Election

Jan. 6 Capitol Riot Investigators Hint They're Gathering Trump-Gohmert Communications

Jan. 6 investigators dropped bread crumbs  about their next steps this week. The trail appears to lead to Rep. Louie Gohmert.
Jan. 6 investigators dropped bread crumbs about their next steps this week. The trail appears to lead to Rep. Louie Gohmert. Win McNamee / Getty Images
U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert is challenging Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton in the Republican primaries on March 1, but even if he unseats Paxton, Gohmert might carry on Paxton’s legacy of involvement in high-profile criminal investigations.

On Tuesday, White House counsel Dana Remus sent a letter to the National Archives, where former President Donald Trump’s White House records are stored, informing them that the Jan. 6 Commission would soon be seeking “communications concerning the former Vice President’s responsibilities as President of the Senate in certifying the vote of presidential electors" on the day of the riot.

Remus’ letter didn’t come right out and say whose communications with Trump the commission plans to obtain, but it came pretty close.

According to Politico, the letter spelled out that the commission planned to gather communications related to “litigation in which certain parties were represented by the Department of Justice.”

It’s not hard to piece together who the “certain parties” Remus is hinting at.

The Department of Justice publicly backed then-Vice President Mike Pence in December 2020 when Gohmert sued to try to force the vice president to overturn the presidential election, which Trump lost. Federal district and appeals courts in Texas ended up dismissing Gohmert’s lawsuit.

Still, the suit forced Pence to pick a side in the face of calls from Trump and a stalwart faction of his followers to exercise his authority as president of the U.S. Senate and block the certification of the election results.

Pence announced his decision to honor the results on Jan. 6 and proceed with certification in the Senate. Then, pro-Trump insurrectionists attacked the Capitol. Some called for Pence’s execution by hanging as punishment for honoring the results, which they perceived as a betraying Trump.

Now, Jan. 6 committee members are indicating that they want to know exactly what role Trump played in pushing Pence to overturn the election. Committee member Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Democrat from Maryland, hinted in late December that the committee views Gohmert’s lawsuit as a key source of pressure on Pence, calling the suit a “significant detail in that it was part of a plan to isolate and coerce Pence.”

Gohmert’s potential entanglement in the Jan. 6 investigation might not end there. In October, two high-level organizers of the Jan. 6 attacks told Rolling Stone that Gohmert was among a small group of lawmakers who helped them coordinate the riot.

Gohmert didn't respond to the Observer’s request for comment about his alleged connections to the attacks.

Meanwhile, Paxton has spent significant campaign funds on a series of TV attack ads against Gohmert since early January, the Texas Tribune reported. The ads exclusively target East Texas, Gohmert’s home turf. Paxton has not launched attack ads against either Land Commissioner George P. Bush or former state Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman, the other two candidates in the Republican primary race.

There hasn't been any public polling of the primary, but Gohmert is taking Paxton's attacks as a good sign.

Paxton and Gohmert are among Trump’s most loyal political allies, but Gohmert has sought to campaign against Paxton from the right, while pointing to the multiple ongoing criminal investigations the embattled attorney general is facing. The way he sees it, the plan is working. "The fact that our compromised AG is only attacking me also tells you that he recognizes the real conservative in the race," Gohmert said in a recent statement.

Paxton's office didn't respond to the Observer's request for comment. 
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Michael Murney is a staff writer at the Dallas Observer and a graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. His reporting has appeared in Chicago’s South Side Weekly and the Chicago Reader.
Contact: Michael Murney