Former US attorney explains why she would be 'champing at the bit' to prosecute Trump over the Capitol riot

Appearing on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Monday morning, former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance said that prosecuting Donald Trump for inciting a seditious attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6th that had lawmakers fleeing for their lives would be problematic, but that she would relish the opportunity to put the former president on trial.

On the day that 43 Republican members of the U.S. Senate refused to convict Trump for his part in the riot that led to death and destruction, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) surprisingly presented a strong case for prosecutors outside of the Senate to go after the ex-president.

While any major investigation by the Justice Department to pursue an investigation into the ex-president's culpability is likely on hold until the Senate approves the appointment of Judge Merrick Garland to head up the Justice Department, Vance said the path to prosecution already exists.

"You have to deal with the state of mind issues and what the former president intended to do which, as you point out, [Morning Joe regular] Jonathan [Lemire], why he made all of these exculpatory statements after the fact when he realized he might have found himself in the crosshairs of law enforcement," Vance explained. "The most compelling piece of evidence about Donald Trump's state of mind is his reaction to the insurrection as it was unfolded -- reports that he was delighted, his failure to take steps to stop it."

"When confronted by [House Minority Leader] Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and told they were his supporters in the Capitol, that he was the only person that could stop it, he didn't act in the moment," she elaborated. "That's the sort of evidence when a jury hears it and the judge tells them they can infer a state of mind from someone's reactions to events could be very compelling. But, again, I'm going to hedge my bets because prosecutors have the obligation of proving a crime beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury."

"The federal principles of prosecution tell prosecutors not to indict unless they have sufficient evidence, that means evidence admissible in court. and it has to be sufficient evidence to obtain a conviction and also to sustain it on appeal," she continued. "That means proof beyond a reasonable doubt that is something that really can't be subject to a different interpretation that's exculpatory to the president. So, look, I'm bullish on this case. I have to be honest and say that if I was involved in the investigation, I'd be champing at the bit -- there's a lot of good evidence but it's far from a sure thing. Proving intent is tough."

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