Despite how it may tear this country apart and send an already divided nation into what would amount to an all-out political civil war, there are those legal experts who contend that former president Donald Trump could be facing criminal charges for his alleged involvement in inciting the events of January 6.
A group of former federal prosecutors say that evidence is mounting of criminal conduct by Trump that could lead to charges against the ex-president for obstructing an official proceeding of Congress on January 6 or defrauding the US government, stemming from his weeks-long drive with top allies to thwart Biden’s election by pushing “false claims” of fraud.
A March 2 court filing by the House January 6 panel implicated Trump in a “criminal conspiracy” to block Congress from certifying Biden’s win, and Trump faces legal threats from justice department investigations already underway into a “false electors” ploy and seditious conspiracy charges filed against Oath Keepers who attacked the Capitol, say the former DOJ prosecutors.
The filing by the House panel investigating the January 6 assault on the Capitol by a mob of seemingly pro-Trump supporters stated that it has “a good-faith basis for concluding that the president and members of his campaign engaged in a criminal conspiracy to defraud the United States.”
The panel’s implications of Trump were contained in a federal court filing involving top Trump lawyer John Eastman, who has fought on the ground of attorney-client privilege, turning over a large cache of documents, including emails sought by the committee.
Back in January, the deputy attorney general, Lisa Monaco, also revealed a criminal investigation was being launched into a far-reaching scheme in seven states that Biden won which was reportedly overseen by Trump’s ex-lawyer Rudy Giuliani to replace legitimate electors with false ones pledged to Trump.
But the House panel’s blockbuster allegations that Trump broke laws to overturn the election have prompted some ex-prosecutors to call on the justice department to quickly accelerate its investigations to focus on the multiple avenues that Trump used to nullify the election results in tandem with top allies like Giuliani.
“The compelling evidence of criminal activity by Trump revealed by the committee in its recent 61-page court filing should spur DOJ to act expeditiously,” Paul Pelletier, a former acting chief of DOJ’s fraud section, told the press.
“Given the gravity of the revelations, the department should consider a strike force or even a special counsel to coalesce sufficient resources to focus on these criminal attacks that strike at the heart of our democracy,” Pelletier added. “There is no time to waste now that the House committee has provided the clearest view yet into how Trump and his campaign apparently schemed to upend our democracy.”
Other ex-prosecutors say the House panel and the justice department seem poised to increase legal heat on Trump.
“A pincer-movement is emerging in the January 6 investigations of those who conspired to overturn the election,” said Dennis Aftergut, another former federal prosecutor. “The justice department and the House select committee investigating the Capitol siege have turned up the heat on Trump’s inner circle that could ensnare Trump himself.”
Trump and his lawyers have fought unsuccessfully to keep White House records from the panel on executive privilege grounds, and Trump last month sparked strong criticism by calling for massive protests in DC, Atlanta, and New York if “vicious” and “racist” prosecutors in those cities probing his political and business activities “do anything illegal.”
Former prosecutors note that the justice department has at least two key criminal investigations underway that could be instrumental in bringing criminal charges against Trump himself – that into the so-called “phony electors scam” and the investigation of white supremacist group The Oath Keepers.
Trump may also be facing legal entanglements as a special grand jury in Georgia has been convened by the Fulton County district attorney to investigate Trump’s high-pressure call to the Georgia secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, back in January urging him to “find” 11,780 votes to overturn Biden’s win in the state.
This group of federal prosecutors, including Aftergut and Pelletier, say that the House panel’s evidence that Trump broke laws in a criminal conspiracy, coupled with the justice department investigations that are moving forward, could fuel criminal charges against Trump and his top allies.
“The train heading toward a criminal referral to the DOJ is leaving the station,” says Aftergut.