‘Do the Right Thing’ Trump Under Criminal Investigation
After months of public outcry, reports confirm Donald Trump is being investigated by the US Department of Justice for his role in attempting to overturn the 2020 American Presidential Election
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Donald Trump is facing criminal investigation for his role in attempting to overturn the 2020 US Presidential Election with his ‘big lie’ that victory was stolen from him.
In recent weeks, the January 6 congressional committee has heard evidence on how the events which unfolded at the US Capitol on 6 January 2021 had the former President at their heart. Testimony of various witnesses painted a portrait of a man keen to encourage the insurrection being attempted by his loyal foot-soldiers.
The findings, and subsequent criminal investigation, show that US democracy is still in peril, nearly two years after Trump was voted out of the White House.
The Department of Justice has been examining the conduct of those in Trump’s orbit, including his lawyers John Eastman and Jeff Clark, who have both had their devices seized – Clark’s home was raided by agents while he waited outside in his underwear.
Federal investigators interviewed Republicans in Georgia about conversations they had with people in Trump’s circle, including his former lawyer Rudy Giuliani, whose licence to practice was suspended for promoting the election ‘fraud’ lies.
In addition, the department subpoenaed Republican election officials in seven states, where Trump allies attempted to create false electors in an attempt to upend the results of the Electoral College.
Federal investigators have also put two top aides to former Vice President Mike Pence – Marc Short and Greg Jacob – in front of a federal grand jury, signalling the department’s probe has extended deep into Trump’s White House.
Those who attacked the Capitol on 6 January had called for Pence to be hanged as a “traitor”.
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In a rare television interview given as the news of the Department of Justice investigation broke, US Attorney General Merrick Garland said: “We pursue justice without fear or favour, we intend to hold everyone, anyone, who was criminally responsible for the events surrounding January 6 or any attempt to interfere with the lawful transfer of power from one administration to another accountable. That’s what we do.”
Just days earlier, when asked about the January 6 investigation, he said: “We do not do our investigations in public. This is the most wide-ranging investigation and the most important investigation that the Justice Department has ever entered into… We have to get this right.”
Garland, who President Barack Obama had planned to appoint to the Supreme Court in 2016 but was blocked from doing so by Republican Mitch McConnell, added that “the effort to upend a legitimate election… cuts at the fundamentals of American democracy”.
“Garland is the man who took down the domestic terrorists that bombed the Alfred P. Murrah building in Oklahoma City,” disinformation researcher Joshua Fidel told Byline Times. “This is the Garland I remember, and I’m heartened to see him in action once again.”
After months of being told by the US public to ‘do something’, the launch of the criminal investigation represents the start of a new phase in understanding what fuelled the attack on American democracy.
“The way the Department of Justice has proceeded through this investigation highlights their awareness that improperly responding to public pressure for the sake of a response can be detrimental to the work,” said cybersecurity expert Jackie Singh. “All roads to 6 January seem to lead directly to Donald J. Trump.”
The 6 January hearings exposed Trump’s central role in inciting the insurrection. They also exposed his lack of action in stopping the violence.
“He didn’t just fail to ‘preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States’, he imperilled the democratic institutions that ensure the peaceful transfer of power,” said investigative researcher Brent Allpress.
In the congressional committee’s televised hearings, Americans learned that Trump knowingly promoted false grievances about election theft in order to raise money from his fans. Former Internal Revenue Service investigator Martin Sheil now believes Trump will do the same with the criminal probe.
“Trump will use this latest criminal inquiry into his massive sedition to fuel his victimhood-driven presidential campaign,” Sheil told Byline Times. “But the air that conveys his grievance-generated appeal to a white nationalist cult-like audience may have just evaporated.”
‘You Gotta Be Ready for Battle’
Sheil noted that tech company Verizon has announced that it has cut off OAN – “the far-right wingnut cable channel that communicates Trump’s every pronounced syllable”.
In addition, Rupert Murdoch-owned media sites have been denouncing Trump ever since the airing of the final hearing – in a likely pivot towards Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who has been raising more money than Trump in his bid for the presidency.
If Trump loses his prime-time slots on multiple propaganda outlets, it could spell doom for his political comeback.
“That NewsCorp media has withdrawn support gives a good sense of where Trump is heading,” Allpress told Byline Times. “DeSantis is rehearsing to pick up Trump’s mantle in 2024, with backing from the [Republican activist organisation] Council for National Policy.”
DeSantis has been taking increasingly right-wing positions – particularly against abortion and LGBTIQ rights.
At the 2022 Sunshine Summit Victory Dinner, he told his audience that “you gotta be ready for battle. So put on the full armour of God. Take a stand against the left’s schemes. Stand firm with the belt of truth buckled around your waist. You will face fire from flaming arrows, but the shield of faith will protect you”.
“DeSantis’ extremely dangerous and reckless rhetoric demonstrates his lack of fitness to lead,” Allpress, who delivered research on the Council for National Policy and the insurrection to the January 6 Committee, added.
In a virtual address, President Joe Biden said “you can’t be pro-insurrection and pro-America”. His statement was a targeted effort to reclaim what it means to be a patriot from far-right extremists, who have co-opted the term.
Visions of a flag-waving mob on January 6 have dishonoured America; its image as a leader of the free world now tarnished by images of that terrible day and ongoing gun violence.
The focus is now on Attorney General Merrick Garland, who has said he is immune to public pressure. “The only pressure that I or my prosecutors or my agents feel is the pressure to do the right thing.”