Schiff: House Select Committee Has Evidence That Trump “Engaged in Likely Multiple Criminal Acts”

Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA) went on CNN’s “Don Lemon Tonight” to tout the work of the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6th riot. In that interview, Schiff declared that the Committee has enough evidence showing former President Donald Trump “engaged in likely multiple criminal acts.” While vague on the specific crimes, Schiff emphasized that the Justice Department did not have to wait any further to launch a criminal investigation based on what has already been disclosed. While the Committee has disclosed new evidence in the form of videotapes and testimony, it has not presented new material evidence of criminal acts in my view. That could still come but the first two hearings largely focused on a “conspiracy” to challenge the election certification and allegations that Trump knew that there was no compelling evidence of widespread election fraud.

If there is evidence of criminal conduct by former president Trump or others, most of us would support the calls for prosecution. It is also possible that the Justice Department is investigating such crimes or has undisclosed evidence. The hearings, however, have not established such a foundation. That can still come but these crimes have elements that have not been addressed in hearings that have lacked any opposing views or adversarial elements.

The decision of Speaker Nancy Pelosi to abandon the long tradition of bipartisan members on such selection committee has robbed the investigation of credibility and legitimacy for many Americans.

Indeed, Schiff’s reference to evidence held by the Committee is likely to bring up memories of his highly controversial public statements that the House Intelligence Committee, which he chairs, had direct evidence of Russian collusion despite the countervailing findings of Special Counsel Robert Mueller. He never produced the evidence and later it was revealed that Justice officials and FBI agents had told his Committee that they did not find such evidence.

Now, Schiff is maintaining that:

“I certainly believe there’s enough evidence for them to open an investigation of several people, and so did Judge David Carter of California believes the former president and others were engaged in likely multiple criminal acts. So if the Justice Department concurs with Judge Carter, let alone my own view or others, they should be pursuing that. So, yes, I think there is sufficient evidence to open an investigation. It would be of you up to the Justice Department ultimately to decide does that evidence rise to proof beyond a reasonable doubt such that they’re comfortable indicting someone. But there’s certainly, in my view, enough evidence to open up investigations.”

The reference to the Carter opinion has become a mainstay on cable news. I was critical of Judge Carter’s opinion when it was released. Much of the Jan. 6th hearings seem to be structured along the same lines as the Carter decision which was, in my view, strikingly conclusory and unsupported in critical parts of the analysis.

Judge Carter simply declares that Trump knew that the election was not stolen and thus “the illegality of the plan was obvious.” Putting aside the court’s assumption of what Trump secretly concluded on the election, a sizable number of Americans still do not view Biden as legitimately elected. The court is not simply saying that they are wrong in that view but, because they are wrong, legislative challenges amounted to criminal obstruction of Congress.

In 2005, it was Democrats who alleged that a presidential election was stolen and challenged the certification in Congress of the votes in Ohio. The claim was equally frivolous but Democratic leadership praised the effort, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi who praised Sen. Barbara Boxer’s challenge and insisted that “this debate is fundamental to our democracy.”

The Democrats did not, however, demand that Vice President Dick Cheney refuse to certify, an important distinction to be sure. Jan. 6th was a desecration of our constitutional process and one of the most disgraceful days in our history.

However, the lack of factual foundation for the challenge (cited repeatedly by Judge Carter in the Trump challenge) did not make this a criminal or fraudulent effort.

Some attorneys believed (and still believe) that it was possible for Pence to refuse to certify. Holding such a legal view is not a crime and sharing that view with the White House is not a conspiracy. Indeed, Eastman and others were publicly stating essentially the same thing. That is what triggered the debate with many of us challenging their interpretation.

Yet, Carter is conclusory and dismissive on this critical point in declaring “President Trump and Dr. Eastman justified the plan with allegations of election fraud — but President Trump likely knew the justification was baseless, and therefore that the entire plan was unlawful.” Trump is still insisting that he believes the opposite. The question is why arguing that point with Pence and others amounted to a criminal act. In the end, wiser minds prevailed and the theory was not used by Pence.

