Jan. 6 Committee Refers Criminal Charges for Donald Trump

Jan. 6 Committee Refers Criminal Charges for Donald Trump

Former President Donald Trump was submitted to the Department of Justice on at least four felony offenses arising from the violent January 6 insurgency.

The January 6 committee used its last public meeting on Monday to conclude its 17-month inquiry with a simple concluding statement: All roads lead to Donald Trump.

Members focused on how the previous president’s direct involvement in efforts to reverse the 2020 election makes him culpable for the violence that occurred on January 6, 2021, in the US Capitol, and unsuitable to occupy future office.

The committee presented evidence to both the public and the Justice Department that there is enough evidence to pursue criminal charges against Trump under a variety of statutes, including obstructing an official proceeding, defrauding the United States, making false statements, and assisting or aiding an insurgency.

On Monday, the committee issued an executive summary of its findings, and it aims to release the complete report, as well as transcripts of committee interviews, on Wednesday.

The following are key takeaways from the committee’s last public meeting:

The committee refers Trump to the Department of Justice

The committee debated whether to submit Trump to the Justice Department for criminal prosecution for months.

The committee was unequivocal on Monday.

The committee recommended Trump to the Department of Justice on at least four criminal accusations, while stating in its executive summary that it had evidence of prospective charges of conspiring to hurt or obstruct an officer and seditious conspiracy.

In practice, the recommendation serves mostly as a symbolic measure. It does not necessitate action by the Justice Department, and nonetheless, Attorney General Merrick Garland has already appointed a special counsel, Jack Smith, to handle two Trump-related investigations, including the January 6 probe.

However, the official criminal referrals and the release of the January 6 committee’s report this week highlight how much the January 6 committee dug up and exposed in the run-up to January 6. The ball is now in the hands of the Justice Department.

Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat who chairs the committee, stated that he has “every confidence that the work of this committee will help provide a road map to justice, and that the agencies and institutions responsible for ensuring justice under the law will use the information we’ve provided to aid in their work.”

Every road leads to Trump

Committee members frequently emphasized Trump’s personal involvement in practically every aspect of the larger scheme to derail the 2020 election, with a particular emphasis on his engagement in the January 6 violence.

Monday’s presentation was a powerful concluding volley for the committee, which said Trump was attempting to undermine “the cornerstone of American democracy.”

“Donald Trump broke that faith. He lost the 2020 election and knew it. But he chose to try to stay in office through a multi-part scheme to overturn the results and block the transfer of power,” Thompson explained. “In the end, he summoned a mob to Washington, and knowing they were armed and angry, pointed them at the Capitol and told them to ‘fight like hell.’ There’s no doubt about this.”

The panel specifically stated that Trump “oversaw” the legally dubious effort to put forward phony slates of electors in seven states he lost, claiming that evidence shows he actively worked to “transmit false Electoral College ballots to Congress and the National Archives” despite concerns among his lawyers that doing so could be illegal.

Members emphasized that Trump was aware that the election had not been stolen, yet he continued to make bogus assertions about widespread voting fraud in an attempt to undermine Joe Biden’s lawful victory.

Once again, the committee relies on video to make its case against Trump

To build its argument against Trump, the committee relied once again on video, a powerful and memorable technique that it has utilized throughout its hearings with closed-door witness testimony and heartbreaking footage from the savage attack on the Capitol.

Near the start of the hearing, the committee played a 10-minute-plus video montage outlining all of the committee’s allegations against Trump, from witnesses saying Trump was told he lost the election by his aides to the former president’s failure to act on January 6 as the Capitol violence unfolded.

The montage walked viewers through Trump’s efforts to overturn his election defeat, demonstrating how his assaults disrupted the lives of election workers and playing body-cam footage of cops attacked by rioters.

A nonpartisan, but one-sided, effort

Rep. Andy Biggs, one of the four GOP legislators summoned by the panel and sent to the House Ethics Committee on Monday, called the committee a “partisan sham” before the meeting. Republican Rep. Troy Nehls, who skipped the committee, labeled it a “partisan witch hunt.”

However, the panel is nonpartisan.

It’s critical to recall where this all began. While Republicans fought over who would be permitted to serve on the panel, House Democrats were ready to award committee seats to GOP legislators who had actually voted to overturn the 2020 election results. Instead, Republicans walked out.

Rep. Liz Cheney, the No. 3 House Republican at the time, and Adam Kinzinger, a six-term legislator and rising star in the party, agreed to join the panel. They both took GOP staff members who worked on the committee with them.

Cheney and Kinzinger, to be true, are outliers in their caucus because they are anti-Trump. And that is at the heart of Trump’s criticisms of the committee: it is packed with Trump detractors. Even if they disagree with Trump, Cheney and Kinzinger remain staunch Republicans.

Kinzinger outlined how his House GOP colleagues were participating in Trump’s efforts to reverse the election during Monday’s session. He cited evidence that Trump directed top Justice Department officials to “put the facade of legitimacy” for his voting fraud charges so that “Republican congressmen … can distort and destroy and create doubt” about the 2020 election results.

Whatever Trump and his supporters say, Democrats will always be able to claim that the panel’s findings, conclusions, final report, and criminal referrals are nonpartisan.

 

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