A legal expert revealed how prosecutors have signaled that former president Donald Trump has landed in the "crosshairs" of their investigation.
The New York Times reported that federal prosecutors have recently begun asking defense attorneys for some Jan. 6 rioters whether their clients would admit in sworn statements that they charged into the U.S. Capitol to stop then-vice president Mike Pence from certifying President Joe Biden's election win, and law professor Ryan Goodman on Tuesday explained to CNN's John Berman the significance of those request.
"Up until now we had no public sign that the Department of Justice was, in fact, investigating former President Trump, and this really is the first strong indication that they have in their crosshairs, in a certain sense, Trump and his activities that they would be, in fact, asking these lower level individuals, foot soldiers and the like, whether or not they would commit in writing and in plea agreements to seeing that they were there at the behest of Trump or because they thought the president wanted them there," Goodman said. "That's very significant. It shows that they're really thinking about him, in particular."
The New York University Law School professor said that development appeared to converge with a theory pursued by the House select committee, which is investigating whether Trump wanted his supporters to block the certification and pressure Pence to undo his election loss.
"A great number of the people who have been charged have been charged with that very law, obstruction of the congressional proceedings, and that's what Rep. Liz Cheney has hinted at," Goodman said. "She's raised the question, you know, can former President Trump be found liable under that law for aiding and abetting or inciting or being engaged in a conspiracy as a federal crime."
The judge in a civil case against Trump over the Jan. 6 riot is considering whether the former president's silence amounted to "agreement" with their actions, which Goodman said could provide investigators with a "road map" for prosecutors.
"The judge is, in some sense, providing us all a road map for how he may decide, how the select committee may work, and how the Department of Justice may work, that the inaction of the president is not just a failure to act, but it actually is a strong suggestion or indication as a matter of evidence that there was an agreement and that what the people did that day, the rioters, was in agreement with him, and what he wanted them to do," Goodman said.
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