There were crimes that day, of course. Some of those at the rally rioted and were charged largely with trespass and unlawful entry. A handful have been charged with seditious conspiracy. The court does not cite any evidence that Trump directly advocated violence while noting that Trump told the crowd to peacefully go to the Hill.

Consider the implications of Carter’s opinion. There was rioting when President Trump was elected while various Democratic leaders continued to claim that he was not the legitimately elected president, a view echoed by Hillary Clinton. While they did not riot in Congress, they committed other crimes.

Under Carter’s theory, the baseless claims that Trump was not legitimately elected could have been used by the Trump Administration to seize confidential legal material given to the 2005 leaders. After all, there was not a solid factual basis for these claims and they knew it. They further fueled the mob by making these claims in public.

The January 6th Committee spent much of the first two days hammering away at how many people, including Attorney General Bill Barr, told Trump that the fraud allegations were unfounded. That is important evidence to made part of the public record. However, we knew that such statements were made to President Trump, who continues to refuse to accept the overwhelming judgment of lawyers inside and outside of the White House.

That evidence amplifies the view that there was not a basis for these allegations. However, most of us reached that conclusion two years ago. The question is whether there is new evidence of criminal acts.  After the riot, District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine announced that he was considering arresting Trump, Donald Trump Jr., Rudy Giuliani and U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks and charging them with incitement. So what happened to that prosecution?

The failure of Racine to charge Trump was not due to any affection or loyalty to the former president. It was due to the paucity of direct evidence of a crime that would hold up in court.

The reason is that the speech itself was not a crime. Indeed, it was protected free speech. They knew that a court would throw out such an indictment and, even if they could find a willing judge, any conviction would be thrown out on appeal.

In Brandenburg v. Ohio, the Supreme Court ruled in 1969 that even calling for violence is protected under the First Amendment unless there is a threat of “imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.”

Schiff is suggesting that, if the Committee can prove that Trump really, really, really knew the election was lost, his reckless push against election certification would somehow become a crime. That is not, in my view, correct. We need to see direct evidence that Trump coordinated, facilitated, or materially supported the violence of Jan. 6th. Yet, on the opening day, the Democrats were again playing the same clip of Trump telling the Proud Boys to stand down in the presidential debate. That type of implied encouragement would fail as evidence in a criminal case.

Schiff also told Lemon:

“Our mission is to expose the facts to the public light about a plot to overturn a presidential election, the first non-peaceful transfer of power we’ve had in our history, and prescribe remedies, legislative remedies to protect our country going forward. The principal mission of the Justice Department is to bring people to justice who break the law. We can make a referral, but of course, the Justice Department doesn’t sit around waiting for referrals from us, at least, they haven’t in the past. I hope they’re not simply waiting for us now. It’s their duty to follow the evidence and, if there are credible allegations of crime, to pursue them against anyone, including former presidents.”

The question (not asked) is what new material evidence has been raised. Much of the new evidence reinforced the same (and widely accepted) claim that Trump was ignoring the advice of his own counsel and refusing to accept the weight of the evidence on the election fraud claims.

The Democrats have also suggested that there may have been fraud in collecting millions in contributions to challenge the election. Yet, in making the fraud allegation, the Democrats did not quote the specific language used by various groups in raising money. These pitches often come with reservations or conditional language from legal counsel that allow a broad use of such funds. Indeed, Democratic members have been accused of using such funds for personal benefits. This is a common issue with members of both parties, but their counsel often cited the general language used with donors in seeking contributions. None of those provisions were quoted by the House Committee despite the fact that the Democrats were aggregating multiple charities with different pitches to donors.

If there was fraud, it should be prosecuted. However, again, the Committee needs to do more than throw out the allegation of fraud without addressing the specific elements needed for the crime, including what language was specifically used by these different groups in collecting funds.

