'A target-rich environment': House riot hearings ramp up Trump indictment odds
Donald Trump (Photo by Paul Richards for AFP)

In interviews with the Guardian's Peter Stone, a bevy of former Department of Justice officials explained that the House committee hearings on the Jan 6th insurrection have already provided enough evidence to file criminal charges against Donald Trump.

Summing up what he has seen so far, Paul Pelletier, the former acting chief of the DoJ’s fraud section, described it as a “... target-rich environment, with many accessories both before and after the fact to be investigated.

According to Stone, "The panel’s initial hearings provided a kind of legal roadmap about Trump’s multi-faceted drives – in tandem with some top lawyers and loyalists – to thwart Biden from taking office, that should benefit justice department prosecutors in their sprawling investigations into the January 6 assault on the Capitol by a mob of Trump supporters," before adding, "Ex-justice department lawyers say new revelations at the hearings increase the likelihood that Trump will be charged with crimes involving conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding or defrauding the United States, as he took desperate and seemingly illegal steps to undermine Biden’s election."

Former inspector general Michael Bromwich explained, "The January 6 committee’s investigation has developed substantial, compelling evidence that Trump committed crimes, including but not limited to conspiracy to defraud the United States and obstruct official proceedings,” a comment that was echoed by former deputy attorney general Donald Ayer who suggested, "...the committee hearings have bolstered the need to seriously consider filing criminal charges against Trump.”

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Noting that any prosecution of Trump will rely on investigators proving the former president knew he was lying when pressing fraud claims, the report adds that former DoJ employees feel that their case can be made.

Former U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade pointed to the videotaped testimony of former Trump administration Attorney General Bill Barr as a key piece of evidence, saying his comments under oath were “devastating for Trump. He and other Trump insiders who testified about their conversations with Trump established that Trump knew he had lost the election and continued to make public claims of fraud anyway. That knowledge can help establish the fraudulent intent necessary to prove criminal offenses against Trump.”

For his part, Bromwich pointed to Trump's infamous phone call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, explaining, "How else to explain his attempts to pressure the Georgia secretary of state to ‘find the votes’ necessary to change the result? Or his telling DoJ officials to simply declare the election ‘corrupt’ and leave ‘the rest to me’ and Republican House allies?”

He added, "All of this shows not someone incapable of forming criminal intent, but someone who understood what the facts were and was determined not to accept them. Because he couldn’t stand to lose. That was far more important to him than honoring our institutions or the constitution.”

The Guardian's Stone added, "Simmering tensions between the panel and the justice department have escalated over DoJ requests – rebuffed so far – to obtain 1,000 witness transcripts of committee interviews, which prosecutors say are needed for upcoming trials of Proud Boys and other cases. However, the New York Times has reported some witness transcripts could be shared next month."

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