Trump committed two of his worst crimes before Jan. 6
The coup attempt of Jan. 6 went beyond just unleashing a mob to attack the Capitol. Lawyer John Eastman drafted a detailed plan to have Vice President Mike Pence throw out the election results and keep Trump in office illegally. | AP photos

WASHINGTON—Well before the televised hearings scheduled for this week, the House panel investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol already had proof that Donald Trump and his inner circle committed two grievous crimes for which prosecution is the only reasonable response. The former president and his gang conducted a conspiracy to defraud the U.S. and they carried out a second conspiracy to obstruct the functions of the government—both prosecutable crimes against the people of the United States.

It is one thing to rattle off a list of things that prove there was a president desperate to hold onto power, but it is quite another thing to have proof that serious crimes were committed in order to carry out that wish. The Mueller probe prior to Trump’s first impeachment listed all kinds of things the administration did, but since it was a Justice Department investigation beholden to a corrupt Justice Department controlled by Trump’s appointees, it went nowhere.

There were numerous calls for an independent congressional investigation, including by People’s World, in the wake of the Jan. 6. 2021, attack on the Capitol. Now, finally, the nation is about to learn the results of a probe by just such an independent, bipartisan congressional investigation.

To prove a crime was committed one needs both proof of the act itself and proof of intent. The House panel, along with the nation’s press and former and current lawmakers, have both.

Proving intent to defraud the U.S., there existed a conspiratorial group around the president that clearly set out to overturn a free and fair election. Their purpose was to undermine the choice of the voters, and they took specific actions to accomplish that.

Proving their intent to obstruct the functions of government, they carried out a plan to halt certification of the vote and a further plan to undermine the Justice Department. Trump, his lawyer John Eastman, and employees inside the Justice Department worked in a coordinated fashion to achieve this aim.

The government’s normal function after every national election is to carry out a peaceful transition of power, with the vice president certifying the electoral votes. Even before any of the deadly violence ensued on Jan. 6, some of the worst crimes against the people had already been committed. The organizing of alternative slates of electors, calls to state officials asking them to “find” additional Trump votes, attempts to strong-arm GOP state legislative bodies into throwing out popular votes, and many other misdeeds provide clear proof of the crime of obstructing the functions of government.

This is important because after the Mueller report was issued before the first Trump impeachment the right-wing mantra was that no actual crimes had been committed. This time, the proof of actual prosecutable crime is there, and hopefully, after the hearings beginning Thursday, it will be clear to the entire nation.

The primetime televised hearings starting this week will expose a far-reaching and lengthy conspiracy, both before and during the Jan. 6th coup attempt led by Oval Office occupant Donald Trump, to unconstitutionally retain him in power. The hearings begin at 8 p.m. Eastern Time on June 9 and will run through much of June.

With one exception—Trump’s megaphone, Fox News—major networks will carry the opening session live. Fox has relegated the telecast to its business channel, on cable.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., named the nine-member committee after Senate Republicans, obeying Trump orders, blocked the creation of a politically balanced 15-person (five each of Democrats, Republicans, and independents) 9/11-style investigative commission with subpoena powers.

House Minority Leader McCarthy, R-Calif.—who could become Speaker if the Republicans win a majority this November—tried to stack the Republican side of the select committee with the most-rabid Trumpites. Pelosi vetoed them. She named Reps. Liz Cheney, R-Wyom., and Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., to join the seven Democrats. Both Republicans voted to impeach Trump for inciting the invasion.

Read the statement of the People’s World Editorial Board from Jan. 6, 2021—the day of the Trump coup:

Trump’s fascist insurrection in D.C. aims to destroy U.S. democracy

The committee will “present previously unseen material documenting the January 6th insurrection, receive witness testimony, preview additional hearings, and provide the public with a summary of its findings about the coordinated, multi-step effort to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election and prevent the transfer of power,” its leaders said in a statement.

“The committee has found evidence of concerted planning and premeditated activity,” member Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., a constitutional law professor, and lead House prosecutor of Trump’s second impeachment trial told Washington Post interviewer Leigh Ann Caldwell in a televised Q&A June 6.

Analysts, citing Trump’s speech to the invaders prior to their march on Capitol Hill, say he incited the rebellion. That’s not all, Raskin said: “The Select Committee has found evidence about a lot more than incitement here, and we are going to be laying out the evidence about all the actors who were pivotal.”

Trump’s “team,” including white supremacist Steve Bannon and lawyers John Eastman and Rudy Giuliani, plus a top Justice Department official who prepared to pursue non-existent “fraud” had Trump named him acting Attorney General, tried to carry out the plan to overthrow the constitutional process of counting and ratifying the electoral votes. The invaders disrupted that count for hours.

