Trump and the Assault on Capitol Hill: Above the Law?

José López Zamorano | La Red Hispana 
Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore (CC BY-SA 2.0)

As if nothing had happened in the capital of the United States, as if he were not in the dock of the public hearings of Congress for his actions and inactions during the attempted coup of January 6, former President Donald Trump returned to Washington so coolly.

After leaving the capital in disgrace at noon on January 20, 2021, when Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States, Trump reappeared on the political scene in Washington to participate in an event organized by some of his main aides at the White House.

If Trump tried to prevent his reappearance at the America First Policy Institute (AFPI) from being seen as formally launching his 2024 presidential candidacy, he most likely failed. He has told those closest to him that his decision has been made and that he is only deciding whether to announce his candidacy before or after the legislative elections in November.

But there are growing signs that the Justice Department is accelerating its investigations into the actions of Trump and some of his top aides and outside advisers during the dramatic day of January 6.

Steve Bannon, his chief electoral political strategist, was found guilty of contempt a few days before Trump’s visit. The police searched the home of Geoffrey Clark, one of the deputy attorneys general willing to do Trump’s dirty work of invalidating the election, and seized the phone of John Eastman, one of Trump’s lawyers and the author of a crazy legal theory to try to disqualify Biden’s victory.

Furthermore, former Vice President Mike Pence’s former Chief of Staff, Mark Short, and the former Vice President’s legal counsel, Greg Jacob, were subpoenaed to appear before a federal grand jury. And Virginia Democratic Rep. Elaine Luria, who led the eighth public hearing on the insurrection, said the congressional select investigative committee expects the Justice Department to conduct a criminal investigation against Trump, without waiting for the investigation’s findings.

During a recent hearing, Attorney General Merrick Garland said that no one is above the law. It is clear that many people in Washington had doubts about the prosecutor’s willingness to criminally persecute Trump and those close to him, especially since he issued a memorandum where he asked federal prosecutors to act with extreme caution before the imminence of the November elections.

But the growing accumulation of evidence that emerged during the investigative committee’s first eight hearings, and new court summonses to key figures, suggest that the justice department is accelerating its investigations.

This is an extremely important fact, because the seriousness of the events of January 6, the fact that the United States was on the verge of a constitutional and political crisis, if not a civil war, cannot go down in history without scrupulous accountability to make it clear that no one, not even a former president, is above the law.