The Justice Department is circling its wagons around Donald Trump. The ex-President’s lawyers have been in talks with the DOJ as federal prosecutors’ investigation into the January 6 Capitol riot heats up. Centered on whether Trump’s communications with White House officials and first-hand witnesses are privileged conversations, the newly disclosed discussions are intensifying.
“In recent weeks, investigators have moved aggressively into Trump’s orbit, subpoenaing top former White House officials, focusing on efforts to overturn the 2020 election and executing searches of lawyers who sought to aid those efforts,” CNN reports.
Former White House counsel Pat Cipollone has already given testimony to the House Select Committee. Now, in what ABC News reported as a “dramatic escalation” in the Justice Department’s investigation, subpoenas have been issued for Cipollone and other senior White House officials — prompting federal prosecutors to prep for a legal battle over claims of executive and attorney-client privilege in its criminal probe.
Prior to the subpoenas, the DOJ had been under pressure from the public to do more, but in an exclusive interview with NBC’s Lester Holt, Attorney General Merrick Garland pushed back on criticism that his office wasn’t doing enough to hold Trump accountable, telling Holt that “We pursue justice without fear or favor.”
Garland didn’t rule out a Trump prosecution — even if the former President announces a 2024 run.
According to Raw Story, Trump is eyeing Mark Meadows to be the fall guy for his boss’ actions. In an interview on MSNBC‘s The ReidOut, former federal prosecutor Glenn Kirschner told host Joy Reid, that it can only happen if the Department of Justice “allows it to.”
“Mark Meadows can only become the fall guy if the Department of Justice lets him become the fall guy,” said Kirschner. “Should he be charged for his crimes, absolutely, but does that mean the Department of Justice should stop at Mark Meadows? Absolutely not. Donald Trump is the hub, of the hub and spoke conspiracy that I’ve been talking about, including on your show for a very long time. Donald Trump is the hub from which all of these criminal spokes radiated.”
The former chief of staff is a potential key witness in both the DOJ and House Select Committee investigations. Over 2,000 texts between Meadows and key figures who participated in the scheme to help Trump overturn the 2020 election results have been turned over to investigators — revealing just how central Meadows was in the coup plot.
Public testimony from his former senior aide, Cassidy Hutchinson, added fuel to the fire.
His knowledge and his actions leading up to the Capitol riot make him both valuable and dangerous. Former White House attorney Ty Cobb relayed the significance of Meadows’ predicament:
“The reason [Meadows] is valuable is also the reason he is in jeopardy: He was basically at Trump’s right hand throughout all these exercises and participated in key meetings and phone calls,” Cobb said.
Despite being told to cut contact with Meadows, Trump has spoken with him several times, CNN reported. Sources close to the situation say that while the relationship between the men is “not the same as it once was,” they have remained in touch.
Whether or not Trump tries to persuade Meadows to take the fall, Kirschner pointed out that the DOJ can put a stop to it, and, at the end of the day, there’s one person ultimately responsible – the ex-President.
The House Select Committee investigating January 6th has detailed accounts of alleged witness tampering by those associated with Trump world, seeking to intimidate witnesses and impede its probe. It’s another sign that the former President is worried about prosecution – as he should be.
Original reporting by Katelyn Polantz, Kara Scannell, Gabby Orr, and Kristen Holmes at CNN.
Follow Ty Ross on Twitter @cooltxchick