Throughout the summer and the start of the fall, the Justice Department’s investigation of Donald Trump has brought a slew of new evidence, recriminations, and controversy. But are these hearings a necessary step towards accountability – or a politically-motivated ruse?
However, one thing is certain for both camps: the hearings’ revelations will move voters deeper into their respective camps and could easily push the votes’ final tally.
The State of the Investigation: What Happened on January 6th?
On January 6th, 2021, a mob of armed men broke into Washington D.C.’s Capitol and attempted to prevent Congress from counting the Electoral College votes. This day left five people dead and a frightening scar on America’s political institutions.
Ultimately, the rioters’ end goal was to overturn the results of the 2020 election, which Donald Trump lost.
Over 200 people have been charged with federal offenses due to their participation in this failed insurrection. Starting in March 2022, the Justice Department began investigating the extent of Donald Trump’s involvement in organizing and inciting these riots.
So far, Congress has held three hearings as new evidence and testimonies emerged. The latest, which began in early September, is strikingly close to the upcoming midterm elections. Most GOP leaders have publicly disavowed the insurrection and have distanced themselves from the far-right organizations that took part in it. However, many voters have not dissolved the association in their minds – and by November, many will likely keep it.
What Could Happen to Trump (and his Campaign)?
Currently, the Congressional panel in charge of the investigations hasn’t decided whether to file any criminal charges against Donald Trump. If they were to charge him and he’s found guilty of any major offenses (which is a big, unlikely if), former president Trump could be looking at a prison sentence of over ten years.
And yet, Trump himself seems unfazed by this. In rallies around the country, he has openly admitted his desire to run again in 2024. And while the Constitution doesn’t bar any U.S.-born citizen from running for office due to prior convictions, some rules would bar him from serving in non-elected federal offices.
For many within his own Party, an official Trump candidacy would be a mixed bag. On one side, Trump would be less likely to serve jail time, as it would look like political persecution. On the other, if he faces no repercussions, it would set a precedent that would run against national interests and help mobilize the opposition to boot.
The November Midterms and its big question mark
Already, attitudes about the January 6th insurrection are strong enough to influence election results. One of the biggest Trump critics within the Republican Party, Wyoming Congresswoman Liz Cheney, recently lost her State primaries – and her tough position on Trump is widely regarded as a major factor behind her landslide defeat.
Donald Trump maintains deep grassroots support within the Republican Party, but his figure remains controversial overall. As a result, the candidates he endorses tend to have an easy run in the primaries – but when the real election comes, they may find a tougher battle ahead of them. With barely a month to go, it will be interesting to see how many choose to downplay their links to the “MAGA movement” or double-down in their positions.
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