Schiff’s pitch on CNN for prosecution is reminiscent of the nightly claims made by legal experts of clear evidence of criminal collusion or other crimes that would soon be used to frog march Trump and his family to prison. There were breathless accounts of crimes ranging from treason to bribery to obstruction to espionage. It is easy to make such claims on a cable show. However, if Schiff believes that the Committee has evidence of “likely multiple” federal crimes, he should be able to lay out the evidence in these hearings. The hearings will resume on Thursday and that case is still be made.

342 thoughts on “Schiff: House Select Committee Has Evidence That Trump “Engaged in Likely Multiple Criminal Acts””

  1. Adam Schiff–I believe, I think, in my view–He is very careful in word usage. It is so sad that he has so much hate, which is driving him crazy.

  2. I knew Adam Schiff looked familiar. He was the leading protagonist in this excellent Indian soap

  3. Schiff obviously does not know what the word “evidence” means. He also does not know how to tell the truth.

  4. H can’t he didn’t, he won’t and it don’t!.IT hasn’t, it isn’t, it even ain’t. And it shouldn’t. It couldn’t!”

    Ain’t this boogie a mess

  5. Today’s J6 Committee testimony and evidence — about Trump’s and Eastman’s attempt to get Pence to act unconstitutionally — are really significant.

    I encourage everyone to watch:

      1. According to you, which person(s) who spoke at today’s hearing were “acting”? Pence’s lawyer? Ivanka? Judge Luttig? Rep. Aguilar? … (Heads up: if you’re going to complain about Schiff, he didn’t speak.)

    1. Conservative law prof Orin Kerr:
      “If you told me a few years ago that I’d be watching a CSPAN discussion on constitutional law with Michael Luttig, Greg Jacob, and John Wood, I would have guessed it was a @FedSoc panel (but wondered why did they didn’t invite someone from the liberal side).”

    2. Eastman in an email to Giuliani, shown in the hearing: “Third, I’ve decided that I should be on the pardon list, if that is still in the works.” “Fourth, I’m working up an invoice and will get it to you as soon as I’m able to” (did we know that Giuliani was paying Eastman, or was Giuliani just a go between with Trump paying the bill?).

    3. Here’s the opening statement from conservative appellate judge Michael Luttig (appointed to the 4th Circuit by GHW Bush, now retired):
      In one of the presidential debates, Ted Cruz said the following about Luttig and the Supreme Court: “I would not have nominated [Justice Roberts]. I would have nominated my former boss Mike Luttig, who was Justice Scalia’s first law clerk.”
      Trumpists will likely denigrate him, but he is a highly regarded conservative legal scholar.

      His closing words:
      “I was honored on January 6th, 2021 — then also honored beyond words — to have been able to come to the aid of Vice President Mike Pence. I prayed that day just like the Vice President prayed that day. I believe we may have prayed the same prayer to the same God. I prayed that same prayer with my wife this morning before I came into these hearings. I have written — as you said, Chairman Thompson — that today, almost two years after that fateful day in January of 2021, that still Donald Trump and his allies and supporters are a clear and present danger to American democracy. That’s not because of what happened on January 6th. It’s because to this very day, the former President, his allies, and supporters pledge that in the presidential election of 2024, if the former President or his anointed successor as the Republican party presidential candidate were to lose that election, that they would attempt to overturn that 2024 election in the same way that they attempted to overturn the 2020 election, but succeed in 2024 where they failed in 2020. I don’t speak those words lightly. I would have never spoken those words ever in my life, except that that’s what the former President and his allies are telling us, as I said in that New York Times op-ed [] wherein I was speaking about the Electoral Count Act of 1887. The former President and his allies are executing that blueprint for 2024 in open and plain view of the American public. I repeat, I would’ve never uttered one single one of those words unless the former President and his allies were candidly and proudly speaking those exact words to America. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to appear here today for these proceedings.”

    4. On his social media platform, Trump said “I demand equal time!!!”

      I’m sure that the J6 Committee will make time for Trump to testify, if Trump is willing.

