Donald Trump's actions in the lead-up to the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection have been increasingly coming into focus, according to a reporter who has broken some major news about the congressional investigation.
The House select committee will open an investigation of a call Trump made to the Willard hotel, where his allies Steve Bannon, Rudy Giuliani and others were huddled in a "war room" as part of an effort to disrupt the certification of Joe Biden's election win, and Guardian reporter Hugo Lowell -- who first revealed that call -- told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" what that means for the probe.
"It's a pivotal moment the night of Jan. 5 and Jan. 6 when Trump picked up the phone call from the White House," Lowell said. "According to sources, he instructed his operatives the find ways to stop the certification from taking place at all at the joint session of Congress on Jan. 6. If you speak to Trump's allies, this is not a big deal -- he was just trying to find ways to delay certification and find another day, but I always thought this was a really disingenuous characterization because, either way, through action or inaction, he managed to get the certification stopped, and the Capitol was attacked and now it's going to loom large in the committee's investigation."
The twice-impeached one-term president has claimed executive privilege over hundreds of documents, and Lowell predicted the U.S. Supreme Court would decide in the spring whether Congress may see that evidence, and he agreed the committee would eventually take some action against Trump personally.
"It's increasingly becoming more likely because they are looking at criminal referrals for the former president," Lowell said. "They're still looking at Bannon and they're still looking at Giuliani and [John] Eastman. These are the guys at the Willard that Trump called up Jan. 5 and sought advice. There were multiple war rooms. There is one with Eastman, Giuliani and Bannon and there was a separate one is where people like [Michael] Flynn and Roger Stone and Alex Jones. There was, like, a massive operation happening at the Willard."
"This is going to bloom really pivotally in the investigation," he added. "But it's true, they are now focusing on the culpability of Trump himself and whether he directed the Willard to then direct the Capitol attack, and if there was some sort of ongoing conspiracy."
The select committee has been criticized for moving too slowly ahead of next year’s midterm elections, but Lowell said they had already gathered substantial evidence despite Trump’s efforts to stall the investigation.“
"They're up against this deadline," he said. "It’s a hard deadline, it’s the end of this Congress at the latest because if Republicans retake the majority and this is the end of the committee, they’re not going to want to reinstate committee. So they are up against this time limit, but they have amassed a real trove of evidence. They spoke to [Mark] Meadows, he ultimately decided not to cooperate, and he did provide a trove of documents and communication and text messages which we have only seen a sliver of, and those are already quite damning, and Trump is in a bit of a meltdown, from what we understand, down in Mar-A-Lago."
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