Yesterday was a bad day for Jim Jordan, as the House January 6th Committee formally requested his cooperation in its probe – meaning he’ll swiftly be subpoenaed, and then eventually referred for criminal contempt, if he doesn’t voluntarily cooperate. This was also a bad week for Jordan’s fellow House Republican Scott Perry, who got a similar letter from the committee. But here’s the thing. While Jordan and Perry must be (and will be) held accountable for any criminal actions they committed in relation to the 2020 election, it’s becoming clear that this really isn’t about them. It’s about Donald Trump himself.
It’s right there in the text of the letters that the committee sent. The letter to Jordan spells out that the committee wants to ask him about the presidential pardons that he allegedly offered to January 6th organizers. The letter to Perry focuses on his alleged role in trying to help Trump install Jeffrey Clark as Acting Attorney General so that Clark could illegally use the DOJ to try to keep Trump in power.
The common thread here is, obviously, Donald Trump. Yes, if Jordan did offer presidential pardons to people in exchange for putting January 6th together, that’s a felony and he’ll go down for it. But such a pardon wouldn’t have been granted by Jordan; it would have been granted by Donald Trump. If it can be proven that Trump and Jordan conspired to offer such pardons, then Trump will go down on a felony count as well.
Similarly, if Perry did conspire to install Clark as Acting AG for the specific purpose of carrying out illegal activities, then Clark will go down for it. But you have to “conspire” with someone else – and it’s Trump who would ultimately have had to make the personnel moves required to put Clark into that role. In such case Trump would be criminally culpable in that plot as well.
The pattern we’re starting to see is that the January 6th Committee is not just targeting House members who committed potentially illegal acts. It’s targeting them over potentially illegal acts that they committed with Donald Trump. This has the effect of not just pursuing justice when it comes to these House members, but also attempting to use their alleged crimes to prove Trump’s alleged crimes – or even get them to flip on Donald Trump in an effort to save themselves.
Keep in mind that the committee wouldn’t be going after these House Republicans if it didn’t already have a treasure trove of evidence on them. That’s what the committee was doing these past months when it was working with hundreds of lower level cooperative witnesses.
Now the committee can go into this battle fully armed against these House Republicans. Since the committee already knows the basics of the story, it can use evidence it has on them to pressure them to cooperate. Or if they agree to testify but then try to lie their way through it, the committee can use its existing evidence to catch them lying and get them prosecuted for perjury. Or if they defy the inevitable subpoena, the committee can use its existing evidence to spell out why their testimony is so relevant that the DOJ should arrest a sitting member of Congress for contempt.
But the bottom line with all of this is that it all leads back to Donald Trump himself. We predict that as the committee targets additional House Republicans in the coming days, it’ll do so by focusing mainly on the specific actions that each House Republican took with Donald Trump. This probe has always been about exposing the full truth about Trump’s election crimes and insurrection crimes, and about bringing him to justice.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report