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    Justice department asks Pence to testify in Trump investigation

    Justice department asks Pence to testify in Trump investigationEx-vice-president considering the request, according to sources, but said last week he would not testify to the January 6 panel The US Department of Justice has asked Mike Pence to testify in its investigation of Donald Trump’s election subversion and the former vice-president was considering the request, sources with knowledge of the situation have told the Guardian.So Help Me God review: Mike Pence’s tortured bid for Republican relevanceRead moreLast week, Pence said he would not testify to the House January 6 committee, telling CBS: “Congress has no right to my testimony on separation of powers under the constitution of the United States. And I believe it will establish a terrible precedent for the Congress to summon a vice-president of the United States to speak about deliberations that took place at the White House.”Pence also said the committee, made up of seven Democrats and two Republicans, was too partisan. The chair and vice-chair of the panel, Bennie Thompson and Liz Cheney, rejected that charge.The New York Times first reported the news of the approach to Pence and said he recognised that the Department of Justice investigation could not be dismissed.The newspaper said the request to Pence was made before the attorney general, Merrick Garland, announced last Friday the appointment of a special counsel to oversee the justice department investigation.Garland said the appointment of the career prosecutor Jack Smith would not slow the investigation of Trump’s attempt to stay in power despite losing the 2020 election to Joe Biden, culminating in the deadly Capitol attack on 6 January 2021.Smith will also oversee the investigation of Trump’s retention of White House records.Trump has tried to stop other senior aides testifying to the Department of Justice, claiming executive privilege. Many aides have been served with subpoenas.Pence and the Department of Justice did not immediately comment on the Times report.On Sunday, Pence was asked if he thought Trump committed a crime in connection with the events of January 6, when some Trump supporters who attacked the Capitol chanted “Hang Mike Pence”.Pence told NBC: “I don’t know if it is criminal to listen to bad advice from lawyers.”Eyeing his own presidential run in 2024, Pence must pursue a balancing act as he seeks to distance himself from Trump while appealing to Republican voters.In that spirit he has published a memoir, So Help Me God, which deals in detail with his version of events during his time at Trump’s side. The book includes an extensive account of Pence’s role in and views of Trump’s attempts to stay in office.Pence ultimately refused to block certification of electoral college results, a process over which he presided. Trump, he writes, said he was “too honest” to take part in a plot based on claims of widespread electoral fraud. But Pence also says Republicans were right to lodge objections to results in key states, as it “meant we would have a substantive debate”.Either way, it seems Trump would have reason to fear testimony to the Department of Justice by his former vice-president. In his book and in interviews to promote it, Pence has made clear he blames Trump for the Capitol riot.Earlier this month, Pence told ABC Trump’s words and actions “angered me”.“But I turned to my daughter who was standing nearby. And I said, ‘It doesn’t take courage to break the law. It takes courage to uphold the law.’ The president’s words were reckless. It’s clear he decided to be part of the problem.”TopicsMike PenceDonald TrumpLaw (US)US Capitol attacknewsReuse this content More

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    Jury deliberates on Oath Keepers’ January 6 role in seditious conspiracy trial – live

