“I’m Just There to Open the Envelopes:” The Select Committee and DOJ Investigations Converge at Mike Pence

You might not understand this from following just traditional news outlets, but over the course of a year, the news-friendly January 6 Select Committee and even the public parts of the locked-down DOJ investigation have met at a common pivot point in their investigation of January 6: on Trump’s efforts to pressure Mike Pence to violate the Constitution.

Trump did so, first, with personal pressure. Then he sent his mob.

The pressure on Pence is how Trump’s plotting in advance of January 6 affirmatively led  directly to — not just through inaction, but through action — specific steps taken by confessed mobsters to assault the Capitol.

Already in February of last year, both the House Impeachment Managers and I recognized the centrality of Trump’s treatment of his Vice President to his liability for the January 6 insurrection.

Trump had nothing to say in defense of his actions with regards to Mike Pence.

The House brief mentions Pence, by title and sometimes by name, 36 times. Those mentions include a description of how Pence was presiding over the counting of the electoral vote, how he fled when Trump’s mobsters flooded into the Capitol, how the attackers targeted him by name, how Secret Service barely kept him safe, how Trump’s own actions made Pence’s danger worse.

The House brief dedicates a section to how Pence refused to do what Trump explicitly asked him to do, to unilaterally discount certain electoral votes.

C. Vice President Pence Refuses to Overturn the Election Results

By the time the rally began, President Trump had nearly run out of options. He had only one card left to play: his Vice President. But in an act that President Trump saw as an unforgivable betrayal, Vice President Pence refused to violate his oath and constitutional duty—and, just hours later, had to be rushed from the Senate chamber to escape an armed mob seeking vengeance.

In the weeks leading up to the rally, President Trump had furiously lobbied Vice President Pence to refuse to count electoral votes for President Biden from any of the swing states.68 These demands ignored the reality that the Vice President has no constitutional or statutory authority to take that step. Over and over again, President Trump publicly declared that if Vice President Pence refused to block the Joint Session from finalizing President Biden’s victory, then the election, the party, and the country would be lost. “I hope Mike Pence comes through for us, I have to tell you,” President Trump said in Georgia on January 4.69 The next day, he tweeted: “If Vice President @Mike_Pence comes through for us, we will win the Presidency.”70 President Trump reiterated this demand just hours before the rally: “States want to correct their votes, which they now know were based on irregularities and fraud, plus corrupt process never received legislative approval. All Mike Pence has to do is send them back to the States, AND WE WIN. Do it Mike, this is a time for extreme courage!”71 On the morning of January 6, President Trump reportedly told Vice President Pence, “You can either go down in history as a patriot, or you can go down in history as a pussy.”72

Later that day, while President Trump was speaking at his rally, Vice President Pence issued a public letter rejecting President Trump’s threats. “It is my considered judgment,” he wrote, “that my oath to support and defend the Constitution constrains me from claiming unilateral authority to determine which electoral votes should be counted and which should not.”73

This letter sounded the death knell to any peaceful methods of overturning the election outcome. It was well known that the House and Senate were going to count the lawfully certified electoral votes they had received. President Trump’s efforts to coerce election officials, state legislatures, the DOJ, Members of Congress, and his own Vice President had all failed. But he had long made it clear that he would never accept defeat. He would fight until the bitter end. And all that remained for President Trump was the seething crowd before him—known to be poised for violence at his instigation—and the Capitol building just a short march away, where Vice President Pence presided over the final, definitive accounting of President Trump’s electoral loss.

[snip]

In other words, a key part of the House brief describes Trump giving Pence an illegal order, and then, after Pence refused to follow that order and announced he would do his own Constitutional duty, Trump took actions to focus the anger of the mob on his own Vice President.

It’s not just what Trump said about Pence, the incitement of an assassination attempt against his Vice President that Trump claims is protected by the First Amendment, but it’s about an illegal order Trump gave to Pence, which Pence duly ignored.

That order was unconstitutional, and as such is not protected by the First Amendment.

Trump’s brief, by contrast, mentions the Vice President (only by title) just three times, two of which are simply citations from the House brief. The sole mention of the man he almost got hanged involves a concession that the Vice President was, indeed, presiding over the counting of the votes.

It is admitted that on January 6, 2021 a joint session of Congress met with the Vice President, the House and the Senate, to count the votes of the Electoral College.

But in response to the second citation from the House brief mentioning Pence, Trump instead pivots to defending the Republican members of Congress challenging state results. As part of that discussion, Trump denies any intention of interfering with the counting of Electoral votes. That denial focuses exclusively on the actions of Members of Congress, not Pence.

Since that time, Congress has been investigating from the top down, aided by the press and a healthy bunch of Pence staffers horrified by what happened to their boss. DOJ has been investigating (at a minimum) from the crime scene up.

The Select Committee appears to have corroborated stories told by Bobs Woodward and Costa in Peril. After losing all their attempts to challenge the election in the courts and backed by a coup memo from John Eastman, in December 2020, Trump’s people started demanding that Pence refuse the vote totals from a select group of states.

At the end, he announces that because of the ongoing disputes in the 7 States, there are no electors that can be deemed validly appointed in those States. That means the total number of “electors appointed” – the language of the 12th Amendment — is 454. This reading of the 12th Amendment has also been advanced by Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe (here). A “majority of the electors appointed” would therefore be 228. There are at this point 232 votes for Trump, 222 votes for Biden. Pence then gavels President Trump as re-elected.

Howls, of course, from the Democrats, who now claim, contrary to Tribe’s prior position, that 270 is required. So Pence says, fine. Pursuant to the 12th Amendment, no candidate has achieved the necessary majority. That sends the matter to the House, where the “the votes shall be taken by states, the representation from each state having one vote . . . .” Republicans currently control 26 of the state delegations, the bare majority needed to win that vote. President Trump is re-elected there as well.

Pence conducted a series of consultations, most notably with his predecessor Dan Quayle, who counseled Pence could only open the ballots. In the hours before the riot, conservative legal stars John Yoo and Michael Luttig backed the Vice President as well.

That led to the remarkable scene on January 5 (as described in Peril, though Keith Kellogg is among the witnesses who cooperated with the Select Committee under a friendly subpoena and Peril’s account relies heavily on him and other Pence aides), as Trump invited Pence to call on unconstitutional power from the mob.

On the evening of January 5, as he waited for Pence to arrive from a coronavirus task force meeting, an aide informed Trump his supporters were gathering near the White House on Freedom Plaza near Pennsylvania Avenue.

Despite the bitter cold, the supporters were cheering loudly and chanting his name. They were waving “Make America Great Again” flags.

When Pence arrived, Trump told him about the thousands of supporters. They love me, he said.

Pence nodded. “Of course, they’re here to support you,” he said. “They love you, Mr. President.

“But,” Pence added, “they also love our Constitution.”

Trump grimaced.

That may be, Trump said, but they agree with him regardless: Pence could and should throw Biden’s electors out. Make it fair. Take it back.

That is all I want you to do, Mike, Trump said. Let the House decide the election. Trump was not ready to give up, especially to a man he maligned as “Sleepy Joe.”

“What do you think, Mike?” Trump asked.

Pence returned to his mantra: He did not have the authority to do anything other than count the electoral votes.

