Donald Trump received two more unwelcome reminders on Friday that he is no longer president. Just as he and his underlings chant “Lock her up” about Hillary Clinton and other enemies, it is he who remains in legal danger and in political limbo.
But in other ways the world has changed. The Justice Department is no longer an extension of Trump’s West Wing. The levers of government are no longer at its disposal.
Next year, just as Trump helped deliver Georgia’s two Senate seats to Democrats in January, on the eve of the insurgency, his antics could cost Republicans their chance to reclaim the Senate.
Documents that probably would not have emerged if Trump had succeeded in overturning the election are now open to scrutiny, whether they are contemporary accounts of his conversations about this dishonest goal or his tax returns.
Those who claim that the events of January 6 were anything other than a failed coup attempt would do well to come up with a better line. Or a different alternate reality.
Potential witnesses before the House Select Committee on the events of January 6 should start to worry
Ashli Babbitt is not a martyr. Trump will not be reinstated as president, no matter what the MyPillow guy says. Trump’s machinations and protests reflect the desperation that accompanies flying over the abyss. He knows what he has said and done.
First, on Friday morning news broke that the Justice Department had provided Congress with copies of notes from a damning conversation on December 27, 2020 between Trump, Jeffrey Rosen, then Acting Attorney General, and Richard Donoghue, Rosen’s deputy.
As first reported by The New York Times, the powers of Main Justice told Trump there was no evidence of large-scale electoral fraud in his clear loss to Joe Biden.
He replied, “Just say the election was corrupt. [and] leave the rest to me. “
It goes beyond simply trying to distort the truth. Like George Conway, a prominent, well-connected anti-Trump Republican, tweeted: “It’s hard to overstate how this stinks of criminal intent on the part of the old guy.”
A White House veteran who served under Presidents Bush told The Guardian, “‘Leave the rest to me’ sounds good foreknowledge. “
Just “connect the dots and the dates,” said the former aide.
The insurgency arrived 10 days later. As former Trump campaign chairman and White House strategist Steve Bannon put it on January 5, “Hell is going to break loose.
The truer words have never been spoken.
Unfortunately for Trump, Friday’s news cycle did not end with the events of December 27. Hours later, the Office of the Legal Counsel (OLC) of the DoJ, its policy-making arm, once headed by Bill Barr, Trump’s second attorney general, nodded that Trump’s tax returns could no longer be withheld from the House Ways and Means Committee.
From Watergate, presidents and presidential candidates have released their tax returns under standard operating procedure. Trump’s refusal to do so was one more broken standard – and a harbinger of what followed.
The OLC concluded that the committee’s request for these files complied with the relevant law. Beyond that, he observed that the request would advance “the panel’s stated primary objective of evaluating the IRS presidential audit program – a very legitimate area for congressional investigation.”
Here, the DoJ was doing nothing less than echoing the Supreme Court. Just over a year ago, the court dismissed Trump’s claim that the Manhattan district attorney could not review his tax returns and, in a separate case, ruled that Congress could also examine his taxes.
In the latter case, in a 7-2 decision, the court gutted the president’s argument that Congress had no right to review his tax returns and financial records. Write for the majorityChief Justice John Roberts observed: “When Congress seeks information ‘necessary for intelligent legislative action’, there remains ‘unquestionably’ ‘the duty of all citizens to cooperate’. “
At this point, Trump had made two High Court appointments. Both joined the result. You might as well feel indebted.
Potential witnesses before the House Select Committee on the events of January 6 should start to worry. Minority House Leader Kevin McCarthy, Congressman Jim Jordan: It means you. By your own admission, you spoke with Trump that day.
It was one thing for Merrick Garland’s Justice Department to pursue Trump’s government defense in the E Jean Carroll libel case. It is quite another thing to expect Biden’s attorney general to play the blocking role for Trump. It is highly unlikely here.
The Justice Department does not seem ready to come to the aid of those who sought to overturn the election. Already, he has refused to defend Mo Brooks, the congressman from Alabama who wore a Kevlar vest during a pre-riot rally on Jan.6.
Additionally, Democrats control Congress, and Liz Cheney, a dissident Republican from Wyoming and a member of the Jan. 6 commission, hates Jordan. It’s personal.
“That fucking guy Jim Jordan. That son of a bitch, ”Cheney told Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley of Jordan, according to Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker of the Washington Post.
Adam Kinzinger, an Illinois Republican who like Cheney voted to impeach Trump on Jan.6 and joined the select committee, may also be in the mood to teach a lesson. Congressional Democrats may want to see Jordan and McCarthy sweat. The House GOP got the committee it requested when it withdrew its cooperation. He faces dire consequences.
As for Trump, he may well continue to harbor presidential aspirations and dreams of revenge. But like Ringo Starr sang, “It is not easy.” Indeed, after Friday’s twin shots, things probably got a lot more difficult.