    The Oath Keepers don’t dispute that some of their members were around the Capitol on January 6, but jurors need to believe they entered the building in an attempt to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s election win. Whether prosecutors have succeeded at this will be key to determining if they win a conviction in the seditious conspiracy case. Here’s more from the Associated Press on what’s come out of the trial so far:As angry supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the US Capitol, ready to smash through windows and beat police officers, Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes extolled them as patriots and harked back to the battle that kicked off the American revolutionary war.“Next comes our Lexington,” Rhodes told his fellow far-right extremists in a message on 6 January 2021. “It’s coming.”Jurors will begin weighing his words and actions on Tuesday, after nearly two months of testimony and argument in the criminal trial of Rhodes and four codefendants. Final defense arguments wrapped up late Monday. Hundreds of people have been convicted in the attack that left dozens of officers injured, sent lawmakers running for their lives and shook the foundations of American democracy. Now jurors in the case against Rhodes and four associates will decide, for the first time, whether the actions of any January 6 defendants amount to seditious conspiracy – a rarely used charge that carries both significant prison time and political weight.The jury’s verdict may well address the false notion that the 2020 presidential election was stolen, coming soon after 2022 midterm results in which voters rejected Trump’s chosen Republican candidates who supported his baseless claims of fraud. The outcome could also shape the future of the justice department’s massive and costly prosecution of the insurrection that some conservatives have sought to portray as politically motivated.Failure to secure a seditious conspiracy conviction could spell trouble for another high-profile trial beginning next month of former Proud Boys national chairman Enrique Tarrio and other leaders of that extremist group. The justice department’s January 6 probe has also expanded beyond those who attacked the Capitol to focus on others linked to Trump’s efforts to overturn the election.In the Oath Keepers trial, prosecutors built their case using dozens of encrypted messages sent in the weeks leading up to January 6. They show Rhodes rallying his followers to fight to defend Trump and warning they might need to “rise up in insurrection”.“We aren’t getting through this without a civil war. Prepare your mind, body and spirit,” he wrote shortly after the 2020 election.Jury deliberations begin in January 6 sedition trial of Oath Keepers founderRead moreDemocratic incumbent Raphael Warnock has a slight lead over his Republican challenger Herschel Walker ahead of the 6 December run-off election for Georgia’s Senate seat, a poll released today finds.The survey by AARP Georgia finds Warnock has 51% support over Walker’s 47%. The Democrat has an edge among young voters, while Walker is more popular among people older than 50, which are a large part of the electorate.Walker and Warnock are battling for a Senate seat that Democrats took control of only last year in a special election. While Joe Biden’s allies have secured a majority in Congress’s upper chamber for another two years, a victory by Warnock would pad their margin of control. Republicans, meanwhile, hope Walker’s victory would put them in a better position to retake the chamber in the next elections set for 2024.Top House Republican Kevin McCarthy will make a “major” announcement about homeland security secretary Alejandro Mayorkas today, Fox News reports:NEW: GOP Minority Leader/Speaker elect Kevin McCarthy tells me he will be making a “major” announcement regarding DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas at a press conference in El Paso, TX this afternoon. McCarthy is here w/ a GOP delegation touring the border & meeting w/ BP agents.— Bill Melugin (@BillFOXLA) November 22, 2022
    The announcement will come during McCarthy’s visit to El Paso, Texas, where he will probably draw attention to the surge in migrant arrivals at the US-Mexico border since Joe Biden took office. Republicans have criticized the White House for its handling of the situation, and rightwing lawmakers in Congress have reportedly called for impeachment proceedings against Mayorkas, a rare step to take against a sitting cabinet secretary.McCarthy is hoping to be elected speaker of the House when Republicans take control next year, after winning a majority of seats in the 8 November midterms. But he is scrambling to find the votes after several of the chamber’s most conservative lawmakers said they would not support him.Republican Senator Lindsey Graham will today appear before a special grand jury