Watergate author Bob Woodward says key Trump insiders who met in the Willard Hotel the day before the Jan. 6th Capitol riot may have engaged in a conspiracy against the U.S. government and could be prosecuted.
Woodward made the remark on MSNBC in an appearance with coauthor Robert Costa, where the pair outlined the extraordinary series of events amid then-President Donald Trump‘s election overturn effort.
‘It’s calculated,’ said Woodward.
Interviewer Mike Brzezinski then called it a ‘calculated set of meetings,’ to which Woodard agreed.
‘Yes. And and phone calls and agitation. Of course, there’s no better agitator than Steve Bannon and we talked recently with a Republican, former Republican head of the criminal division in the Justice Department, who said there is a lay down case just in what we know.’
Journalist Bob Woodward described a Trump ‘war room’ that convened at the Willard Hotel the day before the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, when Congress was to meet to count the electoral votes
Journalist and author Bob Woodward described a ‘calculated’ meeting in the Willard Hotel, and cited a federal law against conspiring to defraud the government. Here former President Trump congratulates Steve Bannon while swearing in senior White House staff
The pro-Trump faction convened at the storied Willard Hotel
‘It’s 18 US Code Section 371. I’m sorry, this sounds technical, but it is a law that says it is a crime to defraud the government in any deceptive way. And that’s exactly what they did here.’
The section of the law states: ‘If two or more persons conspire either to commit any offense against the United States, or to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose, and one or more of such persons do any act to effect the object of the conspiracy, each shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.’
‘It was all planned out in a key way,’ said Woodward.
Woodward was speaking about the ‘war room’ meetings inside the stories hotel near the White House attended by former chief White House strategist Steve Bannon, as well as other figures including lawyer John Eastman.
It all came amid an effort, which Trump revealed publicly, of trying to get Vice President Mike Pence not to count votes from states where Trump was claiming fraud.
‘It’s not just a Willard war room happening in an isolated way across the street. The president is calling in. Trump is calling in,’ said journalist Robert Costa
Attorney John Eastman gestures as he speaks next to U.S. President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, as Trump supporters gather ahead of the president’s speech to contest the certification by the U.S. Congress of the results of the 2020 U.S. presidential election
The meeting took place the day before Jan. 6th
President Trump, who spoke at the ‘Stop the Steal’ rally, called into the war room, Woodward and Costa write
Costa said he was personally ‘roaming around’ the area that night. ‘It’s not just a Willard war room happening in an isolated way across the street. The president is calling in. Trump is calling in. He’s coordinating this effort to speak for Pence,’ he said.
Former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani took part, as did former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik.
Woodward then harkened back to his Watergate past, where a grand jury named Nixon as an unindicted coconspirator.
A House select Jan. 6th committee has subpoenaed Bannon to testify. When he did not comply with a subpoena, the House voted to hold him in contempt. The Justice Department now must decide whether to charge him.
His lawyer says he is deferring to former President Trump, who is asserting executive privilege over documents at the National Archives and calls the House probe a witch hunt.
Another participant, former Trump advisor Boris Epshteyn, told the Washington Post: ‘I firmly believed then, as I believe now, that the vice president — as president of the Senate — had the constitutional power to send the issue back to the states for 10 days to investigate the widespread fraud and report back well in advance of Inauguration Day, January 20th. Our efforts were focused on conveying that message.’
Kerik told the paper his security firm billed the Trump campaign $55,000 for hotel rooms to house members of the legal team.
Woodward and Costa describe the scene in their book, ‘Peril.’