As it happenedended1671937659

Trump news: Rattled Trump lashes out as Jan 6 panel finishes investigation and tax return release looms

Publication of House committee’s Jan 6 report comes as information on former president’s tax returns released earlier in week

Oliver O'Connell,Sravasti Dasgupta
Sunday 25 December 2022 03:07 GMT
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January 6 panel chair says Trump ‘broke the faith’ of US elections in final session

The House committee investigating the 6 January 2021 Capitol riot released its final report late on Thursday night, outlining why it has recommended Donald Trump and others face criminal charges over the insurrection.

Over 845 pages, the damning report details how the former president and his allies engaged in at least 200 acts attempting to overturn the 2020 election. The committee calls for him to never be allowed to hold office again.

“That evidence has led to an overriding and straightforward conclusion: the central cause of January 6th was one man, former President Donald Trump, whom many others followed,” the report states.

“None of the events of January 6th would have happened without him.”

Among its other recommendations: swift passage of the Electoral Count Act; a series of disciplinary and criminal referrals; a whole of government strategy to counter violent extremism; and the reform of security arrangements and criminal statutes to include harsher penalties for threats to election workers and the peaceful transfer of power.

The publication of the report caps off another terrible week for Mr Trump that also included a vote by another House committee to release six years’ worth of his tax returns.

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200 separate acts to overturn state election results

One of the most damning findings of the report was the extent that Mr Trump and his inner circle targeted election officials to try to get them to overturn the election results in his favour.

In the two months between election day and January 6, the group engaged in at least 200 separate acts of targeting and trying to influence officials.

The Select Committee estimates that in the two months between the November election and the January 6th insurrection, President Trump or his inner circle engaged in at least 200 apparent acts of public or private outreach, pressure, or condemnation, targeting either State legislators or State or local election administrators, to overturn State election results.

January 6 Select Committee Report
Oliver O'Connell23 December 2022 11:09
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Testimony includes examples of Trump not believing outlandish claims of election fraud

Per the committee’s report, even Donald Trump didn’t believe some of the outlandish claims of election fraud propagated by those trying to overturn the election in his favour.

On November 19th, Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell, and Jenna Ellis held a press conference at the Republican National Committee (RNC) headquarters in Washington, DC. Powell asserted that there was “massive influence of communist money through Venezuela, Cuba, and likely China in the interference with our elections here in the United States.” She pointed a finger at Dominion, claiming its software was “created in Venezuela at the direction of Hugo Chavez to make sure he never lost an election,” and Giuliani echoed her claims.

Hope Hicks told the Select Committee how that press conference was received in the White House. The day after the press conference, President Trump spoke by phone with Sidney Powell from the Oval Office. During the call, Powell repeated the same claims of foreign interference in the election she had made at the press conference. While she was speaking, the President muted his speakerphone and laughed at Powell, telling the others in the room, “This does sound crazy, doesn’t it?”

Nevertheless, the report goes on to say that Mr Trump tweeted and retweeted an OAN news segment captioned “Dominion-izing the Vote” just a few days later. He also brought up the company and its voting machines in an interview with Maria Bartiromo on Fox Business.

Oliver O'Connell23 December 2022 11:27
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Kenneth Chesebro named as architect of fake elector plot

The report also revealed the identity of the Mr Trump ally who is accused of being the architect of the fake elector plot: Kenneth Chesebro.

Mr Chesebro, a little known attorney, allegedly led the plot – not Mr Trump’s attorney John Eastman who infamously created a step-by-step guide for how he claimed then-vice president Mike Pence could overturn the election.

“The fake elector plan emerged from a series of legal memoranda written by an outside legal advisor to the Trump Campaign: Kenneth Chesebro,” the report says.

“Although John Eastman would have a more prominent role in advising President Trump in the days immediately before January 6th, Chesebro—an attorney based in Boston and New York recruited to assist the Trump Campaign as a volunteer legal advisor—was central to the creation of the plan.”

The report states that Mr Trump “oversaw” the attempts to put forward fake electors to certify the results in his favour in seven states that Mr Biden won.

The panel describes how Mr Trump “spearheaded outreach aimed at numerous officials in States he lost but that had GOP-led legislatures, including in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Arizona”.

Oliver O'Connell23 December 2022 11:46
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Marjorie Taylor Greene turns on Matt Gaetz

More MAGA drama in the House of Representatives, an open feud has erupted between Rep Marjorie Taylor Greene, a supporter of Kevin McCarthy’s bid to be Speaker, and her frequent ally Matt Gaetz.

The controversial Georgia lawmaker torched him in an op-ed for The Daily Caller over his hopes that a consensus candidate would emerge to challenge the GOP leader.

Mr Gaetz and a number of other conservatives are pushing for a Speaker who is further to the right than Mr McCarthy.

John Bowden has the latest.

Marjorie Taylor Greene turns on Matt Gaetz over GOP speaker clash

Republicans have yet to solidify their choice for top House role

Rachel Sharp23 December 2022 12:05
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McConnell says Trump’s ‘political clout has diminished’ as GOP looks to 2024

Speaking to NBC News in a wide-ranging interview, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell was sharply critical of former President Donald Trump and his influence on the party’s disappointing 2022 midterm results.

