The Department of Justice cannot afford to wait until a House committee completes its investigation of the Capitol insurrection before launching a criminal probe of former president Donald Trump and his allies for trying to overturn the results of the 2020 election, according to Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe.
Tribe, who called for a DOJ investigation of Trump's failed coup as early as August, said Thursday night that a recent "cascade" of evidence uncovered by the House select committee only reaffirms his position.
Tribe said the evidence suggests that Trump, former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, several Republican members of Congress and others may be guilty of federal crimes including conspiring to disrupt an official proceeding, and giving aid and comfort to an insurrection.
"What we have is an avalanche of information about texts and emails and other communications directly to the White House, directly to Mark Meadows who was at Donald Trump's side, so the question of whether it was Tump alone or Trump and Meadows, or both of them with the six members of Congress who were in constant contact with the White House — all of them seem to be involved in a conspiracy to commit a very serious federal crime punishable by 20 years in federal prison," Tribe said. "And to the extent that they were aiding and giving comfort to an insurrection, that too is punishable by 10 more years, and importantly by permanent disqualification from holding federal office."
Tribe added that he believes Attorney General Merrick Garland is "'almost certainly going to confront a referral for criminal investigation and prosecution of some very high officials."
He also quoted Benjamin Franklin, who said America is "a republic if you can keep it."
"To keep it, we really have to up our game at the justice department, and I'm hopeful," Tribe said. "I can't quite say I'm confident because there's no indication yet that a serious grand jury investigation is under way of the people at the top of the attempted coup and the insurrection, but I am hopeful that Merrick Garland will wait no longer, and that we are about to see a serious criminal investigation of not only the foot soldiers, but of the generals, and the top general of them all."
Tribe added that he thinks it would be "a big mistake" if the DOJ waits until the committee completes its probe before launching an investigation, because "memories fade" and "people shade their testimony to meet what they've already heard."
"It's important that a parallel investigation by the FBI be under way right now, and the justice department, with all of its power, not simply wait for Congress, but move full speed ahead to investigate fully the criminal responsibility of those who tried to overturn a free and fair election in the United States," he said. "It's the first time it's gone this far. We cannot let it happen again, and the only way to avoid that is to invoke these laws that among other things disqualify people from every holding office if they take an oath to uphold the Constitution and then plot to subvert."
Watch the full interview below.
Laurence Tribe on MSNBC www.youtube.com