The January 6 committee begins its long-awaited national calculation on Thursday night by drawing attention to the brutality that Capitol police officers faced 18 months ago and dive into the details of one of the gangs leading the violence that dark day. .
While it is doubtful that the hearings will live up to the sky-high expectations of those who thought the committee would expose open-and-close offenses by some of the country’s top officials, the hearings in prime time will provide one thing: evidence for many of the trials are trying to get former President Donald Trump and other election deniers to actually pay for the violence.
“What the committee cannot do is hold people accountable. But this is where criminal cases and civil lawsuits come in, ”said Edward G. Caspar, a lawyer representing wounded and traumatized Capitol police officers who are suing Trump after the violence.
The real tragedy on January 6 is that it is still not over
The inability to hold Trump accountable with this particular panel may sound surprising, given the certainty that committee leaders – Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) and rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) – has used to discuss how Trump put forward “a corrupt plan to prevent the counting of ballot papers and a conspiracy to prevent the transfer of power.”
But that does not mean that there will be no consequences of Parliament’s committee work on 6 January. The committee has, after all, taken on what investigator (and former Republican Rep. From Virginia) Denver Riggleman has called “the greatest computer effort in the history of congressional investigations.”
Yet one of the major challenges to the panel’s investigation – with its controversial trials, secret interviews and promises to reveal the truth – is that it ultimately has no power to punish those responsible for last year’s attacks on the Capitol.
So far, legal scholars and progressive activists have focused their outraged calls for action on the Justice Department. But the real action may come from lawsuits like the one Conrad Smith and seven other Capitol police officers filed in August against Trump, his campaign, organizers of the Stop the Steal denial of movement movement like Ali Alexander and Roger Stone, and enforcement gangs like Proud Boys and Oath Keepers. militia.
“The committee plays a crucial role here for America,” Caspar said. “If you think about the three ways to hold accountable those responsible for the attack – congressional hearings, criminal prosecution, civil trials – they are like a three-legged stool. The committee can shed a very sharp light on the evidence and present it to the public. It’s something. , the others can not. ”
The committee has plenty of that.
According to the panel, it has interviewed more than 1,000 witnesses and collected at least 140,000 documents, obtained through subpoenas and submitted under oath. Lawyers working on cases against Trump are already considering how they can obtain this evidence – in some cases videos or interview transcripts – in a form permitted in court for their cases. Fortunately for these attorneys, the witnesses speaking to the committee were already under oath when they testified.
McCarthy and Scalise say they will not see the first hearing on Jan. 6
DC Attorney General Karl Racine – whose office in December sued the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers as well as individual members of each militant group – has told The Daily Beast that he will follow the hearings closely to see what evidence emerges. would be helpful with his case.
In fact, the committee’s first hearing, which starts at 20.00 EDT on Thursday, to touch on the role of the proud boys during the coordinated attack on the Capitol. The committee will hear from two witnesses: Nick Quested, a documentary filmmaker who was embedded with the proud boys around January 6, and Caroline Edwards, a Capitol police officer who suffered a traumatic brain injury that day.
The witnesses and the madness surrounding the first public hearing should create some compelling television – at least as compelling as congressional hearings can be. Even the choice of venue for the event has an element of TV drama; the committee is hosting the hearing in the rarely used Cannon Caucus room, apparently to accommodate more press, but also to add an official expression to the case with the room’s Corinthian columns and ornate chandeliers.
But the evidence uncovered by the committee is likely to be far more pedestrian. No bombs are expected Thursday night. And yet, prosecutors and lawyers representing clients in civil cases may not need bombs. Instead, they just need enough legal fodder to pull certain people into the two-state former presidential circuit – like Donald Trump Jr. and rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) – back in the judiciary.
In March, for example, U.S. District Judge Amit P. Mehta dismissed Brooks as a defendant in the revolt case, which was brought by his congressional colleague, Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA).
One of the lawyers on Swalwell’s legal team, Phil Andonian, believes new evidence may convince the judge that there is a strong enough case for the Republican congressman to bear some responsibility for the damage to the Capitol.
January 6 Summons of Committee 5 GOP congressmen who refused to cooperate
It was already known that Brooks, a Trump loyalist who negotiated all sorts of rebuttal allegations of election fraud, wore a bulletproof vest on the morning of January 6 when he told outraged protesters near the White House that their ancestors had “sacrificed their blood … and sometimes their lives. “
Brooks then asked the protesters, “Are you willing to do the same? Are you willing to do the same to fight for America?”
The January 6 committee has obtained thousands of text messages from Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows and others, including messages to Brooks that could further implicate the Republican congressman.
“This will be a good roadmap for discovery when we reach it. I’m definitely interested in many of the bit players we’ve identified,” Andonian told The Daily Beast. [that] “Mo Brooks, Donald Trump Jr., Rudy Giuliani were more involved than we were able to claim based on the public information we had at the time we filed the lawsuit.”
“We all know that there was coordination and that there were people in the campaign who were part of the demonstration and spoke,” Andonian continued. “It will only get stronger as this information comes out.”
Andonian expects that it may require his team to reproduce the lawsuit, as opposed to simply changing it. But the end result would still be what they were looking for: accountability.
Until then, even those who strongly support the committee are aware of potential pitfalls.
Norm Eisen, a lawyer and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who recently authored a report on the committee’s role in saving the nation’s republic, said this week that the committee has already done the incredibly difficult work of laying the groundwork to show that Trump and his staff deliberately committed crimes by trying to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power for the first time in the nation’s history. But he recognized that hearings may still fall flat with some Americans.
Trump’s attorney John Eastman ordered to hand over a series of emails and documents to the committee on January 6
“If it’s not twofold, it’s a risk. But they have brought one of the most conservative members of the GOP’s caucus, Liz Cheney, as vice president, an equal to control this. Bipartism is a risk, but they have uncovered it, ” he said. “The other risk is not having anything new to say.”
Doug Jones, the former senator and federal prosecutor from Alabama, said the committee needs to be particularly careful in its messages right out of the gate so as not to tarnish its findings with the perception that it is solely driven by politics.
“Where the committee has to be very careful is if they forget the fact that they are fact-finders,” Jones said. “They should not give the American public the impression that this is an attack on Donald Trump. They find facts. The facts come to speak for themselves. They’re going to connect the dots. “
These facts are still coming in.
Late Tuesday night, U.S. District Judge David O. Carter in California ordered John Eastman to pass on potentially condemning documents to the committee. Eastman is the disgraced lawyer who carefully advised Trump on the trick to staying in power by pressuring then-Vice President Mike Pence not to certify the results of the Electoral College, and his emails – which the judge determined were likely to show evidence of an actual crime – were ordered to be handed over to the committee on Wednesday at. 17.00.
These emails, if published by the committee, will only serve to boost lawsuits against Trump’s inner circle. And even in a chance that they are not, lawyers suing Trump for financial compensation will still fight to get them – and expose them.
“Our cases will move forward and we will be able to hold these people accountable in a way that is public and transparent and will inform the American public,” Caspar said.
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