- Bad news for Trump and his associates as a key Democrat confirms that the DOJ requested the Jan. 6 transcripts.
- A federal grand jury also dismissed other charges against the former chairman of Trump’s inaugural committee in 2017.
- And the DOJ has filed a civil lawsuit against casino magnate and informal Trump adviser Steve Wynn.
From New York to Washington, DC, associates of former President Donald Trump were surely feeling new warmth from the Justice Department on Tuesday.
In Brooklyn, a federal grand jury returned additional charges against Thomas Barrack, the former chairman of Trump’s inaugural committee, who prosecutors initially accused last year of secretly lobbying for the United Arab Emirates.
Meanwhile, in the nation’s capital, the Justice Department has filed a civil lawsuit against casino mogul and informal Trump adviser Steve Wynn, arguing he should register as a foreign agent under of his past efforts to gain diplomatic favor for China.
And then came a revelation with a wider ripple effect: Rep. Bennie Thompson, the chairman of the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, confirmed the New York report. Times that the Justice Department has requested transcripts of interviews the congressional panel has been conducting for months.
The Justice Department’s request marked the clearest signal yet of the scope of its growing investigation into the Capitol attack. More than a year after the insurgency, authorities have arrested more than 800 people in connection with Jan. 6, most accused of entering the Capitol grounds with the pro-Trump crowd that day.
But the request for transcripts — combined with the review of funding for the Trump rally that immediately preceded the attack on Capitol Hill — signaled that the Justice Department was forcing its way into the inner circles of the former’s orbit. President.
Norm Eisen, who served as House Democrats’ counsel during Trump’s first impeachment in late 2019 and early 2020, described the series of recent developments as “flashing neon arrows pointing at Trump.”
“I have long held the view that the DOJ was beginning to direct its investigation towards the senior officials involved on January 6, including Donald Trump. So the fact that the DOJ is now seeking these transcripts is really a further indication of the legal peril, Eisen, a former Obama White House ethics officer now at the Brookings Institution, told Insider.
“What the request for this transcript shows is that they are doing a full review,” he added. “When you put it with the other indicators, it’s really bad news for the former president.”
Even as it upheld the DOJ’s request, Thompson said Tuesday the House panel would not hand over its “working product” but may allow Justice Department officials to review the transcripts at the committee’s offices. .
“I understand they want access to our work product. And we told them, no, we’re not giving it to anyone,” Thompson told reporters.
Earlier on Tuesday, federal prosecutors alleged in a superseding indictment that Barrack, Trump’s billionaire fundraiser, sought investments from two UAE sovereign wealth funds while he illegally lobbied the UAE. Trump administration.
In 2017, Barrack’s investment firm received capital commitments totaling $374 million from the two UAE funds, according to the superseding indictment filed in the U.S. District Court for the District Eastern New York.
Barrack pleaded not guilty to his first indictment last year, and is expected to stand trial later this year.
“Of course, it’s not just Barrack who will be judged. It’s the practices of the Trump years, with Trump cronies trading on their closeness and access to the president and those around him,” Eisen told Insider. . “Barrack was just following the model of monetizing the presidency that Trump established. »
At the end of the day, another member of the Trump orbit was also facing new allegations of using White House access to pressure foreign powers.
In a civil lawsuit, the Justice Department argued that Wynn, the former CEO of Wynn Resorts, should register as a lobbyist as part of his effort to persuade US officials to deport a man from Chinese businessman in New York, Guo Wengui, to China, where authorities consider him a fugitive.
The lawsuit seeks to force Wynn to identify himself as a lobbyist under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA, a decades-old law requiring disclosure of the political activities of foreign powers. According to the lawsuit, Wynn appealed directly to Trump over dinner and over the phone in the summer of 2017 and had multiple discussions with the former president and White House officials, motivated by a desire to protect his business interests in Macau.
“When a foreign government uses an American as an agent to influence policy decisions in the United States, FARA gives the American people the right to know,” said Matthew Olsen, Senate confirmed head of the National Security Division. of the Ministry of Justice.
Announcing the lawsuit, Olson said it was the first affirmative civil lawsuit filed under FARA in more than three decades. The lawsuit underscored the Justice Department’s enhanced law enforcement, which went largely unenforced for decades until Special Counsel Robert Mueller III brought it back to the fore with high-profile lawsuits against the former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and others in Trump’s orbit.