investigating efforts by Donald Trump’s allies to meddle with Georgia’s election result, Fox 5 Atlanta reports.Graham has fought the subpoena from Fulton county district attorney Fani Willis for months, but exhausted his legal options when the supreme court turned down his challenge earlier this month. The South Carolina lawmaker’s appearance before jurors in an Atlanta courthouse will not be public, but Willis could use evidence he provides to bring charges in the case.The district attorney has said she wants to ask Graham about two calls he made to Georgia’s secretary of state Brad Raffensperger and his officials following the 2020 election, in which he alleged voter fraud in the state and asked about the possibility of “reexamining certain absentee ballots,” Fox 5 reports. Georgia was one of several states whose votes for Joe Biden proved crucial to his election victory two years ago.The Oath Keepers don’t dispute that some of their members were around the Capitol on January 6, but jurors need to believe they entered the building in an attempt to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s election win. Whether prosecutors have succeeded at this will be key to determining if they win a conviction in the seditious conspiracy case. Here’s more from the Associated Press on what’s come out of the trial so far:As angry supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the US Capitol, ready to smash through windows and beat police officers, Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes extolled them as patriots and harked back to the battle that kicked off the American revolutionary war.“Next comes our Lexington,” Rhodes told his fellow far-right extremists in a message on 6 January 2021. “It’s coming.”Jurors will begin weighing his words and actions on Tuesday, after nearly two months of testimony and argument in the criminal trial of Rhodes and four codefendants. Final defense arguments wrapped up late Monday. Hundreds of people have been convicted in the attack that left dozens of officers injured, sent lawmakers running for their lives and shook the foundations of American democracy. Now jurors in the case against Rhodes and four associates will decide, for the first time, whether the actions of any January 6 defendants amount to seditious conspiracy – a rarely used charge that carries both significant prison time and political weight.The jury’s verdict may well address the false notion that the 2020 presidential election was stolen, coming soon after 2022 midterm results in which voters rejected Trump’s chosen Republican candidates who supported his baseless claims of fraud. The outcome could also shape the future of the justice department’s massive and costly prosecution of the insurrection that some conservatives have sought to portray as politically motivated.Failure to secure a seditious conspiracy conviction could spell trouble for another high-profile trial beginning next month of former Proud Boys national chairman Enrique Tarrio and other leaders of that extremist group. The justice department’s January 6 probe has also expanded beyond those who attacked the Capitol to focus on others linked to Trump’s efforts to overturn the election.In the Oath Keepers trial, prosecutors built their case using dozens of encrypted messages sent in the weeks leading up to January 6. They show Rhodes rallying his followers to fight to defend Trump and warning they might need to “rise up in insurrection”.“We aren’t getting through this without a civil war. Prepare your mind, body and spirit,” he wrote shortly after the 2020 election.Jury deliberations begin in January 6 sedition trial of Oath Keepers founderRead moreGood morning, US politics blog readers. A Washington federal jury is starting deliberations in the trial of five members of the Oath Keepers militia, including its founder Stewart Rhodes. The group stands accused of seditious conspiracy, a rarely used charge that prosecutors say is an appropriate way to describe the alleged plot they attempted to carry out on January 6 to stop Joe Biden from taking office. The trial will be an important indicator of if the government can win convictions against the most violent actors in the insurrection, and a verdict could come at any time.Here’s what else is happening today:
    Top House Republican Kevin McCarthy is visiting border patrol personnel in El Paso, Texas. Expect him to talk up the GOP’s plan to address the surge of migrant arrivals at the US-Mexico border when they take control of the House next year, and criticize Joe Biden’s handling of the situation.
    Biden is heading to Nantucket, Massachusetts, this afternoon for the Thanksgiving holiday.
    Anthony Fauci and Covid-19 response coordinator Ashish Jha will appear at the daily White House press briefing at 11.30am eastern time, where they’ll likely talk about the threat of coronavirus during the holiday season. More

