Smoking gun: Trump's big mouth keeps getting him in trouble

For decades, Trump prided himself on never committing anything to paper, email or texts

By Lucian K. Truscott IV


Published July 8, 2023 8:00AM (EDT)

President Donald Trump speaks on the phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Oval Office of the White House, January 28, 2017 in Washington, DC. On Saturday, President Trump is making several phone calls with world leaders from Japan, Germany, Russia, France and Australia. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
President Donald Trump speaks on the phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Oval Office of the White House, January 28, 2017 in Washington, DC. On Saturday, President Trump is making several phone calls with world leaders from Japan, Germany, Russia, France and Australia. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

The jaws of justice are beginning to tighten around the ankles of Defendant Trump. One of the great ironies of this century, or any other for that matter, is that the jaws are Defendant Trump's own. That is to say, the verbiage spewed by those jaws back in 2020 is coming back to bite his own capacious ass.

Defendant Trump was trying to overturn the election he had lost, the election he had been told by his campaign advisers that he lost, the election evidence gathered by special counsel Jack Smith shows that he knew he lost, and he engaged in every scammy little gambit he could think of to accomplish his ill-begotten and illegal goal.  It turns out that Defendant Trump, famously averse to putting things down on paper or sending texts and emails, was making use of one of the things he wasn't afraid of – in-person meetings and talking on the telephone, into which he spoke incriminating words making illegal demands that are now in special counsel Smith's crosshairs.

CNN reported this week that the FBI has spoken to former Arizona Speaker of the House Rusty Bowers about two conversations he had with Defendant Trump in November of 2020. The first conversation was with Defendant Trump and his then-lawyer and friend Rudy Giuliani. Later, Bowers spoke with Defendant Trump alone, without Giuliani or any other aides in on the phone call. Bowers has not said what he talked about with Defendant Trump alone on the phone, but he testified movingly before the House Jan. 6 committee about the call he got from Defendant Trump and Giuliani.

Bowers told the Committee that Defendant Trump and Giuliani had two "asks," as he called them.  The first was that he hold an official inquiry by the Arizona legislature to look at evidence Giuliani said he had that 200,000 "illegal immigrants" and some 6,000 dead people had voted in the election in Arizona, evidence that Bowers testified Giuliani never came up with. The second "ask" Bowers described at length, and it's worth quoting here, because this is the kind of evidence the special counsel has obviously gotten from Bowers during what he described as a four-hour interview with FBI agents.  Recall that both Giuliani and Trump were on the phone with Bowers, and it is unclear to whom Bowers was referring when he says "he," but what he described for the Jan. 6 committee amounts to evidence that Defendant Trump joined in a phone conversation during which he and Giuliani were asking Bowers to join them in a conspiracy to commit a felony:

"He said, well, we have heard by an official high up in the Republican legislature that there is a legal theory or a legal ability in Arizona that you can remove the — the electors of President Biden and replace them. And we would — we would like to have the legitimate opportunity through the committee to come to that end and — and remove that. I said, 'Look, you are asking me to do something that is counter to my oath when I swore to the Constitution to uphold it, and I also swore to the Constitution and the laws of the state of Arizona. This is totally foreign as an idea or a theory, to me, and I would never do anything of such magnitude without deep consultation with qualified attorneys.'"

Bowers is talking here, of course, about the Arizona portion of the fake elector conspiracy that is known to be the main focus of Smith's investigation and possible prosecution of Defendant Trump. The significant thing about the special counsel's focus on the fake elector scheme is that it is one of two areas of his investigation where they can put Defendant Trump in the room discussing the commission of a felony, or alternatively, on the phone conspiring with others, in this case, Giuliani and Bowers. 

The man who for decades prided himself on never committing anything to paper, email, or texts, has found himself trapped by his own words.

It is known that Defendant Trump engaged in other phone calls with state officials and legislators during the weeks before the Electoral College met on Dec. 14 in the states, usually at the state capitols, to vote by paper ballot for the presidential candidates to whom they were pledged, and to sign "Certificates of the Vote," the official electoral ballots that would go on to be counted and certified by Congress on Jan. 6. Defendant Trump also spoke by phone to leaders of the Pennsylvania and Michigan legislatures to encourage them to hold hearings on the supposed voter fraud Giuliani claimed to have uncovered.  The grand jury sitting in Washington investigating Defendant Trump's attempts to overturn the election has subpoenaed fake electors from several states, including two from Nevada, who are said to be cooperating with the office of the special counsel. It is unknown if former Arizona Speaker Bowers received a grand jury subpoena, but in an interview with CNN's Kaitlan Collins, Bowers said he "wouldn't discuss" whether he had received subpoenas or testified before the grand jury, obliquely indicating that he had.

