So the January 6th Committee got Ivanka Trump to voluntarily testify the other day, and according to the committee members, her testimony was cooperative and useful. Now the committee has leaked to CNN today that it’s had Donald Trump Jr.’s incriminating text messages with Mark Meadows all along. That’s pretty cunning on the committee’s part. It’s why investigators benefit from being secretive about what they have up their sleeve.
The committee probably didn’t even ask Ivanka Trump about her brother’s text messages; that wasn’t the point of having her testify. She probably wouldn’t be willing to give up her brother at this stage, and she probably wouldn’t have first hand knowledge of what he was texting to Mark Meadows anyway.
But if Ivanka had known that the committee was sitting on Donald Trump Jr.’s incriminating text messages, would she have been willing to testify at all? For all anyone knows, she might have decided that it was too much of a risk, because she might have gotten asked about her brother’s texts. So the committee kept those texts a secret, until after it got the testimony it needed from Ivanka and Jared Kushner.
While we don’t know for certain how the committee got ahold of Donald Trump Jr.’s texts to Mark Meadows, the most likely source would be when Meadows briefly decided to cooperate and gave the committee everything he had, before changing his mind. If so, the committee kept these text messages secret for months, so that certain witnesses close to Trump Jr. would be more likely to end up voluntarily testifying.
This is why secrecy is so crucial in these probes, and it’s why the DOJ is being even more secretive about its January 6th probe than the January 6th Committee. Investigators can’t inform the public about the progress they’ve made, without tipping off witnesses and targets about it as well.
So why is the January 6th Committee now leaking that it had Donald Trump Jr.’s incriminating text messages? Apparently the committee has gotten all the testimony that it was afraid it wouldn’t get if it didn’t keep this a secret, and so now there’s no downside to putting it out there.
What’s the upside to putting it out there now? For one thing, it gets Trump Jr., who is increasingly known for (ahem) panicky behavior, to panic even more. This could prompt him to release new unhinged videos in which he unwittingly incriminates himself further. Whether he knows how bad this is for him or not, his legal team apparently does. It released a statement suggesting that Trump Jr. didn’t write the incriminating texts himself, and instead may have merely been forwarding them from someone else to Meadows. This the kind of argument you fall back on when you’re trying to mount a reasonable doubt defense because you expect your client to end up on criminal trial.
Also, keep in mind that if the January 6th Committee has had these Donald Trump Jr. text messages all this time, the DOJ has likely had them for awhile as well – and if it didn’t have them already, it will now. Keep this in mind as it becomes increasingly clear that the DOJ’s January 6th grand jury into Trump world appears to be targeting everyone.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report