ANALYSIS: Trump Sues Jan. 6 Committee as Legal, Political Walls Close In
After a surprisingly poor midterms showing for the GOP, the former president plans to announce his reelection campaign
- Published In: Politics
- Last Updated: Nov 14, 2022
Former President Donald Trump faces increasing legal and political pressure after his hand-picked candidates struggled in Tuesday's elections. (Photo by the Associated Press)
By Jacob Gardenswartz
Special to the Wyoming Truth
WASHINGTON — For former President Donald Trump, the results of Wyoming’s midterm elections stand as a rare triumph during an otherwise dismal showing.
Harriet Hageman, the Trump endorsed Republican who trounced Rep. Liz Cheney in the August primaries, was officially elected Wyoming’s next member of the U.S. House. Chuck Gray, a state representative who has echoed Trump’s unfounded claims of election fraud in 2020, was elected secretary of state after running unopposed, placing him in charge of local election procedures.
But in battleground states throughout the country, Trump-endorsed candidates up and down the ballot who promoted voter fraud conspiracies lost their races, handing President Joe Biden and Democrats the most successful midterm results for a Democratic president in modern American history.
Over the weekend, Democratic Nevada Sen. Catherine Cortez-Masto prevailed over Trump-endorsed Adam Laxalt in a tight race, ensuring that control of the U.S. Senate would remain in Democrats’ hands for the next two years. Trump was ensconced at his golf club in South Florida for the wedding of his youngest daughter, Tiffany, when the race was called.
Meanwhile, Trump has sued the select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection, seeking to avoid complying with their subpoena for his documents and testimony related to the Capitol attacks. In the 41-page complaint, Trump’s lawyers contend that former presidents cannot be compelled to testify before Congress, and lambast the panel as partisan and illegitimate.
All the while, Trump has vacillated between blame and bravado, simultaneously boasting of alleged victories in uncalled races while shifting responsibility for failed candidates onto others.
“So sad to see Republicans attack and foolishly tarnish the results of the Midterms. WE WON,” Trump wrote on his social media platform, Truth Social, on Thursday evening.
Three days later, Trump wrote, “It’s [Republican Senate Minority Leader] Mitch McConnell’s fault… He blew the midterms.”
Now, Republicans once loyal to Trump have begun to signal an eagerness to move on from him, with many blaming the GOP losses on his hand-picked candidates and election fraud rhetoric.
“We’re not a cult. We’re not like, OK, there’s one person who leads our party,” Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “If we have a sitting president, she or he will be the leader of our party.”
Undeterred, Trump has pressed on with plans to announce his 2024 presidential bid.
“President Trump is going to announce on Tuesday that he’s running for president,” longtime advisor Jason Miller said Friday.
Trump’s lawsuit and campaign announcement are likely to help him avoid Congressional testimony
After receiving the subpoena from the Jan. 6 select committee, Trump’s legal team initially signaled a willingness to engage on the matter, participating in a back-and-forth over the timing and specificity of the requests, new legal documents show.
In a statement on Nov. 4, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), the committee chairman, and Cheney, the vice chair, announced that they had extended the deadline for Trump to begin producing documents by 10 days, to Nov. 14.
Trump’s lawsuit makes it increasingly unlikely he will end up testifying. While former presidents have testified voluntarily before Congress in the past, no court has yet ruled on whether the legislative branch can compel a former president to share details of their time in office.
Such legal deliberations typically take months, if not years, by which point the committee will likely have been disbanded.
Meanwhile, Trump’s expected announcement of a presidential bid further complicates matters; nothing would materially change about the committee’s investigation into Trump or the many others probes operating concurrently, but experts note that his presidential run could help insulate Trump politically.
Many in Trump’s party hope he doesn’t run again, or, if he does, suggest he at least wait several months until announcing.
“They don’t want it, America doesn’t even want to hear about it,” said Gov. Chris Sununu (R-N.H.) in a Friday radio interview. Among Sununu’s biggest fears: that Trump would “muck up” the Georgia Senate run-off race between incumbent Democrat Sen. Raphael Warnock and Herschel Walker. Voters will choose Dec. 6 who holds that seat.
Trump, however, seems intent on sticking with his plans. Despite calls from conservative publications and even some former advisors urging him to hold off, political observers say Trump fears competition from GOP rivals, including Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, who’s strong election showing has bolstered calls on him to challenge Biden in 2024.
Big surprises in 2022 midterms
Among the biggest surprises in Tuesday’s election results was the widespread failure of candidates who supported unproven claims of election fraud, even amid historic disapproval of Biden’s time in office.
In Pennsylvania, Nevada, Arizona, New Hampshire, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin and New Mexico, Democratic candidates beat Republicans who had denied or questioned the results of the 2020 presidential election. While over 170 so-called election- denier candidates were elected to local or state offices, according to a Washington Post tally, each Trump-backed secretary of state hopeful who ran in areas considered battleground states lost their races.
“It was a victory for team normal,” Cheney said Friday at a University of Chicago event. “You saw many candidates who were reflecting the sort of election denialism of President Trump rejected… I think it was a really, really important and frankly hopeful outcome for democracy.”
Cheney herself also emerged somewhat vindicated Tuesday. Though Republican J.D. Vance beat out Cheney-endorsed Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan in the Ohio Senate race, Cheney’s candidates won in three of the other four races in which she endorsed; the Arizona governor’s race remains too close to call, though Democrat Katie Hobbs leads. Trump’s candidates, meanwhile, won five and lost seven races in contests considered toss-ups. Four additional races are still too close to call, plus the Georgia runoff in December.