In the 45-page federal indictment against former President Donald Trump, the alleged attempts to manipulate the election are described in detail, but there is one unsourced statement that raises more concerns than it answers.
The focus of this paragraph is Trump’s widely reported phone conversation with House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy on January 6, 2021.
“At 3:00 p.m., the defendant had a phone call with the Minority Leader of the United States House of Representatives. The defendant told the Minority Leader that the crowd at the Capitol was more upset about the election than the Minority Leader was,” according to the indictment.
Before the phone contact, members of the House and Senate had just left their respective chambers. As Trump had instructed them during his speech, hundreds of thousands of others remained nonviolent while rioters continued to throng the Capitol.
According to former Republican Washington state representative Jaime Herrera Beutler, who voted with Democrats to impeach Trump, the phone call was highly incriminating. Herrera Beutler came forward approximately thirty days after the January 6th incident to provide an account of a phone call she claims McCarthy relayed to her.
Herrera Beutler claims that Trump not only did not exhibit contrition for the Capitol attack, but sided with the perpetrators. McCarthy reportedly overheard him remark that they were “more upset about the election than you are.”
It is conceivable that Special Counsel Jack Smith based his account of the phone call on Herrera Beutler’s statement, but doing so would represent a significant departure from his typical approach. One of the few instances in the indictment where Smith does not specify where he obtained the information for a claim is in paragraph 115.
In this paragraph, federal prosecutors have entirely concealed how they know what was said on the phone call by speaking as if they possess infinite knowledge. And this encourages speculation regarding numerous hypotheses. Is the communication being recorded? Mark Meadows, who was rumored to be in the room with Trump at the time, did he provide a statement to the investigators? Or maybe McCarthy?
Meadows has not commented on the matter. McCarthy is taking extraordinary measures to avoid conveying the impression that he assisted Smith.
Former Trump counsel Michael Cohen, who betrayed his former employer, believes that Meadows is a cooperating witness.
According to The Hill, “Cohen raised questions Wednesday about why Mark Meadows and Jared Kushner were missing from the latest indictment against former President Trump, suggesting the possibility that they could be cooperating witnesses.”
McCarthy made a statement about the Hunter controversy soon after the indictment was made public, referring to it as “DOJ’s attempt to distract from the news and attack the frontrunner for the Republican nomination, President Trump.”