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Trump under pressure

Trump under pressure

The January 6th hearings might have paused for the summer, but the other investigations into Donald Trump’s actions are only picking up pace. What does it mean for the former president, and will he run in 2024?

“This election is now over, congress has certified the results…I don’t want to say the election’s over… I just want to say Congress has certified the results without saying the election’s over, okay?”

Donald Trump, PBS

The day after the January 6th riot, when a mob of his supporters stormed the US Capitol, Donald Trump was practicing for a TV address. 

 His team had finally persuaded him that a message to the nation was probably a good call. 

But even after everything that had happened, Trump still didn’t want to admit to his followers that Joe Biden had won. 

This previously unseen video clip was aired in the latest Congressional hearings. 

It was just one more piece of the puzzle, which Democrats argue, proves that Trump was at the center of a plot to overturn the election result. 

It’s a message that the January 6th committee has tried to hammer home in session after session.

That Trump was determined to remain president of the United States – and he’d stop at nothing to make it happen. 

Here’s Liz Cheney, one of only two Republicans who sit on the committee, speaking at the most recent hearing:

“You already know Donald Trump’s goal – to halt or delay Congress’ official proceedings to count certified electoral votes. You know that Donald Trump tried to pressure his Vice President to illegally reject votes and delay the proceedings. You know he tried to convince state officials and state legislatures to flip their electoral votes from Biden to Trump. And you know Donald Trump tried to corrupt our Department of Justice to aid his scheme.”

Liz Cheney, C-Span

The committee is taking a break from public hearings over the summer. 

But that doesn’t mean the investigation into Trump is slowing down. 

The committee will spend August interviewing new witnesses, checking facts and gathering more evidence. 

In the meantime, another major inquiry into January 6th – and Donald Trump’s role in it – is gathering steam. 

***

“We begin this evening with bombshell breaking news from the Washington Post. The Post reporting the justice department is investigating former president Trump’s actions in its criminal probe of efforts to overturn the 2020 election”

MSNBC

At the end of last week, the US Department of Justice interviewed two top aides of former Vice president Mike Pence. 

The investigators wanted to know about Donald Trump’s conversation with his inner circle about a plan to put forward slates of fake electors in states that Joe Biden had won. 

Here’s Carol Leonnig, one of the Washington Post reporters who broke the story, speaking to MSNBC: 

“What we learned is that they are asking most of their questions, at least so far, about Donald trump. The questions overwhelmingly are, what did Donald Trump tell his lawyers? What did Donald Trump say to you? What did Donald Trump say to Mike pence?

MSNBC

It seems like the Justice Department’s attention is squarely fixed on Trump. 

So, how serious is it for him?

***

The decision to bring a criminal case against Trump is one that ultimately rests with one man: Merrick Garland. 

He’s the attorney general of the United States – and the guy in charge of the criminal inquiry at the Justice Department.  

Until recently, Merrick Garland has played his cards pretty close to his chest about whether Trump might face criminal charges.

But his position may be changing. 

Here’s Merrick Garland speaking to reporters last month: 

“No person is above the law in this country. 

Reporter: Even a former President?

Garland: Nothing stops us. I don’t know how to say that again. No person is above the law in this country. I can’t say anything more clearly than that.”

Merrick Garland

“No person is above the law” 

That’s the biggest signal we’ve heard from him so far that the Justice Department might be willing to prosecute Trump. 

Merrick Garland told NBC news last week that the Justice Department wouldn’t be influenced by any outside factors in making that decision. 

Not even if the person being charged is running for elected office…

Interviewer: “So if Donald Trump were to become a candidate for president again, that would not change your schedule or how you move forward or don’t move forward?”

Garland: “I’ll say again, that we will hold accountable anyone who was criminally responsible for attempting to interfere with the legitimate lawful transfer of power from one administration to the next.”

NBC News

So with the threat of charges looming, will Trump decide to run for president again? 

***

You’d think that if Donald Trump is charged with a crime it might make him more reluctant to put his name forward for the 2024 election. 

After all, he’d be the first former president to face a criminal prosecution – that’s not exactly a badge of honour…

But some sources have told journalists that Donald Trump’s legal problems might actually encourage him to have another run at the presidency: 

“An announcement from former President Trump for a 2024 election bid is more of a when, not an if. But […] it is not about avenging a loss or being angry about the last election. Four people with knowledge of the situation tell “Rolling Stone” that mounting legal  issues are a motivating factor for Trump’s desire to retake the White House.” 

MSNBC

If Donald Trump did win a second term in 2024, the DOJ investigation would be cancelled in the blink of an eye…

No matter whether Trump is charged or not, the January 6th hearings have presented plenty of evidence of wrongdoing by Trump after he lost the 2020 election. 

If Trump is a candidate for 2024, it will be up to the Republican party to decide whether he’s the candidate they want to support. 

At least some of them might have this question from Liz Cheney ringing in their ears: 

“Can a President who is willing to make the choices Donald Trump made during the violence of January 6th ever be trusted with any position of authority in our great nation again?”    

Liz Cheney, C-Span

This episode was written by Ella Hill and mixed by Patricia Clarke.