A video image of former US president Donald Trump is seen on a screen during a House Select Committee hearing to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the US Capitol (Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
Members of the House committee investigating the Capitol riot on 6 January say they have unearthed enough evidence for the Justice Department to consider a criminal indictment of former President Donald Trump for attempting to overturn the 2020 election results.
Last week, the committee held its first public hearing, with members laying out their case against Trump, demonstrating how the defeated president continued to push false claims of a rigged election despite multiple advisers telling him otherwise.
On election night, Trump’s closest campaign advisers, senior government officials, and even his family were debunking his false claims of voter fraud, but the defeated president was becoming "detached from reality," clinging to outlandish theories to stay in power.
The legislative investigation into the Capitol incident, however, has been dubbed a "Kangaroo Court" by the former US President.
He claimed the investigation was launched to divert attention away from the "disaster" of Democratic-led governance in a 12-page statement.
But what is a ‘Kangaroo Court’? What does Trump mean?
Here is everything you need to know.
What is a Kangaroo Court?
A kangaroo court is a court that disregards established rules of law or justice, has little or no official status in the region where it sits, and is usually convened on the spur of the moment.
A kangaroo court may disregard due process and reach a hasty, predetermined decision, and the phrase can also refer to a court that is held by a valid judicial body but ignores its legal or ethical commitments.
The Volksgerichtshof (People’s Court) of Nazi Germany, which convicted people suspected of being engaged in the failed plan to assassinate Hitler on 20 July 1944, is one of the most famous examples of a Kangaroo Court.
Where does the phrase come from?
The Oxford English Dictionary lists ‘A Stray Yankee in Texas’ by Philip Paxton, published in 1853, as the first documented occurrence of the word.
There are, however, earlier uses of the term, such as an 1841 story in New Orleans’ The Daily Picayune, which quotes another journal, the Concordia Intelligencer, reporting three lynchings "on charges of the Kangaroo court."
According to some historians, the phrase gained popularity during the 1849 California Gold Rush, which drew tens of thousands of Australians to American shores.
It may have evolved as a description of the quickly carried-out proceedings used to deal with the issue of claim-jumping miners as a result of the Australian miners’ presence.
Another hypothesis is that these tribunals are dubbed kangaroo courts because they are frequently summoned swiftly to deal with an urgent issue - i.e. they "jumped out" out of nowhere, like a kangaroo.
What does it mean in sports?
Sometimes the phrase is used without a negative meaning.
Many Major League Baseball (MLB) teams, for example, have a kangaroo court to discipline players for on-field errors, as well as being late for a game or practise, not wearing suitable gear to games, or having an untidy locker in the clubhouse.
Fines are imposed, and the money collected is donated to charity at the conclusion of the season (or used for a team party).
What has Trump said?
On 6 January 2021, Trump supporters stormed Congress in an attempt to prevent Joe Biden’s election victory from being certified.
More than 800 people have since been arrested in nearly every state as part of a separate criminal probe.
The "unselect pseudo-committee," alluding to the Democratic-led House of Representatives select committee that has been investigating the matter for the past year, was accused of treason by Trump.
Trump rehashed his unfounded claims of voter fraud for most of his statement: since the November 2020 election, a handful of such cases have been prosecuted, each representing a small number of ballots, but none on a scale that could have swung the election either way.
On the second day of public hearings, the House committee was shown video testimony from former campaign manager Bill Stepien, who claimed that the aides had divided into two “teams” after the election.
He distinguished between "team normal," which accepted the election results, and "Rudy’s team," who believed Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani’s charges of election fraud.
Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, tried to steer him away from Giuliani’s far-fetched ideas of voter fraud, which his aides agreed were untrue.