Ex-US archivist: Trump scared of ‘prison time’ over 6 January
A former US official archivist thinks Donald Trump is so desperate to stop the 6 January committee accessing records from his White House because he wants to avoid “prison time” as a result of any release.
Trump’s fight to keep the records secret is on its way to the supreme court, after repeated losses for the former president.
The House 6 January committee is preparing for televised hearings and in rounds of interviews on Sunday its Democratic chairman, Bennie Thompson, and senior Republican, Liz Cheney, said a criminal referral for Trump remains a possibility.
“Given how frantic [Trump’s lawyers] are… there are things in those records that are going to make real trouble. I’m talking about prison time,” John W Carlin told the Daily Beast. “It reinforces the fact that they know they’re in real trouble if these things are released – particularly if they’re released soon.”
Five people died around the attack on the US Capitol on 6 January, by supporters Trump told to “fight like hell” to overturn his election defeat by Joe Biden.
On Sunday, Cheney said the House select committee investigating 6 January now had “first-hand testimony” confirming Trump was in his private dining room at the White House watching TV as the riot unfolded.
Speaking to ABC’s This Week, Cheney said there were “potential criminal statutes at issue here, but I think that there’s absolutely no question that it was a dereliction of duty [by Trump in not trying to stop the attack]. And I think one of the things the committee needs to look at is … a legislative purpose, is whether we need enhanced penalties for that kind of dereliction of duty.”
Carlin was one of two former US archivists who spoke to the Beast about Trump’s fight to keep records pertinent to 6 January away from the House committee.
He said: “It’s important that records are used to get the truth out. Nothing highlights that more than the controversy we’re going through. Records are going to have a huge impact in determining who did what, particularly as you get to the justice department.”
What with this being the week of the first anniversary of the US Capitol attack, a lot of US news organisations are out with polls on the state of US democracy.
At the weekend, we had more than a third of Americans telling the Washington Post violence against government was sometimes justified; CBS finding that just over two thirds think US democracy is threatened; and ABC finding that a little more than half of Republicans thought the 6 January rioters were trying to protect democracy.
This morning NPR has joined the rush, working with Ipsos to find that just under two-thirds of Americans, 64%, believe US democracy is “in crisis and at risk of failing”.
They have a point: two-thirds of Republican respondents told NPR they agreed “with the verifiably false claim that ‘voter fraud helped Joe Biden win the 2020 election”, and fewer than half such Americans said they accepted the election result.
Mallory Newall, a vice-president at Ipsos, told NPR: “There is really a sort of dual reality through which partisans are approaching not only what happened a year ago on 6 January, but also generally with our presidential election and our democracy.
“It is Republicans that are driving this belief that there was major fraudulent voting, and it changed the results in the election,” Newall said.
Here’s some further – and alarming – reading, from Richard Luscombe:
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