When Donald Trump faces a jury on charges stemming from his bid to subvert the 2020 election, he wants to prohibit federal prosecutors from even mentioning the chaos and violence unleashed by his supporters at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. But to special counsel Jack Smith, Trump’s role in the riot is the heart of the case.
A new court filing from Smith’s team this week reveals that the mob that stormed Congress in Trump’s name will be the centerpiece of his trial, scheduled to begin on March 4. It wasn’t just an unfortunate reaction to Trump’s incendiary remarks that day, prosecutors contend. It was a tool that Trump used to launch one last desperate bid to cling to power.
Trump’s criminal conspiracies “culminated and converged” on Jan. 6, when he attempted to prevent Congress from finalizing Joe Biden’s victory, argued senior assistant special counsel Molly Gaston.
“One of the ways that the defendant did so … was to direct an angry crowd of his supporters to the Capitol and to continue to stoke their anger while they were rioting,” Gaston wrote in the filing.
In a way, Smith is now casting Trump’s trial as a long-awaited collision between two distinct narratives: Trump’s monthslong campaign to use lies about election fraud to pressure state and federal election officials to keep him in power; and the rioters who embraced Trump’s false claims and took violent action on his behalf on Jan. 6. Those investigations have largely moved along separate tracks in the Washington courts, where a revolving door of Jan. 6 riot defendants have faced punishment while Smith’s grand jury, just a few paces down the hall, worked secretly on the Trump probe….
Smith’s strategy to knit the streams of evidence together is a natural outgrowth of the investigation but also a risky one. Judges in Washington have noted that Trump didn’t explicitly tell his supporters to breach barricades, commit violence or break other laws, and they’ve held repeatedly that defendants who sought to blame Trump for their illegal conduct were responsible for their own actions. Trump is not charged with inciting the riot, and he’s currently fighting legal battles over whether he’s immune from civil lawsuits related to remarks that day….
Yet the argument that Trump bears responsibility for causing and exploiting the riot is also familiar; it harkens directly to the one made by the House Jan. 6 select committee in its public hearings and report. Trump didn’t just assemble and stoke the violent mob that day, the panel argued; he used it to keep pressure on lawmakers and then-Vice President Mike Pence to further derail the day’s constitutionally mandated proceedings.
Jan. 6 committee veterans say the echoes of their case are both a necessary part of the story for prosecutors to tell and a validation of their work.
“They’re going to adopt the very same factual theory here and tell the same story that we did, that [the riot] is the logical last step of an increasingly desperate conspiracy,” Tim Heaphy, the former chief investigative counsel for the select committee, said in a phone interview.
The words in Smith’s filing are almost verbatim the case that the committee’s vice chair, Liz Cheney, made at the panel’s first public hearing….
Where are they gonna find juror’s in Washington D.C. that do NOT know about Trump and the Capitol protest and violence AND Donald Trump?