Democrats say Jan. 6 hearings reveal Trump's 'criminality,' but believe a third impeachment trial would be futile

january 6 committee hearing donald trump

A tweet from former President Donald Trump is displayed on a screen at a hearing held by the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the US Capitol on June 9, 2022 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.Photo by Jabin Botsford-Pool/Getty Images

  • The Democrats want to prevent Trump from taking office again.

  • But lawmakers are divided on how to prevent him from running again.

  • Overplaying his hand could backfire in the 2022 midterms, a Democratic strategist has warned.

The former president’s demand to relax security at his raucous “Stop the Steal” rally despite being told his supporters may be armed.

The top White House lawyer caveat on January 6, “We are going to be charged with every crime imaginable.”

State and local election officials pressured and threatened to overturn the election results. Senior Justice Department officials tell the president they are ready to resign en masse.

In a span of three weeks, the House of Representatives’ bipartisan Jan. 6 caucus has painted a troubling portrait of Donald Trump clutching every last drop that could allow him to cling to presidential power during the final days of his administration.

But with at least two more hearings on the horizon, Democratic lawmakers aren’t sure what action they should take next to try to stop Trump, a wildly popular Republican who has survived repeated scandals, including two impeachments, and is considered one of the main presidential contenders of 2024 despite the legal clouds that surround him.

His options for keeping him out of the Oval Office are unprecedented and tense. They could try to impeach Trump a third time and get the deadlocked Senate to convict him, which would then open the door for another simple majority vote as specified in the Constitution that would bar him from holding any federal office again. Or lawmakers could invoke the 14th amendment and get Congress to pass a bill disqualifying him from holding office. Many of them suggested they wanted to wait for the Justice Department to intervene, reasoning that even the latest revelations of abuse of power would not convince Republican senators to vote against Trump and risk his revenge.

All 14 Democratic lawmakers who spoke to Insider say the increasingly explosive public hearings reveal an unhinged Trump, a portrayal that could diminish his political support as he contemplates a future run. But some warn that the risks to democracy are so imminent that extraordinary measures are now needed, and they cannot wait for state or federal prosecutors to file charges.

“I would love it if we could disqualify him,” Mazie Hirono, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told Insider at the US Capitol.

The Hawaii Democrat said she doesn’t need further convincing of Trump’s guilt. “I think the hearings have shown a pattern of, she would say, criminality,” Hirono said.

Impeaching or banning Trump would require more support from Republicans than previous efforts, and others in his caucus fear the time is past for lawmakers to hold Trump accountable as Americans raise concerns about runaway inflation, gun violence and the chaos after the revocation. constitutionally guaranteed right to abortion.

Donald Trump waving on the White House lawn.

Former President Donald TrumpAlex Wong/Getty Images

searching for ‘the right remedy’

Democratic lawmakers are deeply divided on Trump.

The House select committee is presenting evidence that Trump was personally involved in efforts to overturn the 2020 election and, as former federal judge Michael Luttig testified, can try to do it again in 2024. But the decision on whether he broke the law rests with Attorney General Merrick Garland and his prosecutors.

One of the Democrats’ options would be to impeach Trump a third time, despite twice failing to convict him in the Senate, where a two-thirds supermajority is required to impeach him.

Senate Judiciary Committee member Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut said he wasn’t sure if another impeachment trial would be possible given that Trump is no longer in office, but he didn’t make much of it anyway.

“I don’t know if impeachment would be the right remedy,” Blumenthal told Insider as he walked toward the Senate chamber. “I think most likely some kind of criminal execution. And that’s why I need to hear the evidence.”

Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia immediately shut down any talk of a third impeachment trial when asked by Insider, and actually advocated reconsidering the latest attempt.

“Instead of the second impeachment trial, since Trump was no longer in office, I would have preferred that we look at invoking the resolution of the 14th Amendment or something like that. I think that would have been more productive and would have had a higher chance of success because it didn’t need two-thirds of the vote.”

But that time has passed, Kaine said. “I’m not interested in Donald Trump anymore,” he said.

