The House panel has been investigating the Jan 6th attack for 8 months and has shared some clues through its subpoenas and court filings regarding the money. Doubts around where the money to incite such an attack were circling around, with the Republican National Committee filing a lawsuit to thwart a subpoena from the committee.
The House panel secretly subpoenaed an RNC vendor last month. However, when the lawsuit was made public, the panel defended themselves by pointing out that it was looking into some new lead led by Trump asking for donations after he lost the 2020 elections.
Norm Eisen, a former House lawyer in Trump’s first impeachment case said, “Ever since Watergate, one of the central adages in … congressional investigations of presidential wrongdoing has been ‘follow the money’. The 1/6 committee investigation has been sweeping in all of its dimensions, and this is no exception.” He has also said that following the money is one of the typical methods to find the way to a bigger conspiracy.
The panel subpoenaed Salesforce on Feb 23rd, mainly looking to probe into Trump’s email asking for donations, and emails of false election fraud.
Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif, a member of the House panel said, “I think the level of grift that was involved with the Trump campaign and people close to the former president, how the Jan. 6 efforts were for many of them, this is what they were doing to make money.”
The House panel is divided into skilled teams, each focusing on a core area, which also includes the money section. Aguilar reports that the money team is making “significant progress”, presenting the panel with regular findings. Eisen said, “The committee has not tipped its hand of everything they have. They dedicated significant resources to the money trails. And I’m certain that in the hearings and in the final report, there’s going to be much more evidence revealed.”
While the money flow findings are kept under wraps, the panel is also investigating possible crimes. The panel does not have any criminal jurisdiction, however they have issued criminal referrals to the Justice Department for some witnesses who refused to cooperate.
Last week, the panel reported possible crimes Trump might have done related to the Capitol attack, involving attorney John Eastman. Other than this, Eastman is also facing another subpoena from the panel, where he might have conspired to defraud and common law fraud. Eastman’s case could become much bigger moving forward, if the panel issues criminal referrals against Trump at the end of the investigation.
In this case, the Justice Department will be pressured to show impartiality, only if the panel can show and prove clear intentions behind their efforts. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif, another panel member and chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said, “Certainly, I think a referral from Congress gets the attention of the Department of Justice. At the same time, the Congress has to be careful not to play into any narrative that a prosecution — if the Justice Department were to bring one — is politically motivated in any way.”
It will be pretty complicated to issue a criminal referral if we think of it that way, however, the panel will be required to approach the investigation in a systematic, meticulous manner- to only focus on the findings based on facts and evidence and as Schiff said “remaining objective along the way.”
In the next few days, the panel will possibly uncover more financial details. With all these investigations and subpoenas, it’s still unclear as to how the money was provided for the Jan 6 rally, where it came from, what events led to the attack and who financially benefited along the way.
Kimberly Guilfoyle, Donald Trump Jr.’s fiancee is due to testify next week and hand over some documents to the panel on Friday. ProPublica reported that Guilfoyle boasted in text messages saying that she helped raise $3 million for the Jan 6 rally at the Ellipse. The panel is also trying to track down appearance fees for the rally and is seeking bank records. Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md, another panel member said, “There’s no doubt that there is a very big money making operation component to this story.” Not only the panel, but Anna Massoglia, an editorial and investigations manager for the nonprofit group OpenSecrets is also trying to pinpoint the money trail. She says a combined effort of dark-money groups, nonprofits and super PACS funded the rally, but maybe not the attack. OpenSecrets have currently identified nine groups who may have funneled money to the rally- Stop the Steal, Women for America First, Tea Party Patriots and Turning Point Actions, Rule of Law Defense Fund, Black Conservatives Fund, Moms for America, Peaceably Gather and Phyllis Schlafly Eagles.
The committee is expected to hold its first hearing in Spring, with an interim report in Summer and a final report by Fall.