January 6 Committee Wants Trump’s Perfect Call To His Coup Buddies At Willard Hotel
On January 5, the night before the MAGA mob stormed the Capitol, Donald Trump called his goons at the Willard Hotel in Washington, DC, as part of a last-ditch effort to stop Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory. Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson, the chairman of the House select committee investigating the attack, has announced that the panel will look into just how legal and cool Trump’s call really was:
The chairman said the select committee intended to scrutinize the phone call – revealed last month by the Guardian – should they prevail in their legal effort to obtain Trump White House records over the former president’s objections of executive privilege.
“That’s right,” Thompson said when asked by the Guardian whether the select committee would look into Trump’s phone call, and suggested House investigators had already started to consider ways to investigate Trump’s demand that Biden not be certified as president on 6 January.
Trump’s evil scheme was to overrule the voters and steal a second term. Several Trump lawyers reportedly insist that they "only considered delaying Biden’s certification at the request of state legislators because of voter fraud,” but the Trump campaign’s claims of voter fraud were repeatedly rejected and laughed out of court. There was no legal way for Trump to remain president. Period.
Trump reportedly told his cabal, which included Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman, Boris Epshteyn and Steve Bannon, that former Vice President Mike Pence wasn’t playing along, and he pressed his democracy-smashing squad to come up with a way to stop Biden’s certification on January 6, which would buy them time to send Congress an alternate slate of phony Trump electors.
As I mentioned when we first reported on the fateful Willard call, what matters is motive and intent. Trump was delusional enough to believe stopping the electoral vote count would help him hold onto power. The objective was to delay, delay, delay, and what could’ve been more conducive to that goal than a MAGA mob storming the Capitol?
Over the past few months, the January 6 committee has looked hard at Trump’s pals who were hanging at the Willard hotel. Bannon and Eastman have both been subpoenaed. It’s believed that Giuliani will be next to receive a subpoena stocking stuffer.
According to the Guardian, Trump called lawyers and non-lawyers at the Willard separately, because Giuliani — a real Wile E. Coyote genius lawyer — claimed this would preserve attorney-client privilege on “sensitive calls.” However, Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin, a member of the select committee, both scoffed at and mocked this legal theory.
“The attorney-client privilege does not operate to shield participants in a crime from an investigation into a crime,” Raskin said. “If it did, then all you would have to do to rob a bank is bring a lawyer with you, and be asking for advice along the way.”
It does seem as if Trump thought he could steal the presidency while invoking a laundry list of privileges (executive, attorney client) to save his skin.
Although the select committee can't ask the National Archives for records about specific calls, Thompson said, “if we say we want all White House calls made on January 5 and 6, if [Trump] made it on a White House phone, then obviously we would look at it there.”
It’s probably wise to use a burner phone when plotting to overthrow the legally elected government, but I contend that Trump is a pretty stupid criminal, so it’s possible he used a White House phone. Unfortunately, calls placed from the White House residence, where Trump preferred to work, aren’t automatically stored and sent to the National Archives at the end of a presidential administration. So, even if the committee gains access to the records, they might only learn the time of the calls and the recipients, and Trump’s thugs are so far keeping quiet like classic Goodfellas.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."