Guest Column: A tale of two investigations

The Daily Ardmoreite
Tony Choat

How the public views the results of two investigations currently underway will play a significant role in the future of democracy in America.

First, is the investigation into the January 6 attempt to overturn the results of the presidential election, which the former president continues to oppose by any means available.

To this date, Republican leadership continues to condone attempts by the former president to sabotage the investigation into attempts to overturn the election as nevertheless, members of the January 6 Select Committee investigating the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol recently issued several subpoenas seeking records and testimony.

One person of interest is Jeffrey Clark, a former Department of Justice lawyer named in a recently released Senate report as a crucial player in the former president’s attempts to overturn the election. Clark attempted to use Department of Justice resources to advance false claims of election fraud.

According to the report, Trump directly asked the DOJ nine times to undermine the election results.

“The Select Committee needs to understand all the details about efforts inside the previous administration to delay the certification of the 2020 election and amplify misinformation about the election results,” committee Chairman Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.) said in a statement. “We need to understand Mr. Clark’s role in these efforts at the Justice Department and learn who was involved across the administration. The Select Committee expects Mr. Clark to cooperate fully with our investigation.”

Investigators are also seeking information from former Trump administration officials Stephen Bannon, Mark Meadows, Dan Scavino and Kashyap Patel.

Bannon has declined to comply with a subpoena, citing executive privilege, even though he was not part of the administration during the time in question. The committee is moving forward with charges of contempt.

“Mr. Bannon has declined to cooperate with the Select Committee and is instead hiding behind the former President’s insufficient, blanket, and vague statements regarding privileges he has purported to invoke. We reject his position entirely,” Chairman Thompson said in a statement. “The Select Committee will not tolerate defiance of our subpoenas, so we must move forward with proceedings to refer Mr. Bannon for criminal contempt.”

While there is resistance to the investigation, some witnesses, including Jeffrey Rosen, who served as acting attorney general under Trump, have been cooperating with the committee.

Committee member and Illinois Republican Representative Adam Kinzinger said he expects the committee to get what is needed for the investigation.

At the other end of the spectrum are the ongoing investigations into the remote possibility that fraud may have played a role in the 2020 presidential election.

While those seemingly endless investigations have found no evidence of significant fraud or error, the former president released a statement encouraging the investigations to continue earlier this week. In the official statement, Trump continued his threadbare claims of election fraud.

“If we don’t solve the Presidential Election Fraud of 2020 (which we have thoroughly and conclusively documented), Republicans will not be voting in ‘22 or ’24. It is the single most important thing for Republicans to do.”

Of course, the first issue with that statement is that there has been no evidence of voter fraud that could have affected the results of the 2020 presidential election. That is certainly not for lack of trying, as fundraising to investigate claims of election fraud has become a big business.

While millions of dollars are being spent trying to find evidence of significant fraud, dozens of courts, every agency of the former Trump administration, and election officials in all 50 states have all found the electoral system in the United States remains the world standard for accuracy and integrity.

Even the recent Arizona audit by the Cyber Ninjas, which was specifically targeted at finding fraud found the election results to accurately reflect the will of the voters.

Considering this, one must see conspiracy theories as more credible than the judicial system of the United States to believe election fraud affected the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.

Nevertheless, the former president continues to claim election fraud, and remains the de facto leader of the Republican party. In his role as party leader, Trump pledged Republicans will not vote in the midterms or the next presidential election.

Withdrawing from democracy does not seem to be a viable path to building the Republican party or advancing policy goals. However, Republicans have chosen to support Trump in other unlikely circumstances, including his unsuccessful January 6 attempt at a self-coup.

So, it will be interesting to see their reaction to this latest anti-democratic action as Trump calls for a complete withdrawal from democracy.