House committee submits criminal referrals of former President Trump to the DOJ
The final meeting of the U.S. House committee investigation of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol unanimously delivered four criminal referrals of former President Donald Trump based on his actions related to the attack.
The referrals, issued at the end of Monday’s (Dec. 19) meeting, are based on four legal statutes: The obstruction of an official proceeding, conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to make materially false statements to the federal government which is related to the attempt to submit a false slate of electors, and to incite, assist, or “aid in comfort” in a rebellion against the U.S. government.
The criminal referrals, issued by the Select Committee to Investigate January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol, are made to the U.S. Department of Justice, but the DOJ has no obligation to act on the referrals.
Former Trump lawyer John Eastman, who devised the plan to interfere with the electoral count, was also criminally referred to the DOJ on the four alleged violations.
More than 2,000 rioters entered the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, following a speech by then-President Donald Trump, who pushed his claims of a fraudulent election and encouraged the crowd to “fight like hell” and march on the Capitol. According to information from Congress and published reports, five people died during and after the attack. Also, around 140 police officers were injured during the attack, and four officers who fought to push back the crowd committed suicide within seven months after the attack. Monetary damages related to the attack are estimated at around $3 million.
Trump also pressured then Vice President Mike Pence to reject legitimate electoral votes for President-elect Joe Biden. Pence refused, and Trump tweeted his displeasure with Pence, which resulted in some of the rioters to chant, “Hang Mike Pence.” Pence, who was in the Capitol when the attack began, was forced to flee to a safe space in the building when it became clear some in the crowd were threatening to kill him.
For more than three hours, Trump resisted numerous requests by his family, advisors and key staff members to make a public plea for the rioters to stand down. The former president also never contacted military or law enforcement officials to discuss efforts to respond to the insurrection.
On Jan. 13, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to impeach Trump for his actions related to the insurrection, making him the only U.S. president to be impeached twice. On Feb. 13, the U.S. Senate voted 57-43 in favor of conviction, but the vote fell short of the 67 votes required to convict.
In his opening remarks, Select Committee Chairman U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said voting is “an act of faith and hope,” and citizens expect that those who participate “accept the rules and abide by the rule of law,” Thompson alleged that Trump tried in a “multi-part scheme” to overturn the results, including gathering a mob in Washington and encouraging them to “fight like hell” and march on the Capitol.
Thompson also announced the committee will release deposition materials related to its final report and make most of its “non-sensitive” documents available by the end of the year. He said the evidence they have gathered requires “accountability” beyond what the committee and Congress are authorized to pursue. Thompson said the committee hopes to seek accountability for all those involved but also challenged citizens to deliver accountability.
“It’s up to the people of this country to decide who deserves the public trust,” he said.
U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., and committee vice chair, said Trump’s behavior in pushing claims of election fraud and his actions on Jan. 6 reflects an “utter moral failure and a clear dereliction of duty.” U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., said there are “hundreds” of criminal offenses related to Jan. 6, but the criminal referrals are based on the “severity of its actual harm” to the “scheme to overthrow the actual election.”
U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Jonesboro, provided this statement: “No serious Congressional investigation has ever been conducted by a group handpicked by only one party leader. Consequently, it is no surprise that the Pelosi kangaroo court has concluded that Republicans are horrible people. My colleagues and I in the new majority will remain focused on the real issues threatening families such as rising crime, soaring prices, and a slowing economy.”
Talk Business & Politics has sought comment from the four House members who represent Arkansas and will update this story when or if they respond.