“Well, what if these people say you do?” Trump asked, gesturing beyond the White House to the crowds outside. Raucous cheering and blasting bullhorns could be heard through the Oval Office windows.

“If these people say you had the power, wouldn’t you want to?” Trump asked.

“I wouldn’t want any one person to have that authority,” Pence said.

“But wouldn’t it almost be cool to have that power?” Trump asked.

“No,” Pence said. “Look, I’ve read this, and I don’t see a way to do it.

“We’ve exhausted every option. I’ve done everything I could and then some to find a way around this. It’s simply not possible. My interpretation is: No.

“I’ve met with all of these people,” Pence said, “they’re all on the same page. I personally believe these are the limits to what I can do. So, if you have a strategy for the 6th, it really shouldn’t involve me because I’m just there to open the envelopes. You should be talking to the House and Senate. Your team should be talking to them about what kind of evidence they’re going to present.”

In spite of Pence’s refusals, Trump released a false statement that the Vice President would, in fact, do Trump’s dirty work.

Late Tuesday evening, January 5, as word dripped out in the press that Pence was holding, Trump directed his campaign to issue a statement claiming that he and Pence were in “total agreement that the Vice President has the power to act.”

This set the expectation with the already enraged mob that their efforts to keep Trump in office might just work.

As the Select Committee revealed last night, the White House Counsel’s Office was objecting to all of this, and threatening to resign if Trump tried it. Sean Hannity learned about those threats as early as December 31 and shared his concerns with Mark Meadows.

We can’t lose the entire WH counsels office. I do NOT see January 6 happening the way he is being told. After the 6 th. [sic] He should announce will lead the nationwide effort to reform voting integrity.

Go to Fl and watch Joe mess up daily. Stay engaged. When he speaks people will listen.

The night of January 5, the same night Trump falsely claimed that Pence would go along with the plan, Hannity again told Mark Meadows he was worried the White House Counsel lawyers would quit.

Pence pressure. WH counsel will leave.

Whether or not Hannity sits for an interview with the Select Committee, the release of texts showing that Trump or Meadows shared privileged advice that the White House Counsel gave to Trump (thereby waiving any privilege claim) may have made the testimony of those lawyers themselves accessible, if not to the Select Committee, then under subpoena from DOJ.

That’s important, because as the DOJ prosecutor guiding DOJ’s use of 18 USC 1512(c)(2) to charge those who participated in the insurrection, James Pearce, has already noted, one way an unnamed person just like Trump might act corruptly would be by asking someone else to violate their duty: If that person, “calls Vice President Pence to seek to have him adjudge the certification in a particular way … knowing it is not an available argument [and is] asking the vice president to do something the individual knows is wrongful … one of the definitions of ‘corruptly’ is trying to get someone to violate a legal duty.”

By publicly releasing those Hannity texts, the Select Committee may have made proof that Trump knew his request to Pence was illegal available to DOJ.

Still, any testimony Hannity could offer is important for what came next: because Hannity seems to have known that Trump’s persistence would lead to trouble.

Already knowing that Pence would not reject the vote tallies, already knowing Pence didn’t have that power, Trump riled up his mob in his speech by making it clear everything came down to Pence.

And he looked at Mike Pence, and I hope Mike is going to do the right thing. I hope so. I hope so.

Because if Mike Pence does the right thing, we win the election. All he has to do, all this is, this is from the number one, or certainly one of the top, Constitutional lawyers in our country. He has the absolute right to do it. We’re supposed to protect our country, support our country, support our Constitution, and protect our constitution.

States want to revote. The states got defrauded. They were given false information. They voted on it. Now they want to recertify. They want it back. All Vice President Pence has to do is send it back to the states to recertify and we become president and you are the happiest people.

And I actually, I just spoke to Mike. I said: “Mike, that doesn’t take courage. What takes courage is to do nothing. That takes courage.” And then we’re stuck with a president who lost the election by a lot and we have to live with that for four more years. We’re just not going to let that happen.

Trump led his mob to believe only Pence could help them, and if Pence did, Trump falsely led many of them to believe, it would amount to following the Constitution (precisely the opposite of what his White House Counsel appears to have had told him).

Pennsylvania has now seen all of this. They didn’t know because it was so quick. They had a vote. They voted. But now they see all this stuff, it’s all come to light. Doesn’t happen that fast. And they want to recertify their votes. They want to recertify. But the only way that can happen is if Mike Pence agrees to send it back. Mike Pence has to agree to send it back.

And many people in Congress want it sent back.

And think of what you’re doing. Let’s say you don’t do it. Somebody says, “Well, we have to obey the Constitution.” And you are, because you’re protecting our country and you’re protecting the Constitution. So you are.

That’s what Trump left his mob with as he falsely promised he would walk to the Capitol with them.

So let’s walk down Pennsylvania Avenue.

Already, at that moment, the Proud Boys had kicked off the attack. Moments later, Pence released his letter stating he would certify the vote. “Four years ago, surrounded by my family, I took an oath to support and defend the Constitution, which ended with the words, ‘So help me God.'”

And Trump’s Tweets and speech had the direct and desired effect. When Trump called out, “I hope Pence is going to do the right thing,” Gina Bisignano responded, “I hope so. He’s a deep state.” When she set off to the Capitol, Bisignano explained, “we are marching to the Capitol to put some pressure on Mike Pence.” After declaring, “I’m going to break into Congress,” Bisignano rallied some of the mobsters by talking about “what Pence has done.” She cheered through a blowhorn as mobsters made a renewed assault on the Capitol. “Break the window! she cheered, as she ultimately helped another break a window, an act amounting to a team act of terrorism.

Josiah Colt and his co-conspirators learned that Pence would not prevent the vote certification as Trump demanded. In response, they aimed to “breach the building.” Colt set out to where Pence was presiding. “We’re making it to the main room. The Senate room.” Where they’re meeting.” His co-conspirators Ronnie Sandlin and Nate DeGrave are accused of assaulting a cop to get into the Senate.

Jacob Chansley mounted the dais where Pence should have been overseeing the vote count and declared, “Mike Pence is a fucking traitor,” and left him a note, “It’s Only A Matter of Time. Justice Is Coming!”

Matthew Greene never went to listen to Trump speak. Instead, he was following orders from top Proud Boys, a bit player in an orchestrated attack to surround and breach the Capitol. His goal in doing so was to pressure Pence.

Greene’s intent in conspiring with others to unlawfully enter the restricted area of the Capitol grounds was to send a message to legislators and Vice President Pence. Greene knew he lawmakers and the Vice President were inside the Capitol building conducting the certification of the Electoral College Vote at the time the riot occurred. Green hoped that his actions and those of his co-conspirators would cause legislators and the Vice President to act differently during the course of the certification of the Electoral Vote than they would have otherwise. Greene believed that by unlawfully entering the Capitol grounds, he and other rioters outside the building would send a stronger message to lawmakers and the Vice President inside the building, than if Green and others had stayed outside the restricted area.

There is a direct line of corrupt intent from the moment where Trump asked Pence, “If these people say you had the power, wouldn’t you want to [exercise it]?” and efforts that his mobsters — both those who planned this in advance and those who reacted to Trump’s incitement — made at the Capitol. Some of the most central players in the attack on the Capitol have testified under oath that they understood their goal to be pressuring Mike Pence. In pursuit of that, they broke into the Capitol, they assaulted cops, they occupied the Mike Pence’s seat.