“Here’s what I think has changed: I think the former president’s political clout has diminished,” Mr McConnell said vowing to “actively look for quality candidates” in the 2024 electoral cycle and not defer to Mr Trump’s choices.

The senator said he is “less inclined to accept cards that may be dealt to us”.

“We can do a better job with less potential interference,” he said. “The former president may have other things to do.”

Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy standing behind then-president Donald Trump

Mr McConnell also blamed Mr Trump for tarnishing the party’s image among crucial independent and swing voters, which cost the GOP a chance at the Senate majority through underperformance in “every state”.

“We lost support that we needed among independents and moderate Republicans, primarily related to the view they had of us as a party — largely made by the former president — that we were sort of nasty and tended toward chaos,” Mr McConnell told Sahil Kupar of NBC News. “And oddly enough, even though that subset of voters did not approve of President Biden, they didn’t have enough confidence in us in several instances to give us the majority we needed.”

Oliver O'Connell23 December 2022 12:25
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DC National Guard commander considered sending troops to Capitol as Trump stayed silent

As well as the actions of Mr Trump and his inner circle in the lead-up to January 6, the report also provides new details about the day itself – and the former president’s refusal to try to stop the insurrection.

When his supporters broke into the Capitol, Mr Trump watched it on TV and “did not contact a single top national security official during the day”.

“Not at the Pentagon, nor at the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, the F.B.I., the Capitol Police Department, or the D.C. Mayor’s office,” the report states, adding that he didn’t even try to contact Mr Pence to see if he was safe.

With no action coming from the head of state, the report revealed that the commander of the DC National Guard “strongly” considered going ahead and sending troops to the US Capitol without waiting for approval.

Major General William Walker was aware that doing so would mean he may have to resign from his role but, after waiting for hours with no order from officials, he considered doing it anyway, the report finds.

“Major General Walker himself understood he had to wait for approval from Secretary (Ryan) McCarthy to deploy his forces. But as he waited on that video call for hours, he did strongly consider sending them anyway,” the report states.

“He turned to his lawyer and said, ‘Hey, you know what? You know, we’re going to go, and I’m just going to shoulder the responsibility.’”

Oliver O'Connell23 December 2022 12:44
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Trump should be barred from entering office again

As a result of the former president’s actions, the panel recommends that Donald Trump – who just last month announced his 2024 White House run – is barred from being able to enter office ever again.

The report points to part of the US Constitution which states that an individual who has taken an oath to support the Constitution but has “engaged in an insurrection” or given “aid or comfort to the enemies of the Constitution” can be disqualified from taking office.

The panel issued a grave warning about America’s future if Mr Trump and his inner circle are not held to account for their role in the insurrection.

“In the Committee’s judgment, based on all the evidence developed, President Trump believed then, and continues to believe now, that he is above the law, not bound by our Constitution and its explicit checks on Presidential authority. This recent Trump statement only heightens our concern about accountability,” the report states.

“If President Trump and the associates who assisted him in an effort to overturn the lawful outcome of the 2020 election are not ultimately held accountable under the law, their behavior may become a precedent and invitation to danger for future elections.

“A failure to hold them accountable now may ultimately lead to future unlawful efforts to overturn our elections, thereby threatening the security and viability of our Republic.”

Oliver O'Connell23 December 2022 13:03
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Read the full January 6 report

Flight delayed? Train cancelled? Got some time on your hands?

Then you have time to read the full 845-page Final Report of the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol.

Oliver O'Connell23 December 2022 13:22
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Cassidy Hutchinson told Jan 6 committee of Trumpworld-funded lawyer efforts to keep her from talking

Former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson told the House January 6 committee that an attorney paid by former president Donald Trump’s political organisation took great pains to pressure into testifying in a way that was favourable to the ex-president and his allies, including pushing her to say she didn’t recall things that might have been damaging to Mr Trump, working to find her employment while her testimony was being scheduled, and even relaying the substance of her testimony to the former president himself.

Andrew Feinberg reports on her testimony.

Ex-Trump aide told Jan 6 committee of Trumpworld lawyer efforts to keep her silent

Hutchinson was former aide to White House chief of staff

Oliver O'Connell23 December 2022 13:41
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Rattled Trump posts angry election fraud conspiracy taking aim at FBI and media

As political observers continue to crawl through the 845-page January 6 report, an apparently rattled former president Donald Trump has taken to Truth Social to post an angry, at-times all-caps conspiracy theory tirade aimed at the FBI and media for perpetrating election fraud against him.

Following on from his late-night response to the committee’s report, Mr Trump wrote that by using both social media and traditional media channels, the FBI had swung the election to Joe Biden by apparently getting millions of voters to change their minds leading to a 17 per cent swing against him.

Here comes the all-caps bit where he asks “honest and brave prosecutors and judges” to step up and “clean out this cancer which is destroying our great country!”

It seems a little odd that he accuses the government of the United States of using the FBI to cheat when he was leading the government at the time — something he repeats in the third post in which he says the outcome of the election has done terrible damage to the country and world over the last two years. He ends with a defiant: “TRUMP WON!”

That cannot have been a fun breakfast.

Oliver O'Connell23 December 2022 14:00

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