case addressed by federal judge Carter, it is specifically the controversial lawyer John Eastman, whom the investigating commission wants to force to hand over emails.
Eastman had written a memo to Trump on how then-Vice President Mike Pence could prevent Biden’s electoral victory from being certified. Eastman refused to release the emails to the investigative committee, which went to court about it.
Judge Carter has now ordered that the vast majority of the documents, 101 of 111, must be turned over to House Committee U.
He ruled out that Trump and Eastman allegedly “conspired” to obstruct the January 6 session of Congress. “His campaign was not confined to the ivory tower: it was a coup in search of a legal theory.”
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The federal judge’s assessment does not mean that there will be a mandatory criminal investigation against Trump. The decision only affects the publication of emails from Eastman. However, the decision is likely to increase pressure on the US Justice Department to launch criminal investigations against the former president.
U committee wants to take former Trump adviser to court
Meanwhile, the committee investigating the storming of the US Capitol voted Monday night to impeach former Trump Commerce Director Peter Navarro and Deputy Chief of Staff Dan Scavino. Of the committee’s nine members, seven are Democrats and only two Republicans, both of whom are outspoken critics of Trump.
In the next step, the House of Representatives, dominated by US President Joe Biden’s Democrats, must agree to refer the case to the Justice Department. The authority could then open criminal proceedings.
Democratic caucus chairman Bennie Thompson said Navarro and Scavino have an obligation to cooperate with the committee in the investigation. “They refused to do that. And that is a criminal offense.”
The investigative body’s Republican Vice President Liz Cheney said: “Mr. Scavino worked directly with President Trump to spread his false message that the election was stolen.” Navarro is also a key witness.
Cheney said the committee has already interviewed hundreds of witnesses, including more than a dozen former Trump administration employees. Lawmakers learned that Trump and his team had been repeatedly warned that their efforts to overturn the election results would violate the Constitution.
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Congress is now scheduled to consider criminal contempt proceedings against Navarro and Scavino after they previously refused to comply with a subpoena to testify before the committee. The panel had previously called for the prosecution of former Trump advisers Mark Meadows and Steve Bannon. However, there is only one case against Bannon so far.
Dark day for American democracy
In early March, the Congressional Commission of Inquiry into the Taking of the Capitol charged Trump with “criminal conspiracy” in connection with the taking of the Capitol on January 6, 2021 in a court document.
The 75-year-old Republican and others attempted to overturn the result of the November 2020 presidential election, and in doing so obstructed an official process: the certification of Biden’s electoral victory. It was the first time the U-Committee had brought specific criminal charges against the former president.
Trump’s radical supporters had stormed Congress in Washington nearly two months after his election defeat on January 6, 2021 following a provocative speech by the Republican. They wanted to prevent the confirmation of the victory of Democrat Joe Biden.
The attack killed five people and injured dozens. The attack on the heart of American democracy shook the country. Trump claims to this day that he was robbed of victory through voter fraud. His camp has failed with dozens of lawsuits against the election results.
Impeachment proceedings launched against Trump after the Capitol takeover ultimately failed in the Senate. The former president, who was able to reassert his control over the GOP in the months after the Capitol storm, has repeatedly raised a possible presidential bid again in 2024. (AFP-dpa)