WASHINGTON (AP) — The Jan. 6 House committee is wrapping up its investigation into the 2021 Capitol violent insurrection, with lawmakers expected to close one of the most comprehensive and aggressive congressional investigations ever with an extraordinary recommendation: the Department of Justice must consider criminal charges against former President Donald Trump.
In a final meeting on Monday, the panel’s seven Democrats and two Republicans are poised to recommend criminal charges against Trump and possibly associates and collaborators who helped him launch a multifaceted pressure campaign to try to overturn the 2020 election. to make.
While a criminal referral is usually symbolic, with the Justice Department ultimately deciding 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 you should be treated like any other American who breaks the law, and that is you should be prosecuted,” Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., a member of the panel, said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
The panel, which will disband on Jan. 3 with the new Republican-led House, has conducted more than 1,000 interviews since its launch in July 2021, held 10 high-profile public hearings, and collected more than a million documents. The sheer amount of evidence has encouraged members to declare Trump responsible for the violent attack on the Capitol by his supporters nearly two years ago.
After fighting their way past police and wounding many of them, the January 6 rioters stormed the Capitol and interrupted the certification of President Joe Biden’s victory, echoing Trump’s lies about widespread election fraud and sending of legislators and others who ran for their lives.
The attack came after weeks of efforts by Trump to undo his defeat — a campaign that the committee detailed 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 will of the people.
“This is someone who has tried in multiple ways to pressure state officials to find votes that didn’t exist, this is someone who tried to disrupt a joint session and even incited a mob to attack the Capitol,” Schiff said. “If that isn’t criminal, then I don’t know what is.”
Members of the committee have said the references for other individuals may include ethics violations, legal misconduct and campaign finance violations. In particular, lawmakers have suggested that their recommended charges against Trump could include conspiracy to defraud the United States, obstruction of official Congressional proceedings, and insurrection.
On the uprising, Schiff said on Sunday that “when you look at Donald Trump’s actions and compare them to the statute, it’s a pretty good match.” He said the commission will focus on those individuals — presumably Trump — for whom they believe there is the strongest evidence.
While a so-called criminal referral has no real legal standing, it is a strong statement by the commission and adds to the political pressure on Attorney General Merrick Garland and Special Prosecutor Jack Smith, who is investigating January 6 and the actions by Trump. .
The committee is also expected to preview its massive final report at the hearing, which will include findings, interview transcripts and legislative recommendations. The lawmaker has said the report will be released on Monday.
“We clearly 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 satisfying close so that people feel like 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 a bipartisan, independent commission to investigate the uprising. That opposition spurred the Democrat-controlled House to form its own committee. House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy of California, a Trump ally, decided not to participate after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rejected some of his nominations. That left an opening for two anti-Trump Republicans in the House — Representatives Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois — to join the seven Democrats serving on the committee.
While the commission’s mission was to create a comprehensive account of the uprising and educate the public about what happened, they also focused their work on an audience of one: the Attorney General. Lawmakers on the panel have openly pressured Garland to investigate Trump’s actions, and last month he appointed a special counsel, Smith, to oversee several investigations related to Trump, including those related to the insurgency.
In court filings earlier this year, the commission suggested criminal charges against Trump may include conspiracy to defraud the United States and obstruction of official Congressional proceedings.
In a “conspiracy to defraud the United States,” the commission says evidence supports the conclusion that Trump and his allies “entered into an agreement to defraud the United States” when they spread misinformation about electoral fraud and state and federal officials among pressure to aid in that effort. Trump still says he won the election to this day.
The panel also alleges that Trump obstructed an official procedure, the joint session of Congress in which the votes of the Electoral College are certified. The committee said that Trump attempted or succeeded in obstructing, interfering or impeding the ceremonial process on January 6 and that he corruptly did so by pressuring Pence to try to reverse the results while he chaired the session. Pence refused to do this.
The committee may make ethics references for five House Republicans — including McCarthy — who ignored congressional subpoenas from the panel. Those referrals are unlikely to lead to a penalty as Republicans will take over the majority in the House in January.
For a full report of the January 6 hearings, visit https://www.apnews.com/capitol-siege