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    Republican who voted to impeach Trump re-elected to US House

    Republican who voted to impeach Trump re-elected to US HouseDavid Valadao wins California midterms race, only second member of lower chamber to survive voting to impeach president A Republican who voted to impeach Donald Trump in the House of Representatives has won re-election in California, making him only the second of the 10 to do so still in Congress.David Valadao was called the winner of his competitive race with Democrat Rudy Salas late on Monday, almost two weeks after election day.Republican Adam Kinzinger: election deniers won’t ‘go away organically’Read moreWith his party having already secured control of the House, albeit narrowly, his result was significant only for the survival of his political career after turning on the former president.Other than Dan Newhouse, who swept to victory in his Washington state race, none of the Republicans who voted for Trump’s impeachment last year will serve another term.Most prominent are the two Republican members of the January 6 committee investigating Trump’s failed efforts to remain in office after his 2020 defeat to Joe Biden: Liz Cheney, who was ousted in a primary battle for her Wyoming seat, and Adam Kinzinger, who chose not to seek re-election in Illinois.Of the others, Jaime Herrera Beutler (Washington), Peter Meijer (Michigan) and Tom Rice (South Carolina) were beaten in primaries earlier this year, and Fred Upton (Michigan), Anthony Gonzalez (Ohio) and John Katko (New York) opted for retirement.Valadao released a statement on Monday night thanking his campaign staff and acknowledging his opponent, but not mentioning Trump, or his vote for his impeachment.“I am once again humbled by the Central Valley’s support and faith in me,” the statement said.“I commend Rudy Salas for running a strong campaign and his service to our community in the state assembly.”Valadao’s margin of victory in California’s district 22, where he campaigned on issues including crime, inflation and healthcare, was more than 3%, according to the New York Times.His seat, to which he was first elected in 2012, and recaptured in 2020 after defeat two years earlier, had been a midterms target for Democrats.The Times said Republican political action committees, including the Congressional Leadership Fund aligned to the House minority leader, Kevin McCarthy, spent more than $11m in advertising for Valadao.Trump never significantly engaged in the race, the Associated Press reported, and Valadao, a dairy farmer and son of Portuguese immigrants, had the endorsement of the state party as well as the support of McCarthy, who is seeking to become speaker.Valadao criticized Trump while he was in office for separating migrant families at the US border, and said the former president was a driving force in the 6 January 2021 violence at the US Capitol.Trump’s “inciting rhetoric was un-American, abhorrent, and absolutely an impeachable offense”, Valadao has said.His re-election gives Republicans 219 House seats, one more than needed for control, with Democrats on 212 and only a handful of races remaining to be called.TopicsUS midterm elections 2022US politicsRepublicansUS Capitol attackDonald TrumpnewsReuse this content More

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    Jury deliberations begin in January 6 sedition trial of Oath Keepers founder