  6. (OT — sort of)

    “Warnock is going to lose and lose badly.”

    Speaking of which:

    Mayra Flores just flipped to Red a U.S. House seat in Texas that was Blue for some 150 Years.

    Let the slaughter begin.

    1. It’s not at all clear that “Warnock is going to lose and lose badly.”

      Earlier this week, we learned that Walker fathered a 10 y.o. son that he doesn’t see — a son who has never met his half-brother, Walker’s 22 y.o. son, Christian.

      Today, we learn that Walker also has a 13 y.o. son with a third woman and an adult daughter (with a fourth woman?). Apparently he started the relationship with the 10 y.o.’s mother 3 months before the 13 y.o. was born. Do these kids know their half-siblings? Does he care for them like a father, as he does with his son Christian?

      Walker has said things like the following:
      To Diamond and Silk in 2020: If you have “a child with a woman, even if you have to leave that woman… you don’t leave the child.”
      To Charlie Kirk the next month: “the fatherless home is a major, major problem.”
      He sounds like a hypocrite criticizing absentee fathers while being an absentee father to his 10 y.o. (and it’s unclear whether he was or not with his 13y.o. and his daughter).

      Walker has also been accused by more than one woman of violent threats. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
      “A Texas woman [Myka Dean] told police in 2012 that when she tried to end what she said was a long romantic relationship with Republican U.S. Senate candidate Herschel Walker he threatened to “blow her head off” and then kill himself. … Dean is the second woman who was involved romantically with Walker to accuse him of making violent threats. His ex-wife, Cindy Grossman, has also said he threatened her life, and a recent Associated Press report unearthed documents that show a judge granted Grossman a protective order in 2005 after outlining his alleged threats to shoot her in the head.” He denies threatening either woman.

      Warnock has also been accused of violence, which he denies. The AJC reports that his ex-wife “Ndoye told Atlanta police officers that he ran over her foot with his car during a heated argument outside her townhouse, and she described him as a “great actor” after he denied her claims. Warnock wasn’t charged with a crime, and medical officials didn’t find visible signs of injury to the foot. Warnock told the AJC in March 2020 that Ndoye’s allegations ‘didn’t happen.’”

      We’ll find out in November whether Warnock will lose or will instead be reelected to serve a full term.

      1. Have you got police reports and investigations? Or just Blassie Ford, accusations that can never be examined?

          1. In Georgia they refer to that rag as the Atlanta Urinal and Constipation.

      2. re: Warnock. Dems so power mad they will sweep any behavior under the carpet to get any person loyal to them (qualified or not) in office. Despicable. They don’t care about this man’s integrity. All of this was likely known before he even ran for office. Once you stop respecting a law, you eventually stop respecting them all.

        1. Bob,

          Seems to me that the violent threat allegations about Walker are worse than the ones about Warnock. Those things were known before Walker ran for office too.
          Are you equally concerned about Walker’s “integrity”?

          And unlike allegations, it’s an admitted fact that Walker has had several kids out of wedlock with different women, and with at least one of those kids, Walker has no contact with him / isn’t parenting him. There’s no suggestion of that for Warnock.

  7. Democrats spend 2+ years repeating the lie Trump “colluded” with Putin’s Russia to steal the 2026 election from Hillary Clnton – they know it wasn’t true. Democrats impeached Donald Trump knowing very well his call to the Ukrainian president was completely lawful. Democrats already impeached President Trump over the January 6 demonstrations, the has been investigating Janaury 6 for one and half years with over 800 prosecutions. Shiff cannot be trusted, Pelosi cannot be trusted, Kinzinger cannot be trusted, Liz Cheney cannot be trusted.

    1. Trump literally asked Russia to help him in the campaign by committing a crime on his behalf. Nothing would convince you to condemn him. He was right that he could murder someone and his supporters would excuse him.

      1. Hillary literally put her vulva on the table in Moscow and the Russians ran away screaming. Nothing anyone could possibly say to convince you she is several rungs below road kill but then again your ilk like dead beaver

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