Congress is currently focused on showing what Trump did during the 187 minutes after his mob had breached the Capitol — aside from his tweet focusing again on Pence.

Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. USA demands the truth!

DOJ is finalizing its understanding of the coordinated effort, using the mobs Alex Jones lured to the Capitol and to a second front, that resulted in multiple breaches of the building and vastly inflated risk to Pence and members of Congress.

But on one point, both investigations have already converged: the motive of a vast many involved, from Trump to his scheming associates to organized militias to unwitting trespassers, was to was pressure Mike Pence to violate his duty.

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135 replies
  1. Peterr says:

    “. . . the motive of vast many involved, from Trump to his scheming associates to organized militias to unwitting trespassers was to was pressure Mike Pence to violate his duty.”

    Sounds pretty corrupt to me.

    And nothing says “pressure” like a gallows erected in front of your workplace as a crowd of angry folks chant your name.

  2. Terry Salad says:

    This is amazing and terrifying. Thank you for laying it all out like this so that a novice like me can understand the serious crimes that have been committed. I can only hope those responsible will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

    • TooLoose LeTruck says:

      I watched this last night…

      Really strong work…

      A.C. Thompson has testicles the size of grapefruit, to go some of the places he goes and ask the questions he asks… remarkable ability to get people to talk and make statements on camera their lawyers likely flinch at after the fact.

      Honestly, that footage of the rioting at the Capitol looks… worse… to me now, than it did while I watched it happening last year… at the time, I think I was a little too stunned to really know what to make of it all, other than, ‘Whoa, this isn’t good!’

      But now, after a year of learning so much more of what actually happened before, during, and after that day and, I find all of this even more infuriating.

  3. bg says:

    Excellent. One thing I’ve been thinking about is the termination (assuming not early) of the sentences being served now in terms of the election timeline for 2024.

    Thank you, Marcy. #nationaltreasurethoughoffshore

  4. vertalio says:

    Succinct. Bravo, Dr. ew.
    Let’s hope when those two tracks of investigation meet in the middle Liz drives a golden spike through the heart of the corruption. Televised. Liz, rather than the other members, as that might better allow a path forward for those who feel (like Meijer) they simply must follow the mob.

    • xy xy says:

      I cannot believe anything about a Cheney being honest, driving “a golden spike through the heart of the corruption”,…
      There’s some kind of Cheney ploy here that will somehow bite us down the road.

      • harold hecuba says:

        I don’t think so. I’m not a huge Cheney fan (or a fan at all, actually), but I think her reasoning is this:

        – she honestly believes Trump violated his constitutional duties, and
        – she willingly (along with Kinzinger) took on the public face of those in the GOP who also think Trump violated his constitutional duties

        I think she’s banking on the fact that Trump *did* violate his constitutional duties and that if this is done correctly (and so far it seems like it is) that will make her a much stronger candidate/player for future aspirations.

        I don’t believe any politician does anything because they’re altruistic. I think they weigh what they think is right with how it can also help their political prospects. Sometimes that converges into what we see now from Cheney.

      • earthworm says:

        “There’s some kind of Cheney ploy here that will somehow bite us down the road.”
        The ploy would be establishing leadership credibility as GOP candidate for presidency in 2024.

        • xy xy says:

          I believe many republicans think she betrayed the party so I don’t think she’d be able to win the primary to run for the presidency.
          Maybe through v.p. on the 2024 coattails of someone likeable by republicans and with another generation that will have forgotten, in 2028 or 2032, if the republic still exists.
          But I feel there’s got to be more than presidency.

      • Max404 says:

        Look at it this way. If she didn’t do what she is doing, she would be powerless, in total thrall to Trump and his minions. The rest of the Republicans in Congress have diminished themselves because of their lack of courage, and are actually powerless. She probably calculates that in her state the Cheney name is still worth enough and she exits this phase stronger than ever. If she is wrong, at least she gave it a try. There is a chance she succeeds, and that is better than the certainty she becomes just one more puppet on strings if she follows the other Republicans. Good poker.

        • Leoghann says:

          Excellent point. Cheney, like her father, is an arch-conservative. Unlike her father, though, she isn’t a sociopath. They’re a very stubborn lot, and she’s not about to bow the knee to Trump and his congressional hooligans. So, as you point out, her only viable route here is to do just what she’s doing. Her dad is a resident of Wyoming mostly because of its tax laws.

          She may have prospects should she move, but I doubt there’s any political future for her in Wyoming. My guess is that she’s looking at the long game, with great cred should there be anything like the Neo-Con GOP after the dust settles, later in the decade.

          • xy xy says:

            How the hell does Dick end up showing up at Jan 6 anniversary?
            He’s the guy that started this “insurrection” with 2000 Gore vs Bush.

            • bmaz says:

              Uh, he came with, and to support, his daughter. I am not much of a Cheney fan, but what is wrong with that exactly?

  5. Rita says:

    Excellent and helpful analysis.

    After Trump and his allies had lost their court cases, did they have any lawful basis for overturning the election? All they had was a lot of smoke generated not by fires but their own smoke machines, in short a pretext.

    Even asking Pence to consider actions other than what the Constitution said could be seen as corrupt. How much more corrupt was it to send the angry mob to “cheer on” Pence? Despite Trump’s attempts to cover over what he was doing with instructions to march peacefully and patriotically, he wanted them to go to the Capitol for the purpose of intimidation. Unfortunately, the proof of that intent is difficult.

    Yesterday on MSNBC, Rep. Schiff used the term “suborning” with reference to Trump’s attempts to get state election officials to change vote tallies and in trying to get state legislators to change their votes. Is this maybe a hint to the DOJ?

    • xy xy says:

      “Even asking Pence to consider actions other than what the Constitution said could be seen as corrupt.”
      Pence was no less corrupt as he consulted with perp/conman North whether there was anything legal he could do at the certification to make DJT wishes come true.
      He was ready to be involved in the vote count fraud but somehow he was talked out of it, as he would say, by god (lol).

  6. Christopher Rocco says:

    Trump’s wheedling attempt to persuade Pence to act corruptly by offering him adulation from the mob, and power and authority for himself, all wrapped up in thinly veiled threats, bears an uncanny resemblance to the three temptations recorded in the Christian gospel. The pure evil on display makes my skin crawl when I read the transcript.

    • Ed Walker says:

      That is an excellent point. It reverberates in the Sixth-Grade heart of this long since departed Catholic altar boy.

      • Bern says:

        Interesting (not surprising) to me that Trump is said to have used that appeal to Pence about winning the adoration. It is always only and ever about Trump, even the assumption that everyone else must want exactly what he wants…

    • Colin A McKenzie says:

      That struck me as well. I thought it would seem pretentious to say that, but you said it better than I could.

    • Michael Strauss says:

      Yup.
      Donald Trump himself is the snake in that poem he enjoys directing his followers to .

  7. Chirrut Imwe says:

    Taking something complex and making it simple is one of the hardest tasks a writer can undertake, let alone succeed at (over and over and over). This is another masterpiece. Thanks Marcy – you are truly amazing. I don’t know how you do it.