    Jury deliberations begin in January 6 sedition trial of Oath Keepers founderJurors will decide if his actions amount to seditious conspiracy, which carries significant jail time As angry supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the US Capitol, ready to smash through windows and beat police officers, Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes extolled them as patriots and harked back to the battle that kicked off the American revolutionary war.“Next comes our Lexington,” Rhodes told his fellow far-right extremists in a message on 6 January 2021. “It’s coming.”Jurors will begin weighing his words and actions on Tuesday, after nearly two months of testimony and argument in the criminal trial of Rhodes and four codefendants. Final defense arguments wrapped up late Monday.Oath Keepers called for ‘violent overthrow’ of US government, trial hearsRead moreHundreds of people have been convicted in the attack that left dozens of officers injured, sent lawmakers running for their lives and shook the foundations of American democracy. Now jurors in the case against Rhodes and four associates will decide, for the first time, whether the actions of any January 6 defendants amount to seditious conspiracy – a rarely used charge that carries both significant prison time and political weight.The jury’s verdict may well address the false notion that the 2020 presidential election was stolen, coming soon after 2022 midterm results in which voters rejected Trump’s chosen Republican candidates who supported his baseless claims of fraud. The outcome could also shape the future of the justice department’s massive and costly prosecution of the insurrection that some conservatives have sought to portray as politically motivated.Failure to secure a seditious conspiracy conviction could spell trouble for another high-profile trial beginning next month of former Proud Boys national chairman Enrique Tarrio and other leaders of that extremist group. The justice department’s January 6 probe has also expanded beyond those who attacked the Capitol to focus on others linked to Trump’s efforts to overturn the election.In the Oath Keepers trial, prosecutors built their case using dozens of encrypted messages sent in the weeks leading up to January 6. They show Rhodes rallying his followers to fight to defend Trump and warning they might need to “rise up in insurrection”.“We aren’t getting through this without a civil war. Prepare your mind, body and spirit,” he wrote shortly after the 2020 election.Three defendants, including Rhodes, took the witness stand to testify in their defense – a move generally seen by defense lawyers as a last-resort option because it tends to do more harm than good. On the witness stand, Rhodes, of Granbury, Texas, and his associates – Thomas Caldwell of Berryville, Virginia, and Jessica Watkins, of Woodstock, Ohio – sought to downplay their actions, but struggled when pressed by prosecutors to explain their violent messages.The others on trial are Kelly Meggs of Dunnellon, Florida, and Kenneth Harrelson of Titusville, Florida. Seditious conspiracy carries up to 20 years behind bars, and all five defendants also face other felony charges. They would be the first people convicted of seditious conspiracy at trial since the 1995 prosecution of Islamic militants who plotted to bomb New York City landmarks.The trial unfolding in Washington’s federal court – less than a mile from the Capitol – has provided a window into the ways in which Rhodes mobilized his group and later tried to reach Trump.‘We must defeat them’: new evidence details Oath Keepers’ ‘civil war’ timelineRead moreBut while authorities combed through thousands of messages sent by Rhodes and his codefendants, none specifically spelled out a plan to attack the Capitol itself. Defense attorneys emphasized that fact throughout the trial in arguing that Oath Keepers who did enter the Capitol were swept up in a spontaneous outpouring of election-fueled rage rather than acting as part of a plot.Jurors never heard from three other Oath Keepers who have pleaded guilty to seditious conspiracy.Over two days on the witness stand, a seemingly relaxed Rhodes told jurors there was no Capitol attack plan. He said he didn’t have anything to do with the guns some Oath Keepers had stashed at a Virginia hotel that prosecutors say served as the base for “quick reaction force” teams ready to ferry an arsenal of weapons across the Potomac River if necessary. The weapons were never deployed.Rhodes, a Yale Law School graduate and former Army paratrooper, said his followers were “stupid” for going inside. Rhodes, who was in a hotel room when he found out rioters were storming the Capitol, insisted that the Oath Keepers’ only mission for the day was to provide security for Trump ally Roger Stone and other figures at events before the riot.That message was repeated in court by others, including a man described as the Oath Keepers’ “operations leader” on January 6, who told jurors he never heard anyone discussing plans to attack the Capitol.A government witness – an Oath Keeper cooperating with prosecutors in hopes of a lighter sentence – testified that there was an “implicit” agreement to stop Congress’s certification, but the decision to enter the building was “spontaneous”.Prosecutors say the defense is only trying to muddy the waters in a clear-cut case. The Oath Keepers aren’t accused of entering into an agreement ahead of January 6 to storm the Capitol.Citing the civil war-era seditious conspiracy statute, prosecutors tried to prove the Oath Keepers conspired to forcibly oppose the authority of the federal government and block the execution of laws governing the transfer of presidential power. Prosecutors must show the defendants agreed to use force – not merely advocated it – to oppose the transfer of presidential power.TopicsUS newsUS politicsThe far rightUS Capitol attacknewsReuse this content More

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    Oath Keepers called for ‘violent overthrow’ of US government, trial hears

