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Op-Ed: ‘Witness tampering’ — January 6 Committee hearings hit a possibly major criminal issue

Tampering with witnesses is an extremely bad, extremely dumb, move.

Storming of the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. Source - Tyler Merbler from USA (CC BY 2.0)
Storming of the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. Source - Tyler Merbler from USA (CC BY 2.0)

As if the January 6 Committee wasn’t getting enough raw materials, serious allegations of possible witness tampering are now emerging. This is a truly bizarre development in an already mindbogglingly complex hearing.

There’s an old saying – “They can get Capone, but they can’t get you?” This analogy comes from accusations of so-called mob tactics being used against January 6 Committee witnesses – Intimidating witnesses. There are countless tales of mob interference with witnesses, and Trump has been described by the media as acting and talking like a mob boss many times. It’s a media image he seems to like.

Meanwhile back in reality – The possible witness tampering is being taken very seriously. It has to be taken seriously. Any kind of witness tampering in any kind of legal environment is in itself a criminal offense. Jail time is quite possible.

According to Liz Cheney, multiple credible issues have been raised by allegations of witness tampering. Witnesses have supposedly been rung to advise that they should continue their loyalty to “Trumpworld”. (Must be some theme park.)

Deconstructing, a bit

You would think the January 6 hearings have created a big enough minefield for Trump. The allegations are extremely serious, and the testimonies have been almost routinely devastating. More allegations, particularly criminal allegations, hardly help.

Kindly note – No charges have been laid against anyone for possible offenses. No names have been mentioned as being responsible for the alleged offenses. The current state of affairs is that the allegations are under consideration by the Committee for appropriate action.

Witness tampering claims make things so much worse. It’s hard to imagine a worse look for anyone accused of any illegality in context with the hearings.

A few considerations here:

  • Why tamper with witnesses at all?
  • What risks do witnesses face?
  • Who or what would take action against witnesses?
  • What type of actions would be taken?
  • What the hell sort of lamebrained, suicidal, legal, or other advice is anyone getting where witness contacting, let alone tampering, is even under consideration?

 There are a couple of problems with witness tampering in the manner described:

  1. The entire lineage of a phone call can be traced and proven through multiple third parties; phone companies, service providers, etc.
  2. Phone calls are routinely logged on people’s phones.
  3. Phone records can be transferred so deletion is impossible.
  4. Phone calls can be recorded and often are by people in “interesting” environments.

 So, taken on face value, and without legal findings, anyone conducting witness tampering is not only breaking the law but is also incredibly, astonishingly, stupid. There could be no dumber, more certain way of documenting witness tampering.

This is classic idiot-level white-collar crime methodology – Make sure to leave a full audit trail of every law you’ve broken, including times of day. In this case, anyone with a law degree out of a cornflakes packet will be able to prove you made the call, too. So you go to jail for a few years, too.

Brilliant, isn’t it?

Even the gases from a flatulent cockroach would have a hard time living down to this level of intellect.

By the way…

Very, very few of the real mob bosses ever avoided jail time, with or without interference with witnesses. Tampering with witnesses is an extremely bad, extremely dumb, move. These allegations are bullets in so many ways.  

Maybe Hollywood would like to start making movies about cupcakes, or something? Try some different role models for impressionable ingenues? Because as role models go, mob bosses always come out on the wrong end of the stories.


The opinions expressed in this Op-Ed are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the Digital Journal or its members.

Written By

Editor-at-Large based in Sydney, Australia.

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