“The idea that all of this was just a rowdy demonstration that spontaneously got a little bit out of control is absurd,” Raskin said of excuses many Trumpite congressional Republicans offer. “You don’t almost knock over the U.S. government by accident.”

Unlike Watergate, which began almost 50 years ago, much of the Trump conspiracy was right out in the open, fueled by Trump’s lies about “Stop the steal!” And his lies about the 2020 presidential balloting started long before the election. Indeed, he said after the final 2016 presidential debate that he would accept the results, “If I win.” And he talked voter fraud then, too, CNN reported.

In the first 2020 debate with Democratic nominee Joe Biden, Trump refused to commit to honoring the election results, instead warning of a steal. Then he told the white nationalist Proud Boys, a prominent group among the later Trumpite invaders, to “stand back and stand by.” Their leaders have since been among the 800-plus people arrested and indicted for the invasion. Many have pled guilty.

When U.S. District Judge David Carter of Los Angeles ruled against a key Trump player, Eastman, he wrote Trump committed actual crimes, including attempting to defraud the government, obstruction of justice, and conspiracy to stop a legal government process—the count of the electoral votes that certified Biden as the 2020 election winner. Trumpites reject that or have even more violent reactions.

But genuflection to Trump’s “stolen election” mantra is now a litmus test for a huge majority of Republican officeholders, candidates, and party officials from coast to coast. The latest: A Trumpite takeover of the Republican committee in Florida’s most-populous county, Miami-Dade. And one of the worst election deniers is the Republican nominee, a state senator, for Pennsylvania governor.

Trump himself put pressure on local election officials, notably but not solely Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, to “find” him enough popular votes to swing “swing” states into his column. When that failed, the committee will reveal, Trump and his cabal hatched other plans—topped by having Vice President Mike Pence void the electoral votes of seven key states Biden won. Pence refused.

“That wasn’t Donald Trump trying to stop election fraud,” long before the Jan. 6 invasion, Raskin commented. “That was Donald Trump trying to commit election fraud. They were trying to materialize votes that didn’t exist.”

Trump knew in advance that one way to stop Biden’s win was to substitute Trump electors in key Republican-run swing states, giving Trump the win. He floated that plan. Another was to have Pence nullify enough votes to throw the election into the U.S. House, and Trump floated that, too. He wanted to manipulate the Constitution to keep himself in the Oval Office.

In the House, voting would be one-state, one-vote, and Trump would have won 26 of the 50 delegations—and votes. Biden would have won the rest, except for evenly split Pennsylvania. But Pence refused to nullify the electoral votes and said so, publicly, on the morning of Jan. 6. His decision to obey the Constitution, not Trump, ended those two schemes.

One scary piece of evidence previously disclosed but lost in the mountain of other data the committee and the press uncovered: Trump’s former National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn, advised Trump to seize all the voting machines and rerun the election—to ensure the former Oval Office occupant won.

And to make sure he stayed in office afterwards, Flynn urged Trump to declare martial law—and he considered it.

“We are going to tell the story of a conspiracy to overturn the 2020 presidential election and block the transfer of power,” said Raskin. “This is an extraordinary and unprecedented event in our history. You really have to go back to the Civil War to understand anything like it,” he added, not mentioning the Trumpite invaders of the Capitol flaunted a Confederate flag inside it. The actual rebels of 1861-65 never did so.

“You know the Confederates never denied that Abraham Lincoln had actually won the election,” he said. “They just wanted to secede from the Union. But here we had an effort to lie about who won the election and then a concerted multistep effort to overturn the results of the election,” backed up by that insurrection and invasion.

For the record, Lincoln in 1860 won a popular vote plurality, 39.82%, in a four-candidate race, and an electoral college landslide. Rebels conspired to kidnap him on the way to Washington from Illinois, but detective work foiled them.

In later hearings, the panel will also produce evidence that while the Trump coup attempt failed in 2020, his legions are using the “stop the steal” rationale, combined with electoral repression, to skew the 2022 and 2024 elections in advance. Raskin, being kind, so to speak, said state-level Republicans may try to rig the vote, though he didn’t use the word “rig.”

“The essential problem is there may be political elements in the country right now that still do not accept the results of the 2020 presidential election, and those elements may be organizing to try to work” against “democracy going forward in future elections as early as the 2022 election and the 2024 election,” he said.


Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Award-winning journalist Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of the union news service Press Associates Inc. (PAI). Known for his reporting skills, sharp wit, and voluminous knowledge of history, Mark is a compassionate interviewer but tough when going after big corporations and their billionaire owners.

John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People's World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward and a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee. In the 1970s and '80s, he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.