by Gabe Fleisher
Good morning! It’s Thursday, March 3, 2022. Election Day 2022 is 250 days away. Election Day 2024 is 978 days away.
January 6 committee accuses Trump of criminal activity
The House select committee investigating the January 6 attack claimed on Wednesday to have evidence that former President Donald Trump and his allies engaged in criminal activity during their efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
That assertion came from a filing submitted by the panel in its ongoing legal fight with John Eastman, a lawyer who assisted Trump in his post-election efforts.
Eastman is best known for his role in advancing the fringe legal theory — which was embraced by Trump — that then-Vice President Mike Pence had the authority to keep Trump in power by deciding which electors to count at the January 6 Electoral College certification.
The House committee is currently trying to obtain thousands of emails from Eastman, who claims he is protected by attorney-client privilege, which prevents lawyers from revealing communications with their clients. But that privilege does not apply if an attorney aided their client in committing a crime — which the January 6 panel suggested on Wednesday that Eastman did.
To be clear, the select committee is not conducting a criminal investigation and does not have the authority to formally charge anyone with breaking the law. But the panel can make criminal referrals to the Justice Department, and Wednesday’s filing was the first time the committee laid out the potential charges it may recommend against Trump, Eastman, and others.
Here are the three crimes the committee accuses Trump of committing in the filing, which draws on numerous interviews and documents:
1) “Obstruction of an Official Proceeding”
- The committee said it has evidence that provide “a good-faith basis for concluding” that President Trump violated 18 U.S.C. § 1512(c)(2), which criminalizes corrupt attempts to “obstruct, influence, or impede an official proceeding of the United States.”
- This accusation stems from the public and private efforts by Trump and Eastman to push Pence to reject electors during the January 6 certification. The committee said there would have been “no valid lawful basis” for Pence to do that, so the efforts to convince him otherwise constitute an attempt to obstruct the certification, an “official proceeding” of Congress. 2) “Conspiracy to Defraud the United States”
- The committee “also has a good-faith basis for concluding that the president and members of his campaign engaged in a criminal conspiracy to defraud the United States in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371,” the filing goes on to claim.
- In this section, the committee accuses Trump and Eastman of “disseminating false information about election fraud” and pressuring federal officials to alter the election outcome based on those false claims.
- The committee also suggests that their acts may constitute a “criminal conspiracy” with the January 6 rioters. 3) “Common Law Fraud”
- Finally, the committee says there is “evidence to support a good-faith, reasonable belief” that a review of the materials they’ve obtained “may reveal that the president and members of his campaign engaged in common law fraud in connection with their efforts to overturn the 2020 election results.”
- In Washington, D.C., the filing notes, common law fraud is defined as action taken to advance “a false representation in reference to material fact,” which the perpetrator takes with “knowledge of its falsity” and an “intent to deceive.” Here, the committee suggests Trump was aware his claims of election fraud were false, but pushed them anyways and pressured officials to act on them.
- Again, the January 6 rioters are mentioned, as the panel cites them as evidence that “many members of the public acted in reliance on the president’s statements.”
The latest in Ukraine: Russia continues to make gains in Ukraine’s south, even as Ukrainian forces stymie their efforts to take over Kyiv and Kharkiv in the north. Russia captured its first major city, Kherson, as part of its offensive in the south on Wednesday.
- Meanwhile, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution strongly condemning the Russian invasion on Wednesday, with 141 countries in favor, 35 abstaining, and five opposed. See how each country voted
- According to the UN’s top refugee official, the number of refugees who have fled Ukraine since the Russian invasion began has now exceeded 1 million.
Another January 6 development: Joshua James, an Alabama man who participated in the Capitol attack, pleaded guilty on Wednesday to charges of “seditious conspiracy.” A member of the far-right Oath Keepers militia group, he is the first January 6 rioter to plead guilty to that more serious charge.
Mark your calendars: The confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson will kick off on March 21, Senate Democrats announced. Jackson held her first meetings on Capitol Hill on Wednesday since her nomination was announced, sitting down with both Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, as well as the leaders of the Judiciary panel.
All times Eastern.
— President Joe Biden will hold a secure video call at 9 a.m. with the leaders of the other “Quad” nations — Australia, India, and Japan — to discuss the war in Ukraine and its implications for the Indo-Pacific. Then, he will receive his daily intelligence briefing at 11:15 a.m. and hold a Cabinet meeting, his first since November 12, at 2 p.m.
At 5 p.m., he will sign H.R. 4445, the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act, into law. The bill, which passed the House in a 335-97 vote and the Senate by voice vote, would prohibit companies from contractually forcing employees to go through a private arbitration process when making allegations of sexual assault or harassment.
The measure, described by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer as “one of the most significant changes to employment law in years,” would cancel any existing contracts that enforce forced arbitration for such claims and allow victims to publicly sue their harassers going forward.
— Vice President Kamala Harris will join Biden for the Cabinet meeting and the bill signing. They will both deliver remarks at the bill signing, which will also be attended by Attorney General Merrick Garland and Labor Secretary Marty Walsh.
— White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki will hold her daily press briefing at 1 p.m.
— The Senate will convene at 10 a.m. The chamber is expected to vote at 2 p.m. on passage of S.J.Res. 38, a resolution authored by Sen. Roger Marshall (R-KS) that would end the national emergency for Covid-19 which former President Donald Trump originally declared in March 2020. The emergency designation was set to expire this week, but Biden extended it indefinitely last month.
— The Senate Banking Committee will hold a hearing at 10 a.m. on monetary policy and the economy. Acting Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell will testify. Republicans on the panel are currently holding up several Biden nominations to the Fed board — including Powell’s bid for another for a second four-year term — over objections to Sarah Bloom Raskin, who has been nominated to serve as vice chair for supervision.
— The House will convene at 9 a.m. The chamber will resume consideration of H.R. 3967, the Honoring our PACT Act. The measure would offer expanded access to health benefits to approximately 3.5 million veterans who were exposed to burn pits and other toxic airborne hazards while serving in the military.
The chamber will debate and vote on various amendments to the measure before voting on its final passage.
— House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will hold her weekly press conference at 10:45 a.m.
— The House Oversight and Reform Committee will hold a hearing at 10 a.m. on “the neglected epidemic of missing BIPOC women and girls.”
— The Supreme Court will announce opinions at 10 a.m.
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