    Oath Keepers called for ‘violent overthrow’ of US government, trial hearsJurors hear closing arguments in seditious conspiracy trial of founder Stewart Rhodes and four associates of far-right group For weeks leading up to 6 January 2021, the Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and four associates of the far-right group discussed using violence to overturn the 2020 presidential election’s outcome, and when rioters started storming the US Capitol they saw an opportunity to do it, a federal prosecutor told jurors on Friday as the seditious conspiracy case wound toward a close.Prosecutor Kathryn Rakoczy said in her closing argument to jurors after nearly two months of testimony in the high-stakes case that Rhodes’s own words show he was preparing to lead a rebellion to keep Democrat Joe Biden out of the White House. Rhodes and his co-defendants repeatedly called for “violent overthrow” of the US government and sprang into action that day, she said.Seditious conspiracy is rarely proven. The Oath Keepers trial is a litmus testRead more“Our democracy is fragile,” Rakoczy said. “It cannot exist without the rule of law, and it will not survive if people dissatisfied with the results of an election can use force and violence to change the outcome.”The closing arguments began in Washington federal court after the final pieces of evidence were presented in the trial alleging Rhodes and his band of anti-government extremists plotted for weeks to interrupt the peaceful transfer of power from Republican Donald Trump to Biden.Rhodes’s attorney sought to downplay his violent rhetoric in the run-up to January 6, describing it as “venting” and insisting there was no agreement or conspiracy. Defense attorney James Lee Bright said Rhodes’s language was focused on persuading Trump to invoke the Insurrection Act over what he saw as a stolen election.Rhodes “wasn’t hiding his opinions, he wasn’t hiding any plans”, Bright told jurors. He was “as open as daylight with every plan on what he was asking President Trump to do”.Evidence presented by prosecutors shows Rhodes and his co-defendants discussing the prospect of violence and the need to keep Biden out of the White House in the weeks leading up to January 6, before stashing a cache of weapons referred to as a “quick reaction force” at a Virginia hotel across the Potomac River.On January 6, Oath Keepers wearing helmets and other battle gear were seen pushing through the pro-Trump mob there and into the Capitol. Rhodes remained outside, like “a general surveying his troops on a battlefield”, a prosecutor told jurors. After the attack, prosecutors said, Rhodes and other Oath Keepers celebrated with dinner at a local restaurant.Defense attorneys have spent weeks hammering prosecutors’ relative lack of evidence that the Oath Keepers had an explicit plan to attack the Capitol. Rhodes, who is from Texas, testified that he and his followers were only in Washington to provide security for rightwing figures including Roger Stone. Those Oath Keepers who did enter the Capitol went rogue and were “stupid”, he said.Rhodes testified that the mountain of writings and text messages showing him rallying his band of extremists to prepare for violence and discussing the prospect of a “bloody” civil war ahead of January 6 was only bombastic talk.The prosecutor sought to rebut suggestions that Rhodes’s rhetoric was simply bluster, telling jurors that his messages weren’t “ranting and raving” but were “deadly serious”.“The way they have appointed themselves to be above the law is why they are here today,” she said. “The sense of entitlement that led to frustration followed by rage and then violence – that is the story of this conspiracy.”Rhodes’s lawyer said his client was back at a hotel room eating chicken wings and watching TV when the first rioters started storming the Capitol. He noted that the Oath Keepers never deployed their “quick reaction force” arsenal.“You’re either the Keystone Cops of insurrectionists, or there is no insurrection,” he told jurors, referring to the inept police officers of silent movies.Two other defendants testified in the case. Jessica Watkins, of Woodstock, Ohio, echoed that her actions that day were “really stupid” but maintained she was not part of a plan and was “swept along” with the mob, which she likened to a crowd gathered at a store for a sale on the popular shopping day known as Black Friday.Defendant Thomas Caldwell, a navy veteran from Virginia, downplayed a chilling piece of evidence: messages he sent trying to get a boat to ferry weapons from Virginia across the Potomac into Washington. He testified that he was never serious about his queries, though he struggled to explain other messages referencing violence on January 6.Two other defendants, Kelly Meggs and Kenneth Harrelson, both from Florida, did not testify. Meggs’s attorney Stanley Woodward argued that there were thousands of people involved, and his client was not among the first people to enter the Capitol. Defense attorneys’ closing statements are expected to continue on Monday.The group is the first among hundreds of people arrested in the deadly Capitol riot to stand trial on seditious conspiracy, a rare civil war-era charge that calls for up to 20 years behind bars upon conviction. The justice department last secured such a conviction at trial nearly 30 years ago and intends to try two more groups on the charge later this year.TopicsUS Capitol attackUS politicsnewsReuse this content More

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    US attorney general names special counsel to weigh charges against Trump

