Rep. Bennie Thompson and the rest of the Jan. 6 Committee delivered a stern rebuke of former President Donald Trump. Now it’s up to the Department of Justice, led by Attorney General Merrick Garland. Monday’s referrals were just advisory, they are not binding.
Nearly two years after supporters of former President Donald Trump descended on the Capitol, steps could be finally taken toward accountability. In his opening statement, Thompson said that while the committee’s work was ending, there was still a long road ahead for the nation.
“We remain in strange and unchartered waters,” Thompson said. “We’ve never had a president of the United States stir up a violent attempt to block the transfer of power. I believe nearly two years later, this is still a time of reflection and reckoning.”
The Democrat from Mississippi explained the purpose of the report, calling it a “road map to justice” for the entities authorized to take direct action.
“If we are to survive as a nation of laws and democracy, this can never happen again,” he said. “Beyond our findings, we will also show that evidence we’ve gathered points to further action beyond the power of this committee or the Congress to help ensure accountability on the law. Accountability that can only be found in the criminal justice system.”
Leading up to the insurrection, Trump insisted on repeating disproven allegations of widespread election fraud. According to the committee, he also pressured the DOJ to pursue unfounded claims long after the 2020 election ended.
From their review of all the available evidence and testimony, the committee recommended four charges against Trump:
- Obstruction of an Official Proceeding
- Conspiracy to Defraud the United States
- Conspiracy to Make a False Statement
- and “Incite,” “Assist” or “Aid and Comfort” an Insurrection.
The committee released a 160-page executive summary of the final report. A more detailed report will drop later in the week, right before Christmas. But the “shorter” summary details what evidence and testimony the committee considered.
As outlined by the report, the authority for the committee came from House Resolution 503, which mandated that the committee would “investigate and report upon the facts, circumstances, and causes relating to the January 6, 2021, domestic terrorist attack upon the United States Capitol Complex” and to “issue a final report” containing “findings, conclusions, and recommendations for corrective measures.”
The Select Committee has conducted nine public hearings, presenting testimony from more than 70 witnesses. In structuring our investigation and hearings, we began with President Trump’s contentions that the election was stolen and took testimony from nearly all of the President’s principal advisors on this topic. We focused on the rulings of more than 60 Federal and State courts rejecting President Trump’s and his supporters’ efforts to reverse the electoral outcome.
Despite the rulings of these courts, we understood that millions of Americans still lack the information necessary to understand and evaluate what President Trump has told them about the election. For that reason, our hearings featured a number of members of President Trump’s inner circle refuting his fraud claims and testifying that the election was not, in fact, stolen. In all, the Committee displayed the testimony of more than four dozen Republicans—by far the majority of witnesses in our hearings—including two of President Trump’s former Attorneys General, his former White House Counsel, numerous members of his White House staff, and the highest-ranking members of his 2020 election campaign, including his campaign manager and his campaign general counsel. Even key individuals who worked closely with President Trump to try to overturn the 2020 election on January 6th ultimately admitted that they lacked actual evidence sufficient to change the election result, and they admitted that what they were attempting was unlawful
In addition to the criminal referrals, the committee recommended House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy and Reps. Jim Jordan, Scott Perry and Andy Biggs face discipline in the House for failure to comply with subpoenas. According to the committee, this falls within the purview of the House Committee on Ethics.
“If President Trump and the associates who assisted him in an effort to overturn the lawful outcome of the 2020 election are not ultimately held accountable under the law, their behavior may become a precedent and invitation to danger for future elections,” read the report. “A failure to hold them accountable now may ultimately lead to future unlawful efforts to overturn our elections, thereby threatening the security and viability of our Republic.”
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