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And we're not quite sure how many hearings to go
Tuesday was January 6 Committee hearing number 4. Tomorrow, Thursday, will be hearing number 5. Hearings planned for next week have now been continued into July. We’re not exactly certain when or how many more to expect. My impression is that this is good news, that the committee is learning new information and trying to figure out where it fits in.
This is a phenomenon prosecutors are familiar with. Success breeds success. When investigations start to roll, more witness want to get on the bus. They come in, they provide information. Sometimes, they’re very good witnesses with high quality information.
We already know about one new source of information that seems promising here. Last week, a subpoena was issued to British filmmaker Alex Holder. Holder indicated he was cooperating, so in this instance, it seems likely that the subpoena was a “friendly” one, issued to give him some confidence that if he turned over requested footage, he couldn’t be accused of doing anything improper. The subpoena requests some very interesting material.
There has already been some early fallout. The New York Times reported that in snippets of the footage it reviewed, Ivanka Trump, who testified to the committee that she accepted Bill Barr’s assessment that the election wasn’t tainted by fraud because of her respect for him (prompting Trump to characterize her as “checked out”) told a different story in the footage. She reportedly said that Trump should “continue to fight until every legal remedy is exhausted” because people were questioning “the sanctity of our elections.” The documentary interview took place on December 10, nine days after Barr’s statement that the election wasn’t impacted by fraud. Read the full New York Times report here.
We don’t know what other secrets the footage may reveal, but candid video from the last six weeks of the campaign and following Trump’s loss could prove quite revealing. Oh Lordy! There are indeed tapes.
Here is Holder’s statement about the context in which the footage was taken, released after news of the subpoena broke.
Tuesday’s hearing focused on the fake elector plans in several states that were designed to interfere with the certification of the election results on January 6 and ultimately, with the transfer of power. The committee focused on Trump’s involvement, with his outside lawyer, John Eastman, playing a prominent role as well. There was video of testimony from RNC chair Ronna McDaniel that Trump wanted her to talk to Eastman “about the importance of the R.N.C. helping the campaign gather these contingent electors” if Mr. Trump’s legal challenges were successful. Fake electors, continent electors; whatever you want to call them, they were not electors. They were self-appointed groups of Republican agitators who tried to impersonate legitimate electors. In a really odd sideshow, an aide to Senator Ron Johnson, R-WI, approached an aide to Mike Pence, telling him Johnson wanted to hand deliver the fake slates from Michigan and Wisconsin to the VP. Pence’s aide rejected the request. Johnson has done everything possible to avoid answering questions about the incident, blaming everything on the aide and claiming to be tied up on a phone call when NBC’s Frank Thorpe tried to question him. Thorpe pointed out he could see the Senator’s screen and he wasn’t on a call.
And despite Trump’s perpetuation of the big lie, as we all know now, the underlying justification for gathering the fake electors — rampant election fraud — was entirely unproven. Rudy Giuliani said it best to Arizona’s Republican Speaker of the House, Rusty Bowers, who testified Giuliani told him “We’ve got lots of theories, we just don’t have the evidence.” Bowers testified, “I don’t know if that was a gaffe or maybe he didn’t think through what he said, but both myself and others in my group, the three in my group and my counsel, both remembered that specifically, and afterwards, we kind of laughed about it.” There was more. More evidence suggesting, albeit not definitively, that Trump was aware there wasn’t evidence of fraud and a January 4 meeting where Trump was present when Eastman acknowledged his scheme wasn’t legal.
Perhaps it was just coincidence, but news surfaced today that DOJ issued subpoenas in its investigation into the fake elector scheme. The number two official at DOJ, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco confirmed the existence of the investigation in late January of this year. The Washington Post first reported the subpoenas in what it characterized as activity “widening the probe of how political activists supporting President Donald Trump tried to use invalid electors to thwart Joe Biden’s 2020 electoral victory.”
The Post reported that the FBI conducted “court-authorized law enforcement activity” at the home of a Georgia lawyer, Brad Carver, who allegedly signed a document as a Trump elector and at a Virginia home occupied by Thomas Lane, who was involved in the Trump campaign’s efforts in Arizona and New Mexico. Subpoenas were issued to others who may have been involved in or aware of the elector impersonation schemes.
There was reporting the FBI’s reach extended into Nevada, where state Republican chairman Michael McDonald’s cell phone was seized. A search warrant for state party secretary James DeGraffenreid, a signatory on Nevada’s fake elector document, could not be executed because agents were unable to locate him. I’m a huge fan on local news and the detailed reporting by 8NewsNow in Las Vegas on this story was great. They also captured this helpful tidbit from Twitter.
If you’ve listened to any of my commentary, you’ll know I was concerned throughout 2021 when we didn’t see signs like this of investigation at DOJ. Sure, DOJ prosecutors are skilled at keeping their work out of the public eye. But to have no public pushback from witnesses subpoenaed to grand juries, no reports of the FBI serving subpoenas or conducting searches, was worrisome. We don’t know who the ultimate targets of this investigation are but it’s good to see these signs of life at DOJ.
Speaking of DOJ, tomorrow’s committee hearing will focus on Trump’s efforts to use the Justice Department in his plot to hold onto power. Jeff Rosen, who became the acting AG when Barr resigned, along with his second in command, the acting Deputy AG Rich Donoghue and Steven Engel, the Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel are all on the witness list and to say I’m waiting with baited breath to hear their testimony would be an understatement.
I was glad to get back home from New York so I could spend this afternoon, even in gruesome 97` heat, with these lovely ladies. They’ll be watching with me (and hoping for Pup-peroni treats) tomorrow.
As we head into the next hearing, I’m still reflecting on the incredibly moving testimony from Fulton County, Georgia election workers Shaye Moss and her Mama, Lady Ruby. The harassment they experienced after Trump and Giuliani falsely accused them, by name, of election fraud perhaps culminated when Trump supporters broke into Ms. Moss’s Grandmother’s home to make a “citizen’s arrest.” You don’t have to be a former federal prosecutor from Alabama to know that historically, when a mob of angry white people in the deep south breaks into a black person’s home saying they were there for that, they were talking about a lynching. Our nation owes a debt of gratitude to those two strong women. I’m not sure we can ever repay it. I saw folks on Twitter saying they’d signed up to be poll workers the next day. I hope we can all find a way to honor them by working to make 2022 and 2024 fair and accessible elections.
We’re in this together.
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