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As Jan. 6 Panel Refers Donald Trump For Criminal Prosecution, Senate Democrats See Risks To Bringing Charges

A House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the Capitol asked federal prosecutors Monday to charge Donald Trump with four crimes, including obstruction and rioting, for his role in sparking the Jan. 6 assault.    

While members of a House special committee that convened Jan. 6 are ramping up their pressure on federal prosecutors to bring charges against Trump, Senate Democrats are taking a more measured approach, with some saying that the bar is higher for pursuing charges against former presidents.

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) acknowledged the political risks of charging the former president, who still has a powerful following in the GOP, but warned there were potentially adverse consequences of not holding Trump, a former president, to account for his actions.   

Trump with wife Melania

“We understand the gravity of each and every referral we are making today, just as we understand the magnitude of the crime against democracy that we describe in our report,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., who was in charge of the Jan. 6 subcommittee that examined referrals. “But we have gone where the facts and the law lead us, and inescapably they lead us here.” 

The House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol The Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol recommended the Department of Justice pursue at least four criminal charges against Trump related to his alleged efforts to interfere in transferring presidential powers, in a historic but mostly symbolic move, marking the first time that a former president has been the subject of a congressional criminal referral.

As lawmakers wrap up one of the most comprehensive and aggressive congressional investigations in recent memory, a House panel on Jan. 6 recommended that criminal charges be brought against former President Donald Trump and associates who helped him mount a multifaceted pressure campaign to try to reverse his loss in the 2020 election.    

The January 6 committee urges the Department of Justice to review a range of charges against former President Donald Trump, including conspiracy to defraud the federal government; obstruction of official proceedings (in this case congressional certification of electoral votes); conspiracy to make a false statement; and inciting or aiding the commission of insurrection.

At its last meeting on Monday, the committee said that Trump had violated four criminal statutes, in both the lead-up to the riots and during the insurrection itself, when it recommended that Trump be prosecuted at the Justice Department. 

The committee’s report named additional Trump associates—including former Justice Department official Geoffrey Clarke, former White House chief of staff and House member Mark Meadows, and two attorneys, Kenneth Chesebro and Rudy Giuliani—who were involved in conspiracies that the panel linked to Donald Trump.    

The committee also highlighted in its summary two prominent witnesses—Ivanka Trump and Kayleigh McEnany, the then-White House press secretary—as being less cooperative than others. Monday’s hearing by a Jan. 6 House panel that included seven Democrats and two Republican critics of Donald Trump is likely to mark Congress’ last effort to impeach the former president over attacks at the Capitol by hundreds of his loyalists while elected officials worked to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 election. 

“The Committee believes there is sufficient evidence for a criminal referral of the multi-part plan described in this Report …  as the very purpose of the plan was to prevent the lawful certification of Joe Biden’s election as President,” the executive summary stated.

“These folks don’t get it that when they come after me, people who love freedom rally around me. It strengthens me. What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger,” Trump said in a statement posted on his social network Truth Social, calling the criminal referral “a partisan attempt to sideline me and the Republican Party.”

Cover Photo: VoA

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