  8. JamesJoyce says:

    John Brown was a good man. He embraced violence in the cause of abolition and was executed by the slave State of Virginia for treason. Lee

    Brown was outraged by the Scott decision, a bag job and slavery, period..

    Donald Trump is evil..
    Mattis Warned US
    His rhetoric is evil.

    The attack of a federal Armory in 1859 to incite a riot is not dissimilar from Attacking the US Capitol to obstruct the transition of power after fabricating a reason based on Big Lies.

    However the difference is this….

    Slavery was as actual moral hazard. John Brown was wrong to embrace violence, in spite of the offensive nature of the institution, protected by the SJC and bipartisan discrimination via Fugitive Slave Laws…

    Trump is even more offensive, given the advent if Google, to fact check…

    Slaveowners started the Civil War, not the North…
    Scott was never inferior.

    Goebbels made up everything, as does Trump.

    Violence to achieve a political objective?

    Yes this is very dangerous and if AG Garland as a conservative American of Jewish faith fails to apply simple standards of probable cause to an attempted conspiracy to overthrow the Legitimate Vote and Will of the Nation, he will enable Trump no different than Neville Chamberlain, appeased despot…

    Well done E.W.

    Trumps assault on America 🇺🇸 is no different from the Beer Hall Putsch of 1923 and the Reichstag Fire 🔥 of 1933.

    Violence and Imposition are the Hallmarks of despots..

    Trump is a threat to civilization, period…

    My mother is quite old…

    She has seen all of this before.

    The alleged “Jewish Problem” was a fraud which assaulted constitutional rights of German Citizens as the Voting Rights of Americans are assaulted at the state level under false pretense of protection, from not existing voter fraud.

    Propagandist seldom provide proof!

    Trump’s Fascist Litmus Test is a fraud, assaulting reason and this republic as was done in Weimar Republic and Italy.

    Innuendo and big lies, Horst Wessel?

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horst_Wessel

    There is no reason to monitor or censor this comment.

    It is quite truthful.

    • Rayne says:

      “There is no reason to monitor or censor this comment.

      It is quite truthful.”

      Uh, thanks, but policing how this site is moderated isn’t up to you.

    • Yohei72 says:

      “There is no reason to monitor or censor this comment.

      It is quite truthful.”

      Man, I wish I’d thought of this get-out-of-jail-free card earlier!

      “There is no need to criticize my novel. It is excellent.”

      “There is no need to review my job performance. I am quite an ideal employee.”

      “There is no need for me to wash these dishes. They are quite spotless.”

  9. Badger Robert says:

    Trump spoke with Meadows. Meadows spoke with Hannity. The privilege has been waived and the legal advice goes to state of mind.
    What will AG Garland do about it? What will President Biden say about it?

  10. klynn says:

    “But on one point, both investigations have already converged: the motive of a vast many involved, from Trump to his scheming associates to organized militias to unwitting trespassers was to was pressure Mike Pence to violate his duty.”

    Yep.

    This is a really great post. Thank you.

  11. Paul Sturm says:

    This is something of an aside, but it goes under-examined that people assume the whip count in a House contingent election would’ve gone for Trump, 26-24. That’s what you get by simply assigning the majority-Republican delegations to Trump. But! The Wyoming delegation consisted of exactly and only Liz Cheney, who would not have supported an effort to bypass the national vote and install Trump. That brings it down to 25-25. Then throw in the Republicans that voted against the objections and/or voted for impeachment, and I think it’s better-than-even that Biden would’ve won a House contingent election.

    • Rita says:

      The Trump Mob Squad was there to “cheer on” Members of Congress.

      Trump and his co-conspirators had excellent contingency plans.

      • Paul Sturm says:

        Eh, they weren’t even able to sustain either of the objections in the House (or get Pence to cooperate), so I doubt the mob would’ve have any more success pressuring House Republicans in the contingent election. The conspirators definitely had big plans, but they didn’t have the numbers in either chamber — I’d describe their plans more as desperate last gasps after all the courts and state legislatures and the VP refused to go along with earlier shenanigans.

        • Rita says:

          The combination of some state legislatures sending alternate slates of electors plus the presence of so many violent supporters might have convinced Pence to flip. I am not saying their contingency plans were good or well thought through. Flynn, Stone, Eastman and Bannon are clever. But then you have Navarro, Giuliani, and Trump to muck things up.

          • P J Evans says:

            They *claimed* they were sent by state legislatures. But once a state has certified its votes, that slate of electors is official and can’t be removed.

            • JVO says:

              Great point PJ and your point is critical to effectively addressing Trump’s Big Lie. They were *alternate* electors (i.e., FAKE)! To not call them *FAKE* is to give them a modicum of credibility that they did not earn.

  12. Cherie V Clark says:

    I log on every day to simply read what you have to say, I’ve said many times that you have outdone yourself with breaking it all down for we non-legal types to understand, but this is a masterpiece and I feel a bit like I’m on fire. All I can do is ask others to read, retweet, and hope that Garland is able to put this together in the simple yet eloquent terms you have. I long for justice in my lifetime and I am getting old. I fear that if we do not accomplish something, at least about voting rights that all is lost after the mid-terms. We are so grateful to you.

  13. The Old Redneck says:

    “Well, what if these people say you do?” Trump asked, gesturing beyond the White House to the crowds outside. Raucous cheering and blasting bullhorns could be heard through the Oval Office windows. “If these people say you had the power, wouldn’t you want to?” Trump asked.

    This is hands down the most critical thing Trump said. Think about what he did not say: “Mike, I disagree with your interpretation of the Constitution.” I think votes cast in violation of state law are void.” He could have done that and had at least some semblance of a defense.
    But of course Trump didn’t. He said, in so many words: I don’t care about the Constitution. Do it because this mob says we can.
    That is a crime and a violation of his oath of office. He didn’t even make a pretense of some Constitutional cover, like Bush and Cheney did with John Yoo. How much more clear can it get?

    • Bobby Gladd says:

      Yeah.

      …Think about what he did not say: “Mike, I disagree with your interpretation of the Constitution.” I think votes cast in violation of state law are void.”…

      I must’ve missed that day in grad school ConLaw where the president gets to unilaterally decide (”talking his own book,“ as it were) at the 11th hour that certain states “violated the Constitution,” notwithstanding all of the multifaceted torrents of legislative and judicial challenges that ensued prior to the certifications.

      Aggghh… what do I know?

      https://bgladd.blogspot.com/2021/10/us-presidential-elections-and.html

  14. CTNutmeg says:

    Terrific writing and excellent analysis. Great Post.

    This is why I read EW.

    P.S. Sorry, I forgot my previous name.

  15. mossyrock says:

    Im sorry but at the beginning you stated that most of us didnt know all this stuff like you and doj did. i rarely visit this site but i most certainly knew all of this. its just a rehash. a well documented rehash but why insult people ? its all in the news. everything you wrote. whats not in the news is that trump most likely intended for real to have pence assassinated. i have no doublts about that. if you dont say yes to that freak then you are literally dead to him. pence knows it and so does his team. thank god his chief of staffwalled him off whenmeadows took over. i dont believe in any one god but i am glad that he does and that hes talking. alot alot.

