For the first time, Liz Cheney hinted at possibly charging Donald Trump with a crime on Monday night. Cheney’s remarks came after she read text messages sent to then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows on Jan. 6.
WATCH (relevant portion starts at 3:02):
While the majority of the mainstream media focused on the text messages, The Washington Post reported on Cheney’s subsequent comments. Comments that could upend the political universe if Democrats—and possibly a few Republicans—act on them:
In summing up the texts, Cheney (R-Wyo.) said, “Mr. Meadows’s testimony will bear on another key question before this committee: Did Donald Trump, through action or inaction, corruptly seek to obstruct or impede Congress’s official proceeding to count electoral votes?”
A Casual Observer Might Have Missed It
A casual observer might have missed it, but what Cheney was doing here was pointing to a specific criminal statute — a felony, 18 U.S. Code § 1512 — that she suggests President Donald Trump might have violated. And both its inclusion in her comments and the timing of it shouldn’t be lost on anyone. This was a Republican member of the committee floating a specific potential Trump crime that the committee apparently wants to drill down on; it also came shortly after a federal judge upheld the use of the statute in a key Jan. 6 case.
District Judge Dabney L. Friedrich agreed with the Justice Department last week that the accused Capitol rioters could be charged with violating the same statute by allegedly attempting to prevent the Electoral College vote count.
Cheney, on Tuesday morning at another hearing, cited the statute again — pretty much erasing any doubt about how deliberate this was.
Cheney’s comment matches the language of the statute. It states, “Whoever corruptly … obstructs, influences, or impedes any official proceeding, or attempts to do so, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.” That law defines an “official proceeding” as including “a proceeding before the Congress.”
Before Monday night, little indication existed that the Jan. 6 committee intended to attempt to charge Trump with a crime. While it’s still a long shot, supporters of the president shouldn’t take Cheney’s statements lightly.
So what do you think? Will the Jan. 6 committee eventually charge Trump? And do you worry that there’s a chance Liz Cheney will survive her GOP primary? Tell us in the comments below.