Jack Smith Now Expected To ‘Pull the Trigger’ and Charge Trump With January 6 Offenses, Attorney General Barr Says

General Barr defends the Mar-a-Lago documents indictment and predicts that the special counsel will also indict Trump for crimes related to the attack on the Capitol on January 6.

AP/J. Scott Applewhite, file
Attorney General Barr on Capitol Hill, April 9, 2019. AP/J. Scott Applewhite, file

While Special Counsel Jack Smith’s 37-count indictment relating to the trove of classified documents stored at Mar-a-Lago presents its own distinct legal peril to President Trump, it also appears to have brought into focus the stakes of another criminal investigation, this one with respect to the attack on the Capitol on January 6. 

That, at least, was the impression thrown off by comments that Attorney General Barr made over the weekend to CBS’s Robert Costa, where America’s former top law enforcement official mused that charges for January 6 “will be a hard case to make” but that he nevertheless “expects” Mr. Smith will “pull the trigger” on an indictment this summer.

Those comments came in an interview where Mr. Barr called his old boss a “fundamentally flawed person who engages in reckless conduct that leads to situations, calamitous situations, like this, which are very disruptive and hurt any political cause he’s associated with.” He also called Mr. Trump’s behavior “indefensible” and compared him to a “nine-year-old kid.”

Another alumnus of the Trump Administration, one-time chief of staff General John Kelly, recently opined that Mr. Trump is likely “scared shi*****” by Mr. Smith’s indictment, which levels charges that could result in decades in prison. 

Mr. Trump fired back on Truth Social that “John Kelly pretended to be a ‘tough guy,’ but was actually weak and ineffective, born with a VERY small ‘brain.’” He added that General Kelly was a “‘mummy’ who sat in his office and stared at the ceiling.”  

General Barr’s prediction of an indictment related to January 6 — Mr. Smith’s second purview is to investigate “whether any person or entity unlawfully interfered with”  the “transfer of power following the 2020 presidential election or the certification of the Electoral College vote” — suggests that Palm Beach could be the beginning, but not the end, of Mr. Trump’s federal legal travails.

The prediction of charges from General Barr carries added weight due his comments to the Associated Press in the days after the 2020 election that “to date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.” Mr. Barr would later tell NBC News that “I told him that all this stuff was bulls*** about election fraud.” Mr. Trump fired him before January 6.

General Barr’s bullishness on a January 6 indictment comes amidst a Washington Post report “more than a year would pass” from President Biden’s inauguration “before prosecutors and FBI agents jointly embarked on a formal probe of actions directed from the White House to try to steal the election. Even then, the FBI stopped short of identifying the former president as a focus of that investigation.”

Mr. Smith took over that probe last November, and by all accounts has been proceeding with dispatch, with Mr. Trump’s role front and center. A raft of convictions for “seditious conspiracy,” a Civil War-era charge that prosecutors brought to bear at the riot at the Capitol, indicates that juries are receptive to the notion that what happened on January 6 was something like an orchestrated effort. 

It will be up to Mr. Smith to build a case not just against Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, but potentially against Mr. Trump. While the lineaments of that case have not yet explicitly surfaced, recent activity before the January 6 grand jury suggests that the special counsel has his eyes trained not just on foot soldiers, but well-known figures. 

In recent weeks, both Speaker Gingrich and a former senior strategist and campaign manager for Mr. Trump, Stephen Bannon, have testified before that grand jury, in addition to a pair of Nevadans who acted as “alternative electors” in the wake of Mr. Trump’s defeat to President Biden. Vice President Pence has also testified to the grand jury.


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