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January 6 Committee Recap: Concerns About Trump’s Records Can’t Be Flushed Away

Trump could be in legal trouble for potentially violating federal laws related to the handling of government records.

Trump holds paper deal with Mexico
Trump claimed that this piece of paper was a deal he struck with Mexico in 2019.

Here’s what happened this week

It was another big week in developments related to the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol. Rudy Giuliani, former President Donald Trump’s lawyer and a frequent main character of these updates, reportedly asked a Republican prosecutor in northern Michigan to turn over his county’s voting machines to the Trump team. According to The Washington Post, Giuliani and other members of Trump’s legal team asked Antrim County prosecutor James Rossiter for the machines after the county initially misreported its election results in favor of Joe Biden. Rossiter told Giuliani that voting machines could not simply be seized and delivered without probable cause, a term that Giuliani, himself a former prosecutor, should have been familiar with. (Giuliani failed to appear before the House select committee on January 6 in a required deposition this week.)

Meanwhile, the National Archives asked the Justice Department to investigate Trump’s handling of presidential records, the Post reported, amid revelations that some records had to be recovered from the former president’s residence in Mar-a-Lago and that Trump had torn up other records. Adding to the pile-on of news related to the former president’s records, The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman reported in her upcoming book that White House residence staff occasionally found toilets clogged with wads of paper—and that they believed Trump had flushed pieces of paper. (This may add some context to Trump’s claims during campaign rallies that toilets were no longer working properly.) These reports raise questions about whether Trump violated federal laws dictating how government records should be handled.

As to the substance of the records: CNN reported on Monday that records obtained by the select committee provide new details about a call between Trump and Representative Jim Jordan on the morning of the attack. The Times also reported on Thursday that the committee had discovered gaps in the official White House telephone logs from January 6 during the critical hours when Trump was making calls.

The committee on Wednesday subpoenaed yet another person in Trump’s orbit, former White House official Peter Navarro. In his memoir, Navarro claimed to have concocted a plan with former Trump adviser Steve Bannon to delay certification of the Electoral College results.

“​Mr. Navarro appears to have information directly relevant to the Select Committee’s investigation into the causes of the January 6th attack on the Capitol. He hasn’t been shy about his role in efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election and has even discussed the former President’s support for those plans,” Committee Chair Bennie Thompson said in a statement announcing the subpoena. But Navarro may not comply with the subpoena; he said in a statement to ABC News that appearing before the committee would violate Trump’s invocation of executive privilege.

Navarro’s plan, known as the “Green Bay Sweep,” was predicated on former Vice President Mike Pence sending disputed election results back to the states. However, this plot was interrupted by the riot and by Pence’s decision to certify the election results over Trump’s wishes.

Here’s what may come next

Here’s a preview of what those upcoming public committee hearings will be like. Representative Liz Cheney yesterday in The Wall Street Journal offered a taste of what the committee will establish during those hearings—that no foreign adversary had a hand in upending the 2020 election. She wrote in an op-ed: “​​As the Select Committee will demonstrate in hearings later this year, no foreign power corrupted America’s voting machines, and no massive secret fraud changed the election outcome.”

What they did this week

Representative Jim Jordan is still declining the committee’s invitation to sit down and answer questions. But he is spreading misinformation based on a debunked story started in right-wing media that the Biden administration would hand out crack pipes (it will not) as part of a health grant.

Best quote of the week on January 6

“I said, ‘I can’t just say: Give them here.’ We don’t have that magical power to just demand things as prosecutors. You need probable cause.”—Antrim County prosecutor James Rossiter, on why he declined to hand over voting machines to Rudy Giuliani.