Secret Service expert explains why two key witnesses could sink Trump
Donald Trump (Shutterstock)

Washington Post reporter Carol Leonnig, who has long followed and reported on the Secret Service, cited the two White House staffers who appeared before the grand jury and were asked questions about former President Donald Trump.

ABC News reported this week that Marc Short was seen exiting the courthouse where the grand jury was meeting. He is among the first White House aides that were brought in to testify. While grand jury investigations are secret for lawyers and jurors, witnesses can answer questions publicly. Those White House aides have told reporters that they were asked directly about Trump.

Leonnig recalled that Short was among those in the Oval Office on the day that Vice President Mike Pence was being pressured not to certify the election on Jan. 6. There was a debate that unfolded where the White House Counsel and other legal advisers told Trump that it wasn't legal to stop the certification.

Lawyer John Eastman was among those on hand representing the campaign efforts and admitted in front of the president that not only would it not work, that all of the Supreme Court justices would refuse to support the efforts as well. The House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on Congress and attempt to overthrow the election brought Justice Department witnesses to testify that made it clear that Trump knew that the attempt to stop the certification was illegal.

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"There are a lot of fact pieces to the way in which Trump pulled levers and used his officialdom, his office, the White House machinery to try to push the big lie and block Joe Biden from ascending to his rightful place in the White House from the votes of the American people. Pence's two senior aides have a lot of firsts testimony to provide. They were in the room with President Trump. They were on the phone with their boss and President Trump. They know -- in the case of Short, he's present when Trump repeatedly pressures Pence to not certify the election even though there are people in front of them saying this plan is poppycock and illegal and unconstitutional, and that Trump was alerted to that frequently."

Leonnig said that they're not exactly the linchpins in the investigation but they are critical to the probe because they can reveal so much about Trump's state of mind.

"And they can not take you deep in, but they can tell you what he said," she said. "They can tell you what his reaction was to that's not legal. I think of another critical moment, I would imagine that there are key former justice department officials that are also being asked for their testimony just as they were asked by the Jan. 6 committee. People like, as we say in the story, Mr. [Richard] Donohue and Mr. Jeffrey Rosen at the Justice Department who were present when then-President Donald Trump was told, 'look, you didn't win the election. We can't slip a switch and change the results.' And Donald Trump's reaction to them as they've testified was, you know, that's okay. I'm not asking you to flip the switch. 'Just say it was rigged and we'll take it from there. It really gives you a sense of where Donald Trump's head is at."

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