The House January 6 committee is wrapping up its investigation into the violent 2021 U.S. Capitol insurrection, and lawmakers are expected to wrap up one of the most extensive and aggressive congressional investigations in living memory with One extraordinary recommendation: The Justice Department should consider criminal charges against the former president. Donald Trump.
In a final meeting Monday, the panel’s seven Democrats and two Republicans are set to recommend criminal charges against Trump and potentially against associates and staff who helped him launch a multifaceted lobbying campaign to try to overturn the 2020 election.
While a criminal remand is mostly symbolic, as the Justice Department ultimately decides whether to prosecute Trump or others, it is a decisive end to an investigation that had an almost singular focus from the start.
“I think the president has violated multiple criminal laws and I think he should be treated like any other American who breaks the law, and that’s what should be prosecuted,” said Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., a member of the panel. he said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Set to disband on Jan. 3 with the new Republican-led House, the panel has conducted more than 1,000 interviews, held 10 closely followed public hearings and collected more than a million documents since its launch in July 2021. has assembled Faced with the enormous trove of evidence, members have emboldened themselves to declare that Trump is to blame for the violent attack on the Capitol by his supporters nearly two years ago.
After besting the police, injuring many of them, the January 6 rioters stormed the Capitol and disrupted President Joe Biden’s victory certification, echoing Trump’s lies about widespread voter fraud and sending legislators and others to run for their lives.
The attack came after weeks of attempts by Trump to undo his defeat, a campaign the committee detailed at length in its multiple public hearings. Many of Trump’s former aides testified about his unprecedented pressure on states, federal officials and Vice President Mike Pence to find a way to thwart the popular will.
“This is someone who tried to pressure state officials in multiple ways to find votes that didn’t exist, this is someone who tried to interfere with a joint session, including inciting a mob to attack the Capitol,” Schiff said. “If that’s not criminal, then I don’t know what is.”
Committee members have said referrals for other people can also include ethics violations, legal misconduct and campaign finance violations. Lawmakers have suggested in particular that the recommended charges against Trump could include conspiracy to defraud the United States, obstruction of an official congressional proceeding and insurrection.
On the insurrection, Schiff said Sunday that “if you look at the acts of Donald Trump and compare them to the statute, it’s a very good combination.” He said the committee will focus on those people, presumably Trump, for whom they believe the strongest evidence exists.
While an alleged criminal reference has no real legal value, it is a forceful statement from the committee and adds to the political pressure already being brought to bear on Attorney General Merrick Garland and Special Counsel Jack Smith, who are investigating on January 6. and Trump’s actions. .
The committee is also expected to present at the hearing a preview of its massive final report, which will include findings, interview transcripts and legislative recommendations. Lawmakers have said the report will be released on Monday.
“Obviously we want to complete the story for the American people,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., another member of the committee. “Everyone has come on a journey with us, and we want a successful conclusion, so that people feel that Congress has done its job.”
The panel was formed in the summer of 2021 after Senate Republicans blocked the formation of what would have been an independent, bipartisan commission to investigate the insurrection. That opposition prompted the Democratic-controlled House to form a committee of its own. House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy of California, a Trump ally, opted out after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rejected some of her nominations. That left an opportunity for two anti-Trump Republicans in the House, Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, to join the seven Democrats on the committee.
While the committee’s mission was to give a comprehensive account of the insurrection and educate the public about what happened, they also directed their work to an audience of one: the attorney general. Lawmakers on the panel have openly pushed Garland to investigate Trump’s actions, and last month he appointed a special counsel, Smith, to oversee various Trump-related investigations, including those involving the insurrection.
In court documents earlier this year, the committee suggested that criminal charges against Trump could include conspiracy to defraud the United States and obstruction of an official congressional proceeding.
In a “conspiracy to defraud the United States,” the committee argues that the evidence supports the inference that Trump and his allies “cut a deal to defraud the United States” when they spread misinformation about voter fraud and pressured state and federal officials to help. in that effort. Trump still says that he won the election to this day.
The panel also claims that Trump obstructed an official proceeding, the joint session of Congress in which Electoral College votes are certified. The committee said Trump tried or succeeded in obstructing, influencing or impeding the January 6 ceremonial process and “did so in a corrupt manner” by pressuring Pence to try to overturn the results while he was presiding over the session. Pence refused to do so.
The committee can make ethics referrals for five House Republicans, including McCarthy, who ignored the panel’s congressional subpoenas. Those references are unlikely to result in punishment, as Republicans will take a majority in the House in January.
For full coverage of the January 6 hearings, visit https://www.apnews.com/capitol-siege