    US attorney general names special counsel to weigh charges against Trump‘Extraordinary circumstances’ require appointment of Jack Smith to determine whether charges should be brought, Garland says01:39Merrick Garland, the US attorney general, has appointed a special counsel to determine whether Donald Trump, the former president, should face criminal charges stemming from investigations into his alleged mishandling of national security materials and his role in the January 6 attack on the US Capitol.The politically explosive move comes just three days after Trump announced he is running for the White House yet again, despite a disappointing Republican performance in the midterm elections, especially among candidates backed by the ex-president.US attorney general appoints special counsel in Trump DoJ investigations – liveRead more“Based on recent developments, including the former president’s announcement that he is a candidate for president in the next election, and the sitting president’s stated intention to be a candidate as well, I have concluded that it is in the public interest to appoint a special counsel,” Garland told a press conference on Friday.Garland named Jack Smith, a veteran prosecutor, to the post, which will deal with justice department investigations into Trump’s attempt to subvert the 2020 presidential election victory for Joe Biden, and also the discovery of confidential documents at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida.Trump attacked the appointment within hours, in an interview with Fox News’s digital arm.“For six years I have been going through this, and I am not going to go through it any more,” Trump said. “It is not acceptable. It is so unfair. It is so political.”The appointment of a special counsel reflects the sensitivity of the justice department overseeing the two most hazardous criminal investigations into Trump, and an increased possibility of charges being brought over either matter.Special counsels are semi-independent prosecutors who can be installed for high-profile investigations when there are conflicts of interest, or the appearance of such conflicts, and provide a mechanism for the justice department to insulate itself from political considerations in charging decisions.“I strongly believe that the normal processes of this department can handle all investigations with integrity,” Garland said. “And I also believe that appointing a special counsel at this time is the right thing to do. The extraordinary circumstances presented here demand it.”The attorney general added: “I will ensure that the special counsel receives the resources to conduct this work quickly and completely. Given the work done to date and Mr Smith’s prosecutorial experience, I am confident that this appointment will not slow the completion of these investigations.”Smith, a graduate of Harvard law school, from 2010 to 2015 served as the chief of the public integrity section at the justice department, which handles government corruption investigations, a role not dissimilar to his new position as special counsel.Since 2018, he has been a special prosecutor to The Hague investigating war crimes in Kosovo, having joined the international criminal court from the US attorney’s office for the eastern district of New York in Brooklyn, where he helped prosecute a police brutality case that drew national attention.During his time at the justice department in Washington, Smith oversaw the corruption cases against former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell, ex-Arizona congressman Rick Renzi and New York assembly speaker Sheldon Silver, though convictions against McDonnell and Silver were later overturned.He oversaw the prosecution of a CIA agent for disclosing national defense information and obstructing justice – crimes that echo potential charges against Trump.And Smith has also investigated Trump before, in the 1970s, over potential fraud charges during his tenure as a prosecutor in New York. The roughly six-month investigation ultimately yielded no charges, after which Trump complained about the investigation.Politico reported that Smith was registered to vote as a political independent, not a Democrat or a Republican.In a statement released by the justice department, Smith said: “I intend to conduct the assigned investigations, and any prosecutions that may result from them, independently and in the best traditions of the Department of Justice.“The pace of the investigations will not pause or flag under my watch. I will exercise independent judgment and will move the investigations forward expeditiously and thoroughly to whatever outcome the facts and the law dictate.”The appointment of a special counsel will be a familiar dynamic for Trump, who was the subject of Robert Mueller’s investigation shortly after he took office, examining ties between his 2016 presidential campaign and Russia. Later, Trump’s attorney general, Bill Barr, appointed special counsel John Durham to investigate allegations of FBI impropriety in the Russia investigation.Trump has already spent months since the FBI seized 103 documents marked classified from Mar-a-Lago accusing the justice department under Joe Biden of pursuing him for political reasons – a tension likely to become more biting as the 2024 election draws nearer.It was to allay those concerns, Garland said at the news conference, that he chose to appoint Smith to run the investigations. “Appointing a special counsel at this time is the right thing to do,” Garland said. “The extraordinary circumstances presented here demand it.”The appointment of a special counsel could indicate that the justice department has already accumulated substantial evidence of potential criminality by Trump and his allies. Barbara McQuade, a University of Michigan law school professor and former US attorney, said: “One thing that is significant is this suggests that they think there’s a very real possibility of charges. If they were going to close the case, it would be closed by now.”But some criticised the move as inadvertently buying Trump time and allowing an over-cautious Garland to duck responsibility. Jill Wine-Banks, a legal analyst and former Watergate prosecutor, tweeted: “Garland has named a Special Counsel to investigate Trump #MAL and parts of Jan6. I think it’s a waste of time and money, insults the prosecutors at DOJ and gains nothing. No Trump supporter will see anyone as independent or fair to Trump.”The Lincoln Project, an anti-Trump group, tweeted: “The announcement of a special counsel to investigate Trump in light of the abundance of clear and convincing evidence of his crimes unfortunately delays accountability. However, justice will come eventually & he will not be able to evade the consequences of his actions forever.”The White House press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, said Biden had not been given any advance notice of Garland’s announcement. “No, he was not aware, we were not aware,” she said at a delayed press briefing. “The department of justice makes decisions about criminal investigations independently. We are not involved.”Jean-Pierre added: “We were not given advance notice. We were not aware of this investigation.”TopicsDonald TrumpMerrick GarlandUS Capitol attacknewsReuse this content More