    • JohnJ says:

      I have not seen one instance of all this information laid out, without conjecture and in chronological order, as this piece is. Of course the whole purpose it to make the story so orderly and complete that you think it obvious. That’s called good writing.

      It always seems obvious when someone explains it well, that is the point.

      I didn’t see anywhere that this was presented a “scoop”. I knew all this stuff as well, but I do not have the ability or the attention span to piece it all together like Dr. W does.

    • Rayne says:

      First, I seriously doubt that you and a majority of the American public understood in January-February 2020 that Trump’s pressure on Pence was the locus of his conspiracy to obstruct a governmental proceeding. News reports in that time period included enough information about phone calls by Giuliani to at least one member of Congress along with Trump’s pressure on Georgia’s election official Brad Raffensperger that objections to the certification by Congress appeared at least as important as pressure on Pence.

      Second, if you think this post was an insult to you and others, perhaps this isn’t the site for you since as you say “its all in the news (sic)” and you’re getting what you really want in the way of ego strokes elsewhere.

        • Rayne says:

          Yeah, my bad — I was reading and writing about the beginning of the pandemic at the same time and got my years crossed.

          Just as the US had seen buzz about the mysterious coronavirus in Jan-Feb 2020 but didn’t fully understand the import, they may have seen news about Trump-Pence but didn’t understand it came down to Pence formally certifying the election after Congress acknowledged the electors’ votes certified by the states, and that Pence’s life might have hung in the balance.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      A little anachronism is a dangerous thing. A year ago, most of this information was not general knowledge, or acknowledged in the press, which was adopting the “peaceful protest” characterization.

      • matt fischer says:

        Dr. Wheeler: “You might not understand this from following just traditional news outlets…”

        mossyrock: How insulting!

  16. dadidoc1 says:

    I hope any and all of the Oklahoma Congressional delegation are called to publicly testify before the January 6th Commission. MarkWayne Mullin sure seemed to recognize some of those trying to breach the doors into the House gallery.

  17. Joberly says:

    Agreed, this is an excellent post by EW. This line caught my attention: “The night of January 5, the same night Trump falsely claimed that Pence would go along with the plan, Hannity again told Mark Meadows he was worried the White House Counsel lawyers would quit.” Question: Why would Hannity have worried about White House lawyers quitting the evening of the 5th? Presumably, they were working on pardons of lesser but still wired felons. Trump had already pardoned Stone, Manafort and Old Man Kushner on Dec. 23rd. Maybe Hannity had some friend waiting for a pardon? Steve Bannon and Eliot Brody got theirs on Jan. 19. (link here: https://www.justice.gov/pardon/pardons-granted-president-donald-j-trump-2017-2021 )
    In the end, I don’t think anybody from the Counsel’s office resigned before Jan 20.
    P.S.– seeing today that Hannity has Jay Sekulow representing him before Jan 6th Committee.

  18. tinao says:

    What do you think are the chances of Attorney General Garland appointing a Special Counsel now? Sorry to have missed the Christmas cheer, extended family in crisis took over. And thank you as always!

  19. JohnJ says:

    This is making my head hurt; Pence and Cheney both doing kinda sorta heroic things. Both are historically awful people with all the hurtful ambitions of the GQP.
    I guess we gotta give them credit???

    • Rayne says:

      Do we really need to give anybody credit for doing the right thing? And Pence’s case for doing what he openly acknowledged he swore an oath to do?

      Our real challenge isn’t bestowing credit and kudos; we need to identify and prosecute those who conspired to violate laws and the Constitution. And then we need to rebuild a system which should prevent those who want to defraud our country of its democracy from getting this close to doing so ever again.

      • JohnJ says:

        Yes, in reality, doing the right thing should be it’s own reward. But in dealing with people that seldom do the right thing, the way to increase those incidents of goodness, even if accidental, is to at least acknowledge the good behavior. It also can open a path to common ground. (You can guess I am the one that gets assigned to the engineer that no one else can get along with). For the ill behaved, why do the right thing once in a while if no one notices?

        I am not arguing for ignoring the bad behavior. That is different.

        Rewarded behavior is far more likely to get repeated. Worked with my kids, my dog and a lot of nasty-assed professionals. (Am I really quoting my Behavior Modification class from half a century ago? I need a drink.)

        • Rayne says:

          We’re adults, not children. We reward children for their early attempts to recognize and act on right versus wrong to emphasize the difference. As adults our reward for doing the right thing is supposed to be the deed itself — a candidate/elected official who does the right thing should be rewarded with public approval, campaign contributions, election/appointment to office. They get to keep their jobs or are encouraged to seek the right job for them with campaign support.

          That we have to give ‘cookies’ to adults for doing their damned job is regressive.

          • JohnJ says:

            Fully agree.
            This place especially is filled with intelligent adults with a moral compass. And because of that, this is my refuge to come here and read smart informed discussions by far more accomplished and informed people than me.

            I live in Florida. I have trouble finding that dividing line in many people between adult and adolescent behavior, no matter what their position in life.

            Wow I miss DC.

      • Badger Robert says:

        Amend the EC college process. Allocate the EC votes proportionately. Small discrepancies in the popular vote would not matter as much.
        Pence was in a ridiculously vulnerable provision. For many reasons, the President and VP should be elected separately.
        Get rid of the state by state default provision to settle a close election and just have the House vote by majority vote. The default is a parliamentary vote on the Presidency.

        • Rugger9 says:

          Some of it can be done within the Elections act rewrite, but there are some Constitutional limits, i.e. the House voting process by delegation. There isn’t going to be an amendment that will get 3/4ths of the states to approve it.

          However, if each state has at least one Representative in the House, I do not see any constraint on how many House members there would be within the Constitution, so I would propose as part of the rewrite to expand the number to where the lowest three EC entities’ (WY, VT, DC) average population would determine the number of House members. By my calculations from the Wiki data from the Census (4/1/20) that would mean 581 in the house (CA would have ~68) and the “per EC vote” number would be normalized much better than the over 700 k for the big states to less than 200 k for WY.

          There is some precedent for this type of evaluation. Long ago, CA had the same type of bicameral system as the Congress, but that was wiped out by Reynolds v. Sims (1964) that pointed to the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment for state legislatures, and Wesberry v. Sanders (1964) for federal districts. Article 1 Clause 3 sets a lower limit of 30,000 for a district, but no restriction on the size of Congress.

          • Badger Robert says:

            Constitutional amendments don’t pass until someone proposes them.
            Nonetheless, legislation could help, and is much more practical. .
            Clarify the VPs role in the EC process.
            Require all court challenges to vote counts to be resolved by Dec 6. Any not resolved by then must be disregarded.
            Require any Congressional challenge to be submitted in writing by Dec 13.
            Don’t let this process drag on. We now see how dangerous that is.

      • blueedredcounty says:

        I agree with you, Rayne, on everything except the start of your last sentence: “And then we need…”

        The identification/prosecution work is vital and ongoing. But we also need to immediately start tackling the corruption of those who want to “defraud our country” over and over and over again.

        Voting rights, and uniform national voting rules, are a priority. We must expand and encourage voting, not shrink it. The Constitution begins with “We the People” and a baseline Constitutional amendment to define voting rights nationally is needed. It needs to be consistent throughout the country. Finally, it needs to prescribe penalties for anyone who attempts to abridge these rights in any way – including expulsion from any public position anywhere.

