The biggest news this week on the insurrection front comes not from the January 6 select committee, but from the Justice Department. Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco told CNN on Tuesday that the department is investigating the illegitimate slate of electors that falsely declared Trump the winner of the election in seven battleground states carried by Joe Biden. Looks like Merrick Garland’s DOJ, absorbing regular punches from liberals angry that it isn’t being aggressive enough on the protect-democracy beat, wants to prove it’s doing something.
“Our prosecutors are looking at those, and I can’t say anything more on ongoing investigations,” Monaco said. The fake electors had submitted documents to the National Archives on December 14, 2020, in some cases signed by top Republican officials in those states. (Concern over state governors submitting illegitimate slates of electors has led members of Congress to begin eyeing reform of the Electoral Count Act, which outlines the process by which Electoral College results are certified.)
Meanwhile, the committee had another busy week despite Congress being out of Washington. Right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones announced on his broadcast that he had been interviewed by the committee on Monday and had pleaded the Fifth Amendment nearly 100 times, although he said the questions were “overall pretty reasonable.” Intriguingly, Jones said that the committee appeared to have a hoard of information about him, including images of text messages with pro-Trump rally organizers. Ben Williamson, a top aide to former chief of staff Mark Meadows, also met with the committee on Tuesday, CNN reported.
In the courts, a federal judge put pressure on Trump lawyer John Eastman—the author of the notorious memo outlining how Trump might be installed in the White House, who was instrumental in crafting plans to overturn the election by legal means—to produce documents to the committee. Judge David Carter of the District Court for the Central District of California ordered Eastman to begin reviewing at least 1,500 pages per business day starting on Friday and immediately transfer any unprivileged documents to the committee. He also outlined a process by which congressional investigators could challenge any of Eastman’s privilege claims.
Elsewhere in the country, in a major development, superior court judges in Fulton County, Georgia, on Monday agreed to a request by District Attorney Fani Willis for a special grand jury in Willis’s investigation into Trump’s efforts to overturn the state’s election results. The special grand jury will be empaneled on May 2 and continue for a period “not exceeding 12 months,” Chief Judge Christopher S. Brasher wrote. It’s a rare move in the state of Georgia—and it seems to give Willis a lot of time to build what most experts think is potentially the strongest case against Trump of all those pending.
Finally, remember Sebastian Gorka? A Trump White House adviser for about 3.5 minutes in 2017, he never left the Trump orbit. Last December, the committee subpoenaed his phone records. He turned around and sued, but his efforts got off to a rocky start. As Politico’s Kyle Cheney reported, he first posted his personal phone number on the docket and had to rescind it. He then told D.C. District Court Judge Randolph Daniel Moss that he had been able to serve all parties, so Moss scheduled a Friday hearing. He then realized he hadn’t served the Justice Department or Garland, so he moved to correct the record and postpone the hearing. But Moss denied this request, so the Friday hearing is moving forward.
When asked about the committee’s progress this week, Representative Jamie Raskin, a leading committee member, was bullish. “The pro-insurrectionist party continues to lose all the legal battles because there’s no exception for seditionists from the rule that we all owe our truthful testimony to the sovereign,” Raskin told The New Republic.
Here’s what may come next
The committee is likely poring over a large batch of documents submitted by the National Archives last week. Although the records have not yet been made public, they will likely factor into the investigation going forward. According to The New York Times, the documents include presidential activity calendars, a draft of the speech Trump gave at the Save America rally, various talking points about election fraud, and handwritten notes from Meadows.
Congress is returning to Washington next week, giving the committee plenty of opportunity to meet in person. There are also still several people who might be subpoenaed, such as members of the Trump family. It also remains to be seen whether the committee will attempt to take action to compel sitting members of Congress to appear before it.
What they did this week
Roger Stone was spending the week not answering questions from the January 6 committee. Instead, this past Saturday he was on Gab, one of those alternative right-wing social media sites, bashing fellow Trumpian icon Jason Miller. Business Insider believes this is the latest volley in a long-running dispute between the two. On Gab, Stone wrote: “You can always tell when Jason Miller of Gettr is lying—his lips are moving. In the 40 years I have been in American politics, I have never met a bigger more despicable piece of shit.”
The feud seems to go all the way back to the Mueller investigation. “I got him his job with Donald Trump in 2016. He rewarded me by perjuring himself in the grand jury Robert Mueller was using to target me. His time in the barrel will come,” Stone continued.
Best quote of the week on January 6
In an interview with MSNBC, Raskin shot back at Alex Jones for relentlessly invoking the Fifth Amendment. Here’s what he said:
“The thing that Mr. Jones and all of the defendants and all of the witnesses are forgetting is that the Fifth Amendment is meant to be used selectively if you think that you might be incriminating yourself by answering a question. It’s not a magic wand that you wave over the whole proceeding and you don’t have to answer anything.”