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    US attorney general appoints special counsel in Trump criminal investigation – video

    US attorney general Merrick Garland has named Jack Smith as special counsel who has the job of determining whether Donald Trump will face charges as part of any Department of Justice investigations. The politically explosive move comes just days after the former US president announced he was running for the White House again.

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    January 6 subcommittee to examine criminal referrals it might make to DoJ

    January 6 subcommittee to examine criminal referrals it might make to DoJFour-member panel focused on whether they have uncovered sufficient evidence that Trump violated civil and criminal statutes The House January 6 select committee has created a subcommittee to examine the scope of potential criminal referrals it might make to the justice department over the Capitol attack as well as what materials to share with federal prosecutors, its chairman and other members said on Thursday.The special subcommittee – led by Congressman Jamie Raskin, overseeing a four-person group that also involves Liz Cheney, Adam Schiff and Zoe Lofgren – has been chiefly focused on whether they have uncovered sufficient evidence that former US president Donald Trump violated civil and criminal statutes.The subcommittee has also been tasked with resolving several other outstanding issues, the panel’s chairman Bennie Thompson said. They include what materials to share with the justice department before the end of December, and its response to Trump and Republican lawmakers who have not complied with subpoenas.The question of whether and what referrals to make to the justice department has hovered over the investigation for months since the select committee’s lawyers came to believe that Trump was involved in a criminal conspiracy to defraud the United States and obstruct Congress over January 6.In March, the panel laid out its theory of a potential case against Trump, saying in a court filing that it had accumulated enough evidence to suggest that Trump and conservative attorney John Eastman could be charged with criminal and civil violations.The select committee then won a substantial victory when the US district court judge David Carter ruled that Trump “likely” committed multiple felonies in his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election and stop the congressional certification of Joe Biden’s election win.But some members on the panel in recent months have questioned the need for referrals to the justice department, which has ramped up its investigation into the Capitol attack and issued subpoenas to Trump’s allies demanding appearances before at least two grand juries in Washington.The debate, according to sources familiar with the matter, centered on whether making referrals might backfire if they are perceived to politically taint the criminal investigations hearing evidence about the fake electors scheme or the far-right groups that stormed the Capitol.In an effort to make final determinations on the referral question, Thompson said he asked the four members – all of whom have legal backgrounds and in the case of Schiff, have federal prosecutorial experience – to form the special subcommittee.The subcommittee is expected to make recommendations to Thompson around the start of December over what the referrals might look like, and advise on how to proceed with potential legal action against Trump and Republican lawmakers who defied the panel’s subpoenas, said a source familiar with the matter.Meanwhile Thompson said the committee will release its report on the Capitol attack next month.“Our goal is to get it completed soon so we can get it to the printer,” Thompson told reporters. “We plan to have our product out sometime in December.”TopicsJanuary 6 hearingsUS Capitol attackUS politicsDonald TrumpDemocratsnewsReuse this content More