Senate Judiciary Committee member Chris Coons of Delaware said more Republicans would have to be involved in impeaching Trump for it to be worth another trial.

“I think former President Trump is clearly, as Justice Luttig said, a clear and present danger to democracy in the United States,” Coons told Insider.

Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island said the best course of action is for the select committee to turn over all of its evidence to the Justice Department, steps it has so far refused to do while the hearings take place, and for Garland to issue a judgment. Call to impeach Trump. Pushing for a third impeachment trial seems pointless to Reed, who predicted that such an attempt “would not be accepted by most of my colleagues.”

“We’ve seen, twice, that the Senate is unwilling to hold Trump accountable,” Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey told Insider. “So it seems to me that the Justice Department, through the regular legal system, may be the place.”

The Justice Department is currently conducting its own investigation into the January 6 insurrection. In recent days, he has issued several subpoenas to people involved in Trump’s plan to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

Recent revelations from the hearings could move Trump closer to facing criminal charges. The committee has presented evidence that Trump could be charged with violating four other federal lawsincluding witness tampering, conspiracy to defraud the government, and obstruction of official proceedings.

Democratic Representatives Adam Schiff of California, Zoe Lofgren of California, Jamie Raskin of Maryland and January 6 Committee Co-Chair Bennie Thompson of Mississippi gather behind the dais during a hearing of the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack. January to the US Capitol at the Cannon House Office Building on June 9, 2022 in Washington, DC.

Democratic Representatives Adam Schiff of California, Zoe Lofgren of California, Jamie Raskin of Maryland and January 6 Committee Co-Chair Bennie Thompson of Mississippi talk during a recess during a hearing of the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on Capitol Hill of the US Cannon House office building on June 9, 2022 in Washington, DC.Drew Angerer/Getty Images

time is running out

The recent revelations of Trump’s efforts to nullify the 2020 presidential election come as Democrats face a difficult midterm election.

If they try to stop Trump from returning to office, they risk ignoring other issues plaguing Democrats now and losing their majority in both houses of Congress, hampering President Job Biden’s ability to carry out his agenda.

Democratic strategist John LaBombard commended the select committee for orchestrating “a historic public accounting” of Trump’s gross dereliction of duty while in office, and urged politicians to point out how Republican claims about the 2020 election they are out of step with the current concerns of voters.

“Independent voters will surely look more skeptically at candidates who re-litigate the 2020 campaign and promote the lie that the election was rigged,” he said, though he added that “voters do not typically reward candidates from either side.” games that are more focused on the past than the future”.

LaBombard urged Democrats to stay “focused on the issues that matter most,” including rising gas prices, inflation and supply chain failures.

President Joe Biden

President Joe Biden addresses the nation at the White House in Washington, DC on June 24, 2022 following the US Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade.Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images

Others warned that the already charged political climate could become even more volatile if Democratic lawmakers seek a third impeachment trial.

Robert Ray, a former federal prosecutor who defended Trump during his first impeachment trial, said there could be another Jan. 6 riot if they go through with this plan.

“The best way to handle this, whether you like Trump or you don’t like Trump or you want him to wait or you don’t want him to get into office, is to fight this in the political process. It’s not to use prosecution as a tool to prevent happen,” Ray told Insider.

Whether Democrats decide to take matters into their own hands or leave it up to Garland, one thing is clear: time is running out.

Democratic Representative from Maryland and Jan. 6 committee member Jamie Raskin said committee members are still working out recommended next steps.

“We will have a full set of general recommendations … on what needs to be done to strengthen ourselves against coups, insurrections, political violence and electoral fraud, going forward,” Raskin told reporters after a recent hearing.

He got sidetracked when Insider asked if impeaching Trump a third time is one of those moves the committee can recommend. “The Justice Department is obviously the center of the law enforcement function for the federal government. And presumably they are following these hearings and will be in possession of all the information that we are going to release,” Raskin said. . “So they will have to make their judgments.”

However, Raskin insisted that the committee is determined to send “a strong message from the House of Representatives … that these attacks on America’s constitutional democracy will not stand.”

Read the original article at Business Insider

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