        The current systems and laws allowed a career criminal and con artist to take over a major political party and ascend to the highest office in the land. He waltzed through life for over 50 years with no accountability for his criminal actions. The Constitution only states the minimum requirements for the Office of the President. Political parties are not mentioned at all. One of the first things that must happen is to prohibit anyone from being a candidate of a major political party if they cannot pass a background check. There are other constraints that could be placed on the political parties, and these can be done by laws and do not require amendments.

        Senate reform needs to go beyond eliminating the filibuster. The Senate needs precise definitions of what their “advise and consent” role is, including rigid timetables for vetting and either approving/denying people for those positions. What we have now, after all the fuckery of Mitch McConnell, is a system which allows a despicable minority of one branch of the government to hamstring the other two branches by not staffing them with qualified people – to the detriment of everyone. I think the needed Senate reforms will require a Constitutional amendment.

        There is nothing as corrosive to public trust as seeing people flagrantly breaking the law or abusing their position and not being held accountable for it. I do keep reminding myself, when bmaz goes off on people for complaining about this, that these are a minority and overall such things are a minority. The thing is, they are the ones that are considered newsworthy, and they are really bad news. A relevant example – we got to read recently about the Jan6 court cases where the defendants were trying to equate their actions to the Kavanaugh protesters. Kavanaugh lied to Congress. Where are the consequences for him? If I lied in a job interview, I would be fired for cause.

        And I agree with the other posters, about eliminating the Electoral College, etc. I’m going to stop now, or this comment might never end.

    • GKJames says:

      You may be right, but I don’t see the hero in Pence. Someone who says, “We’ve exhausted every option. I’ve done everything I could and then some to find a way around this,” does not sound like someone who simply accepted the election’s outcome. He did get to the right answer ultimately, of course, but that reflects a calculating mind, not a virtuous one.

    • graham firchlis says:

      Don’t have to give them anything. But from a tactical basis it would be helpful to temporarily avoid harshness.

      Pat them on the shoulder, tell them “Good job! Well Done! Tickety-boo!” Help them feel good about thier actions. For as long as they are useful.

      There’ll be time to clarify the record later. They both have much to answer for.

    • Herringbone says:

      JohnJ, I agree with the replies saying “don’t give them too much credit,” but I did want to say that I am feeling the same cognitive dissonance you are.

      Having Dan Quayle’s name come up was like that time when John Oliver explained the British phone-hacking scandal to John Stewart, exclaiming amazedly that Hugh Grant—famous for cheating on his girlfriend with LA sex workers—had suddenly become the moral compass of the nation.

      And honestly, there’s a parallel. Elites become more likely to do the right thing when they are personally affected by malfeasance. It’s not unusual, but it can be confusing.

  20. Hoping4Better_Times says:

    Hannity’s text on Dec 31,2020 to Mark Meadows caught my attention. He feared a WH counsel mass resignation?
    So Cippolone and his deputies knew what trump and his co-conspirators were planning at least a week before the Jan 6 attack. Why didn’t they resign en masse? They took an oath to the constitution and they work for the office of the president, NOT for the person who occupies the office. There is a crime-fraud exception for attorney-client privilege. By resigning en masse, they might have prevented Jan 6 attack. They could have testified at trump’s second impeachment trial. Instead they remained silent.

    • Rita says:

      Assuming that the WH Counsel staff knew the full plot, the attorneys may have stuck it out for the same reason others working for Trump stuck it out – they thought that they could control him or, at least prevent him from doing something really insane. For all we know, they may have prevented him from declaring martial law or a state of emergency.

      If I recall correctly there was a story floating around that, after the violence, Pat Cippolone thought Trump would be arrested.

    • Rayne says:

      Game it out: what would have happened had they all walked out, besides a public furor? What would have happened *after* January 6?

      I do think Hannity’s concern about WH counsel points to a key question the House January 6 Committee needs to ask him — probably already on their list. Did Hannity know WH counsel and staff were prepared to resign en masse, and if so, how did he learn this? If Trump proceeded with his participation in the conspiracy in spite of being warned by office of WH Counsel, he pointedly abused his office and was willfully derelict in his duties.

      • timbo says:

        Along these same lines, I’m very, very curious what Trump, WH Counsel office, etc, had in conversations with Mitch McConnell and Bill Barr et al in the weeks after the election…maybe some more of that might also come out in the coming weeks and months?

  21. phred says:

    Just dropping in to say after a quick perusal of EW’s tweets of Garland’s speech, one can’t help but wonder if he follows along here ; )

    Great job, EW, thanks for all you do to keep us informed!!!

    • timbo says:

      Or his staff follows along? Would be very, very surprised if there aren’t one or two folks at the assistant level following various blog sites, twitter, etc when it comes to the political and legal implications of all that the AGUS does/might do at this point…

  22. Badger Robert says:

    There are a limited number of defendants, like ex employees of the Department of Justice, in which prosecution by a Special Counsel would have advantages that would out weigh the disadvantages. And we see that Special Counsel appointments have an added durability.

  23. Franktoo says:

    Unfortunately, the Democrats only impeached Trump for inciting an insurrection, a crime that normally requires evidence of intent. It was simple for Republican Senators to tell themselves that Trump’s words were typical inflammatory political rhetoric not intended to cause an insurrection. It would have been far better to include separate charges of failure to uphold the law and constitution (by having Pence reject electoral votes) and dereliction of duty (by doing nothing to stop his supporters).

    As Mary points out, these issues were discussed in the House Manager’s brief, but Republican Senators weren’t asked to vote on these charges. Mary makes a good case for Trump’s intent, but no jury of twelve is likely to unanimously find Trump had criminal intent beyond a reasonable doubt no matter who testifies about his intent (probably after being given reduced charges). The bad legal advice of Eastman (a law school dean) makes intent harder to prove.

    I’d have asked Republicans if they would impeach Biden if he did nothing to stop a BLM assault on the Capitol in 2025 after a disputed election – even if Biden believed the election had been stolen from the Democrats and regardless of whether Biden had incited the assault. Similarly, I would demand to know if VP Harris has the power to not present validate slates of Electoral Votes to Congress for approval if [when!] the 2024 election is disputed.

    During impeachment, it is my understanding that Congress, not the Supreme Court, passes final judgment on the meaning of the constitution and the law and sets precedent. The Supreme Court is unlikely to ever rule on the Vice President’s power to reject Electoral Votes or the president’s duty to protect Congress. If Congress were to refuse to impeach Trump for encouraging Pence to reject Electoral Votes, that would actually provide a precedent for VP Harris to reject EVs in 2025. The same goes for dereliction of duty in failing to take action to stop an attack on the Capitol. (Unfortunately, the Democrat mayors of Portland and Seattle weren’t dismissed or censured for their dereliction of duty to protect citizens during BLM riots either.)

    These impeachment charges seem so compelling that I sometimes wonder if the Democrats in charge wanted impeachment to fail so that Trump could discredit and divide the Republican party for another four years.

    • Dan_S says:

      Her given name is Marcy.

