The Jolt: Trump’s legal problems could soon grow

The House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the Capitol will meet today to discuss whether to urge prosecutors to seek charges against former President Donald Trump.

Politico reported last week that the U.S. House committee is set to press the Justice Department to pursue at least three criminal charges against Trump, and MSNBC confirmed the plans were finalized during a Sunday meeting.

The developments will be closely watched by authorities in downtown Atlanta, where the monthslong Fulton County special grand jury probe of Trump’s efforts to overturn his defeat in Georgia is believed to be nearing the final stages.

Meanwhile, the Justice Department is continuing its investigation of Trump’s handling of presidential records and classified material. And a House Committee could soon release six years of Trump’s tax returns that legislators obtained after a lengthy legal battle.

The ongoing investigations come at a dicey time for Trump as he struggles to gain traction for his comeback bid. Still, his allies in the U.S. House are providing him with some cover.

Axios writes that a group of House Republicans are drafting a rebuttal that will be timed to compete with the select committee’s report this week.

The committee meeting begins at 1 p.m. The final report, which could clock in at over 1,000 pages, is expected to be published as soon as Wednesday.


WARNOCK BIDEN. With his runoff victory behind him, U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock gave a clearer endorsement of President Joe Biden than he did during the campaign against Republican Herschel Walker.

He told CBS Mornings on Monday that he would support Biden if he runs for another term in 2024, but stopped short of saying whether he thinks the president should run again. During the campaign, he avoided such questions to avoid tying himself too closely to Biden, saying they were “pundit” talk.

Warnock also responded to whispers that after his runoff victory over Walker that he now becomes one-to-watch in the 2024 race for president. He said that another campaign is not on his mind after winning a six-year term after being on the ballot five times in less than two years.

“I’m finally focused on being able to do the work that people of Georgia have elected me to do,” he said. “In addition to that, I’ve got two children at home, 6 and 4. I promised them a trip to Disney World.”


Former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams (left) and her campaign manager Lauren Groh-Wargo. (AJC file photo)

Credit: TNS

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Credit: TNS

ABRAMS CASH. Stacey Abrams raised more than $103 million for her failed rematch against Gov. Brian Kemp, a record sum in a race for Georgia governor. So why is she having trouble paying back her vendors?

Lauren Groh-Wargo, the Democrat’s campaign manager, told Axios that a “cavalcade of negative press” made fundraising difficult in the final months. The campaign now owes more than $1 million to vendors and is trying to sell its donor lists and voter contact spreadsheets to pay down the debt.

The campaign’s financial troubles in the last stretch of the race astounded other Democrats. Abrams cut TV ad spending to less than $1 million in the final two weeks of the race, slashing the campaign’s spending by more than a half at a critical time.

By contrast, Kemp spent almost $3 million on TV ads in the final week. U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock had reserved almost $3.5 million worth of ads for the last seven days of the race.

(At the time Groh-Wargo said the cutback was to shift spending toward digital outreach, but she later acknowledged that was bunk. She also said in a 52-part Twitter thread that the race was “virtually impossible” to win.)

Abrams’ post-election TV appearances hawking her children’s book and trumpeting Warnock’s runoff win has further alienated her allies. She played no visible role in the runoff and the senator made no mention of her during his victory speech.

“I’m done with this,” said one former consultant. “We have vendors still waiting to be paid.”


Former U.S. Rep. Elliott Levitas, who became Georgia’s first Jewish U.S. House member in 1975, died on Friday. He was 91. (File photo)

Credit: File photo

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Credit: File photo

OUR CONDOLENCES. Former U.S. Rep. Elliott Levitas, who became Georgia’s first Jewish U.S. House member in 1975, died on Friday. He was 91.

Levitas’ political career started in 1965 and his first act in the Legislature was to oppose the House’s refusal to allow Julian Bond, a civil rights activist and Vietnam War critic who was Black, to take his seat.

A year later, Levitas bucked party lines by refusing to support Lester Maddox, a racist segregationist Democratic candidate for governor, and instead cast his vote for Republican Bo Callaway. Callaway had won a plurality of the vote in that race.

In Congress, he oversaw the subcommittee investigating the Reagan administration’s efforts to undermine the Environmental Protection Agency and championed the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area.

Long after he was unseated by a Republican opponent in 1984, he continued as a renowned litigator, winning what was the largest class-action award against the government in U.S. history.

You can read his obituary here.


GETTING TO WORK. Augusta Mayor-elect Garnett Johnson was among a group of 13 newly elected mayors invited to the White House on Friday to discuss key policy issues.

Johnson said he was especially excited to hear that President Joe Biden’s administration was launching a new initiative to address mental health concerns that worsened during the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s been a full day just working and talking with colleagues about addressing what seems to be common issues: homelessness, affordable housing, infrastructure needs, crime,” Johnson said. “So, it’s been a great day.”

Biden dropped in to chat with the mayors, and they also heard from a series of agency heads and top advisors.

“Yesterday’s meeting highlighted the importance the Biden-Harris Administration places on working with mayors to deliver results in communities across the country,” the White House said in a news release.

Johnson won the Augusta mayoral runoff in June, and he will be sworn in on Tuesday. But his term doesn’t begin until Jan. 1.



  • The U.S. Senate is back to work on a long-term spending deal but right now the only votes scheduled are related to confirmations.
  • The House isn’t expected to return until midweek when the appropriations bills are ready for votes in that chamber.
  • President Joe Biden is meeting with the president of Ecuador, Guillermo Lasso, at the White House.


HARPER MOVES. Incoming Agriculture Commissioner Tyler Harper rolled out a transition team co-chaired by Jay Roberts and Sydne Smith.

Incoming Agriculture Commissioner Tyler Harper rolled out a transition team co-chaired by Jay Roberts and Sydne Smith. (David Barnes for the AJC)

Credit: David Barnes for the AJC

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Credit: David Barnes for the AJC

Among the other members of the team are fundraiser Denise Deal; GOP strategists Billy Kirkland and Stephen Lawson; Chris Riley, the top aide to former Gov. Nathan Deal; agriculture executive Jennifer Perdue; and state Rep. Dominic LaRiccia.


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