Trump offers shaky legal argument in latest attempt to keep Jan. 6 probe in dark


The former president—twice impeached on a litany of charges including obstruction of Congress, abuse of power, and more recently, incitement of insurrection—points specifically to a Washington Post interview with Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat, to support his claim.

Thompson told The Washington Post on Dec. 23 that the committee was particularly interested in what Trump was doing on Jan. 6 when he appeared to be delaying calls for rioters to disperse from the Capitol. Former Vice President Mike Pence was under siege, police officers were being brutally beaten and maimed, and for over two hours Trump was effectively missing in action.

“That dereliction of duty causes us real concern and one of those concerns is that whether or not it was intentional, and whether or not that lack of attention, for that longer period of time would warrant a referral,” Thompson said in the interview.

He continued: “I can assure you that if a criminal referral would be warranted, there would be no reluctance on the part of this committee to do that.”

The committee has stressed in previous motions with Trump in court that it is after specific information, including documents only as they relate to the attack on Jan. 6.

Both Thompson and committee Vice Chair Liz Cheney, a Wyoming Republican, have expressed this publicly as well, saying that the committee’s primary function is legislative since ultimately, the probe will likely use the information it obtains to inform amendments or revisions to antiquated electoral laws.

If, however, it uncovers a crime that has been committed in the process of its probe, it cannot simply turn a blind eye—and that’s an argument supported by the D.C. Court of Appeals, Trump’s last stop before his current fight at the Supreme Court.

In a Dec. 9 ruling from Judge Patricia Millett, the circuit judge made that court’s position clear: “The Committee’s request to the Archivist reiterates that it ‘seeks to recommend laws, policies, procedures, rules, or regulations necessary to protect our Republic in the future. The mere prospect that misconduct might be exposed does not make the Committee’s request prosecutorial. Missteps and misbehavior are common fodder for legislation.”

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