      But thanks for the laugh: “…no jury of twelve is likely to unanimously find Trump had criminal intent”

      Also fun: Referencing the “Democrat mayors” of Portland and Seattle, insinuating all at once that they derelicted duty and avoided some non-existent Democratic-party censure/removal mechanism.

      • Franktoo says:

        Dan and Graham: It we wish to hold Trump accountable for his dereliction of duty during the attack on the Capitol, we need to ask ourselves what standards we should use when criticizing such lawlessness. And I ask myself why I approve of the 3 month occupation of the Euromaidan on two occasions, but I find the damage tolerated during the George Floyd demonstrations excessive and a sign of negligence by some mayors. If someone has the wisdom to explain where a line should be drawn, I’m happy to listen and learn.

        The fact that poor, minority areas of NYC were instrumental in electing as mayor a former police captain running on an anti-defund-the-police platform suggests that maintaining order is not always a racist dog-whistle. However, if you interpreted my remarks that way, I apologize.

    • graham firchlis says:

      ” ‘Democrat’ mayors” is the tell.

      Classic RWNJ mocking diminutive, propaganda deliberately used to diminish the Democratic Party, and all Democrats including Democratic Mayors, in everyone’s mind.

      Is it just me but are these long inchoate comments a trolling response to Dr. Wheeler’s brilliant and damning essay? Struck a nerve, mayhap.

      • Dan_S says:

        It’s also connected to the “urban” dog-whistle, used historically by conservatives to incite hatred against minorities and educated voters.

    • Dan_S says:

      The “bad legal advice” defense, too. It’s almost like you’re seeding talking points throughout your conspiracy theory about the Democratic Party’s impeachment strategy.

      Bmaz? Am I out to lunch?

      • Franktoo says:

        Dan: To convict Trump of a crime, his prosecutors will almost certainly be forced to show that he intended to break the law. … To show beyond a reasonable doubt to a unanimous jury of 12 that he intended to break the law. Having the Dean of a law school advise him that the VP could withhold Electoral Votes he believed were invalid is a strong defense that Trump did not intend to break the law when he demanded Pence withhold Electoral Votes.

        However, this defense was not adequate against impeachment. A president can always find some attorney who will write a legal brief allowing him to do almost anything. Nevertheless, as President, Trump was responsible for finding and listening to reliable advisors who would enable him to properly uphold the law and defend the constitution. We can hold him to a higher standard as president than as an ordinary citizen. A year ago, Trump could have been impeached for failing to uphold the law and defend the constitution based on the wrongdoing Marcy describes in this post, but I think it is very unlikely he will ever be convicted of a crime for doing so.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Where to start? Most crimes require some level of intent. As to whether no jury of twelve could possibly find Trump had the requisite intent to commit a crime, that stretches reality in a way even Trump’s tailor couldn’t fix.

      I agree that John Eastman’s legal advice, if that’s what it was, was bad. But it’s not a defense. For one thing, Trump actively looked for this sort of advice, because it gave him cover to do what he had already determined to do. It did not, as is the norm, define limits of behavior that would be within the law. A little inquiry is likely to show that Eastman’s advice was a radical outlier, and that the legion of highly-qualified government and private lawyers that the president had at his disposal – including those in his own WH Counsels’ Office – gave contrary advice, as did Dan Quayle. Indeed, it appears that many lawyers in the White House and DoJ were prepared to resign over such issues.

      Lastly, Congress in an impeachment inquiry is not really determining what the Constitution means. It is determining the political meaning of such things as a “high crime” and “misdemeanor.” That is, behavior so far outside the norm as to justify severe political consequence. In surviving impeachment twice, Trump benefited from his near total control over his party. He is unlikely to have such control over twelve normal jurors.

      • P J Evans says:

        Also that Congress impeached him *twice*, and the lack of conviction is due to one political party refusing to consider the evidence at all. (In part, I suspect, because it would result in some of their party in Congress being shown as liars if not criminals for their own actions.)

  24. Judy says:

    Over the weeks, as Marcy updated us with the capitol cases and the Jan6th Committee shared information about texts, emails etc. I kept thinking this is a pincer movement, at some point the DOJ cases and the Committee’s work will meet and we will have quite a picture. This posting has brought us there.
    In the beginning when Bmaz said to be patient I took it to heart, so I am amazed at how much has been discovered over this year. I am looking forward to the hearings and how the Committee stitches it all together along with the continuing sentencing stream of Capitol rioters (?) insurrectionists(?).

    • timbo says:

      Really? I’m amazed at how much was known at the time was not allowed as evidence in Twitler’s second impeachment trial (the one for the insurrection). It is not surprising therefore that many of us will remain very skeptical of any supposed efforts of the US DOJ et al to get to the bottom of any criminal culpability by Twitler and the Twisslerings around him leading up to and including the attempted coup on Jan 6 last year. The fact is that these are powerful people with powerful friends in high places. It’s great to hear that Garland >might< be taking the crimes committed very seriously…but for people like Twitler, the rich and well-connected who never seem to go to jail when there is obviously plenty of there there, is this just more of par for the course or what?

  25. graham firchlis says:

    Brilliant essay. Tight, smart and pointed, a treat to read, clarity with a complex topic.

    Brilliant essay. Deserves widespread distribution.

  26. dwfreeman says:

    Pence told Trump to his face on Jan. 5 in the Oval Office that there was no scenario by which he would be sworn into office for another presidential term and that he had no intention of supporting a plot that would falsely lead to that end. Trump couldn’t deal with that truth and then sent an email to his warlords at the Willard Hotel claiming Pence was still with the program when he wanted no part of what would happen next.
    In Peril, Woodward and Costa report this showdown meeting with Pence in the foreground of Trump’s MAGA mission to retain office at any price with the tribal voices of his howling followers echoing from Freedom Plaza.
    The story they tell is filled with access details, great quotes from key players in Trump’s cabinet but like any tapestry tale it doesn’t explain the whole story.
    Trump didn’t care about his legacy. He knew he lost in 2020. He acknowledged it on Election Night. He was afraid of losing his grip on power, authority, grifting control, the opportunity to openly hobnob with his Russian handlers who had secured his future beyond Atlantic City casinos and Manhattan real estate. They defined his life and future for so long, losing that, was unacceptable.
    Trump’s presidency was a GOP drunkard’s dream, a malleable leader who would enable an anything goes agenda, so the party no longer needed a dedicated sandwich board except making sure the US didn’t fight Russia over Putin’s interest in reclaiming Ukraine.
    Think about it, Trump’s candidacy revolved around Russian interests, never more illustrated by the Hateful GOP Eight who went to Moscow over 4th of July in 2018 to Moscow and didn’t even have the honesty to explain their motives for going there.
    So, I could go on about all the connections that made Trump a Putin puppet, long after he became a Russian-controlled asset –and that make what he did to our country as a White House occupant — in name only — an excuse for cult worship.
    So, now the GOP is an amalgam of him and right wing interests.

      • Rayne says:

        I think the problem is a lack of blank line returns between paragraphs. I can see where the paragraphs ended but because there’s no blank line they appear to run on especially on mobile device screens.

