I think we all know that if Congress took the unprecedented step of referring criminal charges against a Democratic president to the DOJ, that Fox would find it quite a big deal, indeed.
From The Washington Post:
The [Jan. 6] committee recommended that prosecutors pursue four charges against Trump: obstruction of an official proceeding of Congress, conspiracy to defraud the United States, inciting or assisting an insurrection, and conspiracy to make a false statement.
The Justice Department already has an active investigation of Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 vote and his alleged mishandling of government documents. While criminal referrals from the committee hold no legal weight, they set a notable precedent: Congress has never before referred a sitting or former president for prosecution.
It's not a huge surprise that Fox is doing its best to downplay the seriousness of the January 6th committee's findings. Oliver Darcy noted how scant the coverage was in prime time tonight. But even when Fox covered the story during its so-called news programming, it was very skewed.
And, of course, making Trump a victim.
After today's committee meeting ended, legal hack Jonathan Turley joined the America Reports show to start spinning the criminal referrals on Trump's behalf.
Co-anchor Sandra Smith asked the panel to “weigh in on what this means.” But before anyone had a chance to speak, she set up Trump's Deep State victimhood by saying that the threat could “hang over his candidacy until, unless the DOJ makes it very clear where they stand on this referral.”
Turley did not go the victimhood route, but he seemed eager to do everything he could think of to delegitimize the committee's findings:
TURLEY: First of all, obviously has no binding effect, But the risk is the Department of Justice could ultimately just reject this and really contradict the claims of many that the criminal conduct here is obvious. It's not obvious.
That’s not to say that his conduct wasn’t reckless or reprehensible, but that’s not a criminal act, and it was basically a rehashing of what we have seen in virtually every one of these hearings. And they simply attached these referrals to it.
So, the Department of Justice could reject the referral and take it nowhere. They could also take it to trial and look for a favorable jury in places like D.C.
The problem is, I don't think these convictions on this evidence would likely be - would likely withstand judicial scrutiny.
The biggest problem are those counts that turn on the president's speech. That speech, in my view, was protected under existing Supreme Court cases...
But even if they were to eke out a conviction, they’d have a pretty hard time on appeal.
The other panelist was former prosecutor Andy McCarthy. He was a little less hacky. But he gave a complicated legal argument that I believe, as a non-lawyer, amounted to an argument that because the DOJ had not charged any of the rioting insurrectionists with insurrection that it would be difficult to charge Trump with that crime.
MCCARTHY: My sense is the Justice Department will ignore it, what the Justice Department generally does when Congress grandstands in this fashion. I would just point out the last referral that they made was about incitement and incitement of the violence at the Capitol. The Justice Department has prosecuted upwards of 800 people in connection with the capital riot. Insurrection is a federal crime. They have not brought a single insurrection case against anybody who’s been prosecuted. They have taken the position in the most serious cases that they brought in connection with seditious conspiracy, that Trump was not an unindicted co-conspirator. And to the extent that the defendants who were charged tried to blame Trump in those cases, the Justice Department took the position that he was basically a pretext for things that these militia-type groups were planning to do anyway.
So the Justice Department, in order to prosecute Trump at this point for inciting or aiding and abetting the incitement of the capital riot, they would have to completely unwind and reverse the position that they have taken for about two years. On these cases.
So again, this is a theatrical exercise more than a real hearing process.
OK, fine. But clearly the committee thinks there are good reasons to refer Trump to the DOJ. It's noteworthy that there was nobody in this 14-minute discussion willing to make the committee’s argument.
It was noteworthy, though, that Jonathan Turley kept hinting that Trump was in serious criminal legal jeopardy over the stolen documents he stashed at Mar-a-Lago.
TURLEY: What we have always said on this network, and some of us have emphasized, is that the more serious threat is coming from Mara Lago, not January 6th, and I think that's still the case.
But if I were defense counsel for President Trump, my eyes would still remain fixed on Mar-a-Lago.
Turley took a gratuitous swipe at the J6 committee itself. He sneered that the committee gave him the “feeling of a group of actors refusing to leave the stage.” He said nothing about Trump's far more egregious and consequential refusal to leave the stage.
You can watch the spin below, from the December 19, 2022 America reports.
I take this occasion to wish all of you a very Happy Holiday season.
I went to the doctor today and he removed the splint on my arm, told me to stop using the sling for the most part and gave me arm exercises. That’s all great but it has left me in a lot of pain tonight, so unfortunately, I stopped working on the post I was editing (from Brian) and hope to resume in the morning.
Lately, I’ve been hearing some hosts and guests on CNN refer – in a disparaging tone of voice – to the fact that the J6 hearings were “good TV”, as though that were somehow a bad thing. We called it the “boob tube” during the ’60s and ’70s, but I thought that term went out of style with the advent of big flat-screens.
The time I’ve spent in tribunals is limited to watching serials on the boob tube, where the ability to present a convincing, compelling argument is clearly presented as admirable. Who on earth would want a prosecutor or attorney who puts listeners to sleep? Hats off to the J6 committee for crafting a whole slew of compelling arguments. That said, I think they’ll nail TFG for mishandling official documents.
Anyway, this sort of “just saying” criticism on CNN probably reflects changes wanted by the new owners. The movement to the centre and right is subtle: some hosts are still out-spoken but others have disappeared or have been shifted to other time slots. I remain deeply disappointed by the replacement of the early morning show “New Day” by a pale copy of “Fox and Friends”. All three hosts were favourites of mine in their previous lives but CNN This Morning is nowhere near as interesting to progressives as Fox and Friends is to the foxies).