The Justice Department investigation into the unconstitutional effort to overturn Donald Trump's election loss has picked up speed since the start of the Jan. 6 committee's public hearings, and that has put new pressure on the scheme's architects.
The FBI has seized electronic devices from former DOJ official Jeffrey Clark and Trump lawyer John Eastman, who concocted the "fake electors" scheme, and witnesses have testified that they asked for pardons along with Rudy Giuliani, putting all three under intense legal heat, reported The Guardian.
“The strong evidence presented about the fake electors scheme at recent House committee hearings, including testimony by senior Justice Department officials, laid the foundation for charging Trump’s legal advisers, Eastman and Giuliani, and possibly Clark, with multiple state and federal crimes including obstruction of an official proceeding, conspiracy to defraud the United States, false statements in connection with the fake electors scheme, and election fraud," said former DOJ prosecutor Michael Zeldin.
The committee has heard testimony from former attorney general William Barr, who called Trump's claims about election fraud "bullsh*t," and several insiders who said that White House counsel Pat Cipollone -- who will testify Friday -- told the former president and his allies their efforts were most likely illegal.
“The cumulative evidence presented over the course of the hearings paint a picture of a president who was told explicitly by multiple people that he lost the election and that once he exhausted his judicial remedies (losing nearly 60 cases) his continuing pressure campaign to prevent the orderly transfer of power was illegal," Zeldin said. “Yet Trump and his attorneys persisted.”
Other former prosecutors say the raids indicate investigations into Clark and Eastman have escalated, which The Guardian reported "could fuel charges against Trump," who was at the center of the scheme, for obstruction of an official proceeding or defrauding the U.S. government.
“Search warrants of Clark and Eastman’s phones means that a judge found probable cause to believe that evidence of a crime would be found on each of those devices,” said former U.S. attorney Barbara McQuade.
U.S. District Court judge David Carter has already ruled that Trump "more likely than not" broke the law by trying to overturn his election loss, and so he ordered Eastman to turn over more than 100 emails he had withheld from the House select committee.
“Dr. Eastman and President Trump launched a campaign to overturn a democratic election, an action unprecedented in American history,” Carter wrote in his order.
Cassidy Hutchinson, a former White House aide who testified publicly and at length about those efforts, delivered powerful evidence of criminality by the former president and his allies, including Eastman and Giuliani, according to another former DOJ official.
"[She] might be the final nail in the legal jeopardy coffin of Trump’s coterie of lawyers and enablers," said Paul Pelletier, a former acting chief of DoJ’s fraud section. “Hutchinson’s testimony has lifted the curtain on the false narrative that the violent Capitol confrontation was spontaneous."
Former federal prosecutor Dennis Aftergut said investigators appear closer to pursuing criminal charges against Clark, Eastman and Giuliani, which puts the twice-impeached former president in ever more legal peril.
“Giuliani and Eastman seeking pardons is powerful evidence of ‘consciousness of guilt’,” Aftergut said, and at least one of them may be convinced to flip. “The earliest cooperators generally get the best deals from prosecutors … any of them could potentially provide damaging evidence against the other two and Trump.”