      • rip says:

        Not to belabor these points, but this WordPress blog has some of the least friendly interfaces. I know it’s hard to change stuff that “mostly works”, but…

  27. Dawgzy says:

    I’ve referred people to EW as having the best 1/6 information available. It’s so valuable having MW out there in the weeds. It’s also great (and a relief) to go from excellent descriptions and analyses of trees to a clear picture of part of the forest. Thanks for the salient synthesis.

  28. Thomas says:

    How would Hannity’s texts prove Trump’s corrupt intent? It seems you would need either Trump’s texts to Hannity showing his corrupt intent, or Hannity’s testimony re his conversations with Trump in which Trump demonstrated corrupt intent

    • timbo says:

      Well, let see… how about if you claimed executive privilege or attorney-client privilege for stuff you were yapping about with regard to staying in power to all sorts of yahoos, media personalities, etc and took that into court in an effort to slow down the investigation and/or criminal charges being filed?

  29. Zinsky says:

    As someone wrote upthread, this may be one of your best summaries of the January 6th insurrection yet, from a “meta” level. I love the line about “the direct line of corrupt intent….”. That phrase should be used in the impending indictment of Donald John Trump.

  30. d4v1d says:

    This seems like a case of The Emperor Has No Clothes – the commander in chief has to resort to sending a proxy to perpetrate some legal chicanery? Mike Pence had the power Trump didn’t? So two things echo in my head (along with the chirping of a lonely cricket) – Did the Pentagon brass privately tell TFG ‘Don’t even think about it?’ And when does Pence, of all people, get the Presidential Medal of Freedom?

  31. harpie says:

    https://twitter.com/mkraju/status/1479074362812686337
    7:56 AM · Jan 6, 2022

    Stephanie Grisham, speaking on @NewDay after talking to Jan. 6 committee, says Trump was “gleefully” watching the Capitol attack from the WH dining room, hitting rewind and saying: “Look at all those people fighting for me.”

    Here’s the segment that’s from [at approx. 6:30]:

    https://twitter.com/NewDay/status/1479083198374199299
    8:31 AM · Jan 6, 2022

    Former White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham told CNN that a group of former Trump administration officials plan to meet in the coming weeks to “try and stop” Trump as he continues to “manipulate people and divide our country.” [LINK] [VIDEO]

    • harpie says:

      What GRISHAM said:

      [6:19] Q: [what happened during those 187 minutes] Do you know specifically who pleaded with Trump to stop the violence during the attack? We’ve heard Ivanka, Kevin McCarthy. Who else?

      [6:37] GRISHAM: I don’t know specifically. Um, I know that MRS. TRUMP did not. So, there’s that. Um, you know, all I know about that day was that he was in the dining room gleefully watching on his TV, as he often did, ah, look at all of the people fighting for me; hitting rewind, watching it again. That’s what I know. […]

  32. oldoilfieldhand says:

    Well done Dr. Wheeler. Thank you for your brilliance and determination, slicing through the vast trove of RWBS. Let’s all write to the Nobel committee and request that they update future awards ceremonies to include a Nobel prize for public citizenship reporting that actually informs the populace. Then let’s all nominate Marcy Wheeler, PhD

  33. WilliamOckham says:

    As we’ve learned more and more about Trump’s pressure campaign on Pence, I’ve been struck by how similar it is to the Raffensberger call. Trump was obviously engaging in a corrupt act in the Raffensberger call. I think drawing the connection between the two is really important.

    • Rayne says:

      I would put down good money the same pressure was applied on other states. It may not have looked the same, ex. Michigan’s GOP state legislators went to DC to meet with Trump. We don’t have any specifics about that meeting; it would have been another Hatch Act violation at a minimum if conducted in the White House.

      • bmaz says:

        Welp, I know there was pressure put on the Arizona legislative GOP, Trump (by my recollection) personally called Governor Ducey and called the head of the Maricopa Board of Supervisors at least twice. He also sent Rudy and someone else (Powell? Ellis? Not sure…) out here to have a fake “hearing” with GOP legislators in a conference room of a downtown hotel. So, yeah, other states indeed.

      • P J Evans says:

        I seem to recall pics of them at the Trmp Hotel. They were tweeting about the wine they had, IIRC.

    • harpie says:

      Yes….and remember the 12/27/20 TRUMP call to ROSEN with DONOGHUE taking notes?
      https://www.emptywheel.net/2021/07/28/doj-unimpressed-by-mo-brooks-kickass-conspiracy-defense/#comment-898704
      TRUMP: “Don’t expect you to do that, just say that the election was was corrupt + leave the rest to me and the R. Congressmen.”

      That call also had the distinct flavor of TRUMP’s Ukraine “perfect” extortion call. [See my thinking at the link] Read the whole thing because Rayne helped me decipher some things I initially got wrong.]

  34. Kelly says:

    I usually just lurk since there is generally nothing more I can ever add to comment threads here. However this time I am compelled to comment.

    It’s as usual an excellent exhibition of the facts. It is an unimpeachable narrative, harvested from the facts and the record, and told skillfully. And then it hits you – we are just really living through this true crime story.

    It is a goddamn stark crime story, and you just can’t take your eyes off it, told like this.

    And then it hits you again – this is a fucken wild story that is a best seller! Yes, gross and filthy lucre, but true. Why isn’t it getting coverage like Marcy does? Because it’s hella book, dammit! Movie, even.

    MSM spins money out of the merest dross; why haven’t they found this story as a gold mine? I mean this one, what Marcy wrote, not the village pablum story the Villagers yammer about. I mean since everything is about money and power with the Versailles on the Potomac…

      • Christopher Rocco says:

        I have come back to this story that focuses on Pence as the pivot after reading Sydney Blumenthal’s piece in the Guardian last night where he distinguishes between the coup and the insurrection. He understands the coup to include all the attempts to pressure officials, whether they be legislators, governors, secretaries of state, other election officials, top DOJ officials, OLC, etc, all of the pressure points mentioned in the comments here, versus the mob that stormed the Capitol to do tfg’s dirty work when the “coup” had failed. That also seems to me to entail a convergence on Pence, since all of the corrupt machinations were aimed at undermining and then disrupting the EC count and throwing the election to the House. I found that distinction between coup and insurrection helpful in light of the tremendous work ew has done here. I am wondering if anyone else has seen the Guardian piece and found it complementary to ew’s.

  35. Jharp says:

    Many thanks to Marcy and the commentators.

    I read every word.

    In my humble opinion we are now now entering the middle innings when the game is most likely going to be decided.

  36. paul lukasiak says:

    Other than a short mention that one of the DoJ prosecutors (James Pearce) has suggested that Trump might possibly be held accountable, I didn’t see anything that backs up the crucial premise of your piece — that the DoJ is, in fact, pursuing Trump’s criminal efforts to void the Constitution.

    What makes you think that the DoJ is actually doing its job, and that Merrick Garland is not merely protecting the DoJ itself (esp Jeffrey Clark, as well as the obvious, continuing efforts by the DoJ to keep the criminal conspiracy a secret) and his legal profession?

    I mean, why hasn’t Trump been charged with obstruction in the Russia probe by Garland? That’s a perfect example of the old saying “a bird in the hand….”.

    • bmaz says:

      This is complete garbage Paul. The US does not currently live in a Trumpian DOJ era where things are fueled by bullshit leaks and internet outrage. Maybe try appreciating that instead of trying to blow it up.

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