MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow on Tuesday emphasized portions of the latest indictment against Donald Trump that show his unnamed co-conspirators welcoming the prospect of violence to help ensure his continuing grip on power following his 2020 election loss.
The indictment, for instance, describes “Co-conspirator 4” as a Justice Department official whom Trump considered installing as acting attorney general because he was so receptive to Trump’s election views. This individual was Jeffrey Clark, Maddow said, and the indictment also alleges he worked with Trump to “use the Justice Department to open sham election crime investigations and influence state legislatures with knowingly false claims of election fraud.”
After urging viewers to read the 45-page indictment, which accuses Trump of conspiring to defraud the country, obstruct an official government proceeding, and deprive people of their civil rights under the law and the Constitution, Maddow said that “the thing that will jump out at you is the violence.”
“Not descriptions of violence on Jan. 6, but the way Trump and his alleged co-conspirators talked about how violence was going to be part of this, how that was factored into this alleged conspiracy in a way that these folks seemed to expect,” she explained, before honing in on Clark.
Quoting the indictment, Maddow said: “The Deputy White House Counsel reiterated to Co-Conspirator 4 that there had not been outcome-determinative fraud in the election and that if the Defendant remained in office nonetheless, there would be ‘riots in every major city in the United States.’ Co-Conspirator 4 responded, ‘Well, [Deputy White House Counsel], that’s why there’s an Insurrection Act.’”
That legislation, Maddow noted, allows the president to deploy the military against civilians. (Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes, who was convicted of seditious conspiracy, urged Trump to invoke it at the time.)
The indictment also describes “co-conspirator 2” as an attorney who sought to leverage then-Vice President Mike Pence’s “ceremonial role overseeing the certification proceeding to obstruct the certification” of the election. According to Maddow, this individual was John Eastman, a former clerk for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas who was behind the creation of pro-Trump electors in states that Trump lost.
According to the indictment, on Jan. 4, 2021 Eastman told by a senior advisor to Trump, “[Y]ou’re going to cause riots in the streets.”
The indictment continues: “Co-Conspirator 2 responded that there had previously been points in the nation’s history where violence was necessary to protect the republic.”
It goes on to say that on Jan. 5, Pence’s counsel told Eastman that if his proposal for the vice president were to be executed, it would lead to a “disastrous situation” where the election might “have to be decided in the streets.”
Before turning to a panel of co-hosts, Maddow offered some general thoughts on the indictment—Trump’s third since March, and possibly not even his last.
“He is innocent until proven guilty, but if the allegations made by the Justice Department in this indictment are proven, history will not ask how we got to the point where they had to indict a former president,” she said. “History will ask: how did a person like this get elected to the U.S. presidency?”