It is also known that Defendant Trump met with lawyer John Eastman on at least one and possibly several occasions in the Oval Office to discuss the scheme Eastman concocted for slates of fake electors from battleground states that the White House hoped would be filed with the National Archives and find their way into the House chamber to challenge the official electoral ballots from the battleground states. Eastman was subpoenaed by the grand jury and contested the subpoena on attorney/client grounds, losing that attempt in secret hearings before the chief judge of the D.C. federal court. It is not known if he has testified before the grand jury. He was subpoenaed by District Attorney Fani Willis in Georgia and apparently claimed the Fifth Amendment when questioned.

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Rudy Giuliani also testified before the Georgia grand jury and apparently claimed his privileges under the Fifth Amendment. Giuliani was subpoenaed by the D.C. grand jury and fought to avoid testifying on attorney/client grounds and also lost that attempt in D.C. federal courts. Last week, Giuliani apparently gave up his lengthy attempts to avoid testifying before the grand jury and met with prosecutors from the special counsel's office to give a "proffer" of potential testimony he might give to the grand jury. A proffer is usually offered by suspects facing indictments of their own in an attempt to avoid prosecution altogether, or to make a deal with prosecutors to reduce charges. Prosecutors generally will not take a proffer from a potential witness unless that witness has evidence against the real target of their investigation, in this case, Defendant Trump.

The verbiage spewed by those jaws back in 2020 is coming back to bite his own capacious ass.

Prosecutors are known to have questioned Giuliani about the fake elector scheme, as well as about a meeting held by Defendant Trump in the Oval Office on Dec. 18, 2020, with Giuliani, lawyer and conspiracy-monger Sidney Powell and former national security adviser Michael Flynn, during which Flynn and Powell pitched a plan to have the U.S. military seize voting machines and oversee a new election — in effect, a plan for a military coup. This is yet another time that Defendant Trump is known to have spoken with others about plans to commit a felony in an attempt to overturn the election. Late at night after the December Oval Office meeting, Trump sent out his infamous tweet urging his millions of followers to come to Washington on Jan. 6, the date of the certification of electoral ballots by Congress. "Be there, will be WILD!" the tweet concluded.

The other witness set to give testimony to the D.C. grand jury is Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who spoke to Defendant Trump on the phone on Jan. 2, 2021, when the former president told Raffensperger, "I just want you to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have. Because we won the state." Present in the Oval Office for the phone call with Raffensperger were Trump lawyers Giuliani and Eastman, another lawyer, Cleta Mitchell, as well as White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, who is known to have testified before the D.C. grand jury. Both Eastman and Mitchell have been subpoenaed by the grand jury. It is unknown if they testified.

So that is where the special counsel investigation of Defendant Trump stands with respect to potential charges for attempting to overturn the 2020 election. Smith has focused on people known to have spoken with Defendant Trump about the fake elector scheme, as well as about other conspiracies to overturn the election. Prosecutors have the John Eastman memo laying out plans for the fake elector scheme, and they have either spoken to or taken testimony from at least three people who either spoke personally to Defendant Trump about the scheme or spoke to him on the phone about it.

So the man who for decades prided himself on never committing anything to paper, email or texts, has found himself trapped by his own words, spoken out loud to several co-conspirators about committing the felony of interfering with the legitimate functions of the federal government, in this case, the certification of electoral ballots and the awarding of the presidency jointly by the Senate and House on Jan. 6. 

The special counsel may or may not be able to tie Defendant Trump directly and personally to the insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6 that attempted to interfere with the certification of electoral ballots that day, but there are increasingly dire indications that Defendant Trump himself will end up having given the verbal evidence which leads to his indictment and possible conviction for having attempted to overturn the election of 2020. 

By Lucian K. Truscott IV

Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist and screenwriter. He has covered stories such as Watergate, the Stonewall riots and wars in Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels and several unsuccessful motion pictures. He has three children, lives in rural Pennsylvania and spends his time Worrying About the State of Our Nation and madly scribbling in a so-far fruitless attempt to Make Things Better. You can read his daily columns at and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

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