WASHINGTON– The January 6 Committee of the House of Representatives is concluding its investigation into the violent rioting in the US Capitol in 2021, with lawmakers expected to end one of the most comprehensive and aggressive congressional investigations with an extraordinary recommendation: the Justice Department should consider criminal charges against former President Donald Trump.
At a closing session Monday, the panel’s seven Democrats and two Republicans stand ready to recommend criminal charges against Trump and possibly staff and associates who helped him launch a multifaceted pressure campaign to try to overthrow the 2020 election.
While a criminal referral is mostly symbolic and the Justice Department ultimately decides whether to prosecute Trump or others, it is a crucial end to an investigation that has had an almost unique focus from the start.
“I think the President broke several criminal statutes, and I think you need to be treated like any other American who breaks the law, and that means you need to be prosecuted,” said Rep. Adam Schiff, D- Calif., a member of the panel, said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union.
The panel, which will dissolve on Jan. 3 with the new Republican-led House of Representatives, has conducted more than 1,000 interviews, held 10 well-watched public hearings and amassed more than a million documents since it began in July 2021, given the massive evidence Members are encouraged to blame Trump for his supporters’ violent attack on the Capitol nearly two years ago.
After fighting their way past police and injuring many, the Jan. 6 rioters stormed the Capitol and disrupted confirmation of President Joe Biden’s victory by repeating Trump’s lies about widespread voter fraud and killing lawmakers and others ran.
The attack came after weeks of Trump’s efforts to reverse his defeat – a campaign detailed by the committee in its numerous public hearings. Many of Trump’s former aides have testified about his unprecedented pressure on states, federal officials and Vice President Mike Pence to find a way to thwart the will of the people.
“This is someone who tried in a variety of ways to pressure state officials to find voices that didn’t exist. This is someone who tried to disrupt a joint meeting and even instigated a mob to attack the Capitol,” Schiff said. “If that’s not criminal, then I don’t know what is.”
Committee members have said the references to other individuals may also include ethical violations, legal misconduct and campaign finance violations. Specifically, lawmakers have indicated that charges against Trump it recommends could include conspiracy to defraud the United States, obstruction of an official session of Congress, and insurgency.
Regarding the uprising, Schiff said Sunday, “If you look at Donald Trump’s actions and compare them to the law, it’s a pretty good match.” He said the committee will focus on those individuals — presumably Trump — for whom they believe that there is the strongest evidence.
While a so-called criminal referral has no real legal title, it is a powerful statement by the committee and is already increasing political pressure on Attorney General Merrick Garland and Special Counsel Jack Smith, who are conducting an investigation into January 6 and Trump’s actions.
The committee is also expected at the hearing to preview its comprehensive final report, which will include findings, interview transcripts and legislative recommendations. Lawmakers have said part of that report will be released on Monday.
“We obviously want to complete history for the American people,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., another member of the committee. “Everyone has come with us on a journey and we want a satisfying conclusion so that people feel the Congress has done its job.”
The panel was formed in the summer of 2021 after Senate Republicans blocked the formation of a bipartisan, independent commission to investigate the insurgency. This opposition spurred the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives to form its own committee. Republican House Leader Kevin McCarthy of California, a Trump ally, decided not to attend after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi turned down some of his appointments. That left two anti-Trump Republicans in the House — Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois — to join the seven Democrats who serve on the committee.
While the committee’s job was to provide a comprehensive assessment of the uprising and educate the public about what happened, it also directed its work to a single audience: the Attorney General. Panel lawmakers have openly pressured Garland to investigate Trump’s actions, and last month he appointed a special counsel, Smith, to oversee several Trump-related investigations, including those related to the riot.
In court documents earlier this year, the committee suggested charges against Trump could include conspiracy to defraud the United States and obstructing an official congressional process.
In a “Conspiracy to Defraud the United States,” the committee argues that evidence supports the conclusion that Trump and his allies “entered into an agreement to defraud the United States” as they disseminated misinformation about voter fraud and pressured state and federal officials set out to help them in this effort. To this day, Trump says he won the election.
The panel also alleges that Trump obstructed an official process, the joint session of Congress that certifies electoral college votes. The committee said Trump either attempted or succeeded in obstructing, influencing or obstructing the ceremonial process on Jan. 6 and “did it corruptly” by pressuring Pence to try to get the results to tip while conducting the session. Pence refused.
The committee can issue ethics recommendations for five House Republicans — including McCarthy — who have ignored congressional subpoenas from the panel. These reprimands are unlikely to result in punishment as Republicans will take control of the House of Representatives in January.
Associated Press contributors Eric Tucker, Farnoush Amiri, and Lisa Mascaro contributed to this report.
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https://abc7.com/jan-6-hearings-today-committee-donald-trump-january/12589525/ The January 6 committee brings the indictment of former President Donald Trump to a powerful conclusion