Trump's Actions Were 'Treason Squared,' Kirschner Says After Jan. 6 Hearing

Former federal prosecutor Glenn Kirschner alleged Friday that former President Donald Trump's actions on January 6, 2021, appeared to amount to "treason squared" after the first public hearing of the House select committee investigating the U.S. Capitol riot was broadcast on primetime television.

Hundreds of Trump's supporters attacked the Capitol last year in an effort to disrupt the formal certification of President Joe Biden's Electoral College victory. That attack came after Trump urged his followers at a nearby rally to walk to the federal legislative building and "fight like hell" to save their country.

The House select committee investigating the violent attack and the former president's efforts to overturn the 2020 election results began publicly laying out some of the probe's findings and evidence during the first hearing this week. Kirschner discussed the presentations in an interview with MSNBC's The ReidOut hosted by Joy-Ann Reid.

The legal analyst argued Trump "hatched" the plan for the events of January 6. "Donald Trump was implementing it," he said, citing a tweet by the former president in which he urged supporters to travel to protest in the nation's capital. He then pointed to hearing the word "war" repeated during the hearing.

Donald Trump
Legal expert Glenn Kirschner told MSNBC on Friday that he believes former President Donald Trump's actions on January 6, 2021, appear to be "treason squared." Above, Trump speaks to supporters on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC. MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images

"Every time I heard war, my mind went back to treason, which is a very short and simple statute," Kirschner said. The attorney then cited 18 U.S. Code § 2381, which states: "Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason..."

"What we now know is that Donald Trump not only set the date for the Capitol attack, as we've just discussed, but he also refused to call off his angry mob once he deployed them for more than three hours," Kirschner explained. The lawyer went on to say that Trump also "refused the deployment of any forces to go to the Capitol to fend off the attack, to protect the people in the U.S. Capitol that he set his angry mob on."

He also pointed out that it ultimately "took an order from [then Vice President] Mike Pence, who frankly probably didn't have the authority at that moment, but General [Mark] Milley said he was insistent, 'we have to get forces to the Capitol.'"

"This begins to feel not just like treason but like treason squared," the former federal prosecutor concluded.

Following the hearing, Pence's former chief of staff Marc Short spoke with Fox Business to discuss the evidence presented by the House select committee.

"The vice president's first calls were to [GOP House Minority Leader] Kevin McCarthy, [GOP Senate Minority] Leader [Mitch] McConnell, [House] Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi and [Democratic Senate Majority] Leader [Chuck] Schumer, to make sure they were safe and to make sure their functions were OK," Short said, describing the then-vice president's conversations amid the violent January 6 attack.

The Pence aide went on to explain that the former vice president "reached out to the Pentagon to make sure additional reinforcements were sent." The Senate and House leaders encouraged him to do so, he said.

Short said that Pence did not believe speaking with Trump would be "constructive" as the events unfolded, and added that "his focus was working with the people in the Capitol to get the work done."

Many of Trump's supporters were openly chanting, "hang Mike Pence," as they carried out the attack. During the violence, Trump tweeted out: "Mike Pence didn't have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. USA demands the truth!"

The former president and his allies had publicly and privately pressured Pence to reject the Electoral College votes cast for Biden in several key swing states as Pence oversaw the formal certification of the results. Pence refused to go along with the plot, asserting that he did not have the authority to overturn an election.

Trump continues to insist that he did nothing wrong on January 6, and that the House select committee is conducting a "witch hunt."

"So the Unselect Committee of political HACKS refuses to play any of the many positive witnesses and statements, refuses to talk of the Election Fraud and Irregularities that took place on a massive scale, and decided to use a documentary maker from Fake News ABC to spin only negative footage," the former president wrote in a post on his social media site TruthSocial Thursday evening.

He added on Friday morning: "The so-called 'Rush on the Capitol' was not caused by me, it was caused by a Rigged and Stolen Election!"

Despite Trump's claims, no evidence has emerged corroborating allegations of widespread fraud leading to Biden's election win. To the contrary, more than 60 legal challenges to the election filed by Trump and his allies have failed in state and federal courts. Even judges appointed by the former president have ruled against the lawsuits.

Trump's former attorney general, William Barr, who was widely viewed as one of his most loyal Cabinet members, has said repeatedly that there is "no evidence" to support the fraud claims. He wrote in his memoir that he told Trump directly that the allegations were "bullsh*t" and that his legal team after the 2020 election was a "clown show."

The House select committee on Thursday showed video of Barr's testimony to investigators in which he made similar comments. In the video, the former Trump administration official asserted again that the claims about election fraud were "bullish*t."

"Frankly a year and a half later I've seen nothing to change my mind on that," Barr said.