Former President Trump and his allies are facing a pile of troubles relating to the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection — and it’s growing higher.
On Thursday, March 31, morning, The New York Times reported that federal prosecutors are now examining “the possible involvement of other government officials” in Trump’s attempt to overturn the 2020 election.
The Times also said prosecutors are delving into the planning of rallies that took place before the riot itself.
The political impact of any single new development will likely be limited. Voters who remain loyal to Trump have done so through numerous scandals and controversies since he declared his candidacy for the White House almost seven years ago.
But if Trump has ambitions to recapture the White House, it hardly helps that he still stands in the long shadow cast by Jan. 6, the most serious assault on the Capitol since the War of 1812.
Thursday’s story was just the latest in a number of negative developments for Trump this week alone.
In a ruling issued Monday, a judge in California asserted that Trump and conservative lawyer John Eastman probably committed crimes in their efforts to reverse the election outcome.
The same evening, the House select committee investigating the insurrection voted to recommend that two former Trump aides, Peter Navarro and Dan Scavino, should be held in criminal contempt of Congress for their refusal to comply with subpoenas.
On Tuesday, a new report from Bob Woodward of The Washington Post and Robert Costa of CBS News asserted that Trump’s official phone logs from Jan. 6 had a gap of more than seven hours.
The Jan. 6-related controversies have even reached the Supreme Court, where Justice Clarence Thomas has come under fire following the revelation that his wife, conservative activist Ginni Thomas, had been texting then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows in the days after the election.
Thomas and Meadows exchanged at least 29 texts during the relevant period. In many of them, Ginni Thomas was encouraging Meadows to ensure Trump would not concede the election and hoping the projected result would be reversed.
She also used terms like “heist” to describe President Biden’s legitimate victory and adopted some of the slogans favored by the most conspiracy-minded of Trump’s supporters, such as “Release the Kraken!”
Roughly one year later, a battle between Trump and the Jan. 6 committee over access to the former president’s records reached the Supreme Court. Clarence Thomas was the only one of the nine justices to back Trump’s position.
“The facts in this case are almost hard to believe,” said Douglas Keith, counsel with the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University. “What you have is a sitting justice going out on a limb to shield White House communications that we now know likely included communications with his wife.”
Keith said that he “can’t imagine a clearer example” of an instance where a justice should recuse from a case.
A number of high-profile Democrats have said Thomas must recuse himself from any future Jan. 6-related cases. They include Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.), Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin (Ill.) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.).
Some progressives have gone even further, most notably Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), who tweeted that Thomas should resign or face impeachment.
Ocasio-Cortez added that the moment was “a tipping point” for the Supreme Court and warned that “a failure to act puts the imperiling of democracy squarely on our shoulders.”
Virtually no one thinks Thomas will resign. And Republicans, for their part, push back on the controversy.
Earlier this week, Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) told The Hill regarding Ginni Thomas, “She has her opinions. They don’t necessarily coincide in his opinions. There’s no indication that they have any influence on Justice Thomas at all.”
Barry Bennett, who worked as a senior adviser to Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, told this column, “If every member of Congress was held accountable for anything that their spouse had said or done, it would be a mess.”
Bennett also asserted that even the totality of the Jan. 6-related controversies — including the work of the House select committee — were unlikely to damage Trump’s political standing.
“I mean, write the report already!” Bennett said. “At this point, they aren’t going to persuade anybody. Everybody has an opinion — and if 300 witnesses aren’t enough, then what are you waiting for?”
Behind the scenes, even some Democrats and liberals acknowledge that the electoral impact of the Jan. 6 probe could be modest.
But they argue that the quest for the truth is vital in itself — and they point to the events of this week to make their case.
The Memo is a reported column by Niall Stanage. Additional reporting: Rebecca Beitsch and Emily Brooks.
This article originally appeared on TheHill