Trump should face insurrection, obstruction charges, US Capitol riot panel says


WASHINGTON: For his part in starting the deadly riot on January 6, 2021, the US House of Representatives panel investigating the attack on the Capitol requested on Monday that federal prosecutors charge Donald Trump with four offenses, including obstruction and insurrection.

After more than 1,000 witness interviews and the collection of hundreds of thousands of documents, the Democratic-led select committee’s request to the Justice Department marked the first time in history that Congress referred a former president for criminal prosecution.

Although the request does not obligate federal prosecutors to act, it comes at a time when a special counsel is in charge of two additional federal investigations into Trump that are related to the Republican’s attempt to overturn his defeat in the 2020 election and the removal of classified documents from the White House.

The committee requested that the Justice Department file charges against Trump for the following four alleged crimes: deterrent of an authority continuing of Congress, scheme to swindle the US, offering bogus expressions, and helping or actuating a rebellion.

“A rebellion against the United States’ authority is an insurrection. As he announced the charges, Democratic select committee member Representative Jamie Raskin stated, “It is a grave federal offense, anchored in the Constitution itself.”

The US House Select Committee investigating the January 6 Attack on the US Capitol announces criminal referrals against former US President Donald Trump being sent to the US Justice Department during the final meeting of the US House Select Committee investigating the January 6 Attack on the US Capitol, on Capitol Hill in Washington, US, December 19, 2022. — Reuters

A spokesperson for the Justice Department declined to comment. A request for clarification was not answered by a Trump spokesperson.

The morning of January 6, Trump gave a passionate speech to his supporters near the White House. In it, he publicly criticized Mike Pence, his vice president, for not supporting his plan to reject votes cast in favor of Democrat Joe Biden. After that, Trump waited for hours to make a public statement while thousands of his supporters stormed the Capitol, assaulting law enforcement and threatening to hang Vice President Mike Pence.

The nine-member panel that spent 18 months investigating the unprecedented attempt to prevent the peaceful transfer of power by thousands of Trump supporters motivated by his false claims that his 2020 election loss to Biden was the result of widespread fraud held its final public meeting on Monday.

The committee’s chair, Representative Bennie Thompson, criticized Trump for bringing the mob to the Capitol and for reiterating false allegations of fraud, both of which undermined confidence in the democratic process.

“Our democracy is at risk if the faith is violated. That faith was broken by Donald Trump,” Thompson stated.

Ethics referral for house republicans

Additionally, the committee stated that it referred four Republican House members, including the popular candidate for speaker Kevin McCarthy, to the ethics committee of the chamber for failing to comply with subpoenas as it investigated the attack.

Scott Perry, Jim Jordan, and Andy Biggs were the other three representatives who were summoned to testify. Jordan, Perry, and Biggs’s spokespersons dismissed the incident as political stunts. McCarthy’s office didn’t answer a solicitation for input.

It is unlikely that Republicans, who take over the House on January 3, will oppose members of their own leadership.

Tear gas is released into a crowd of protesters, with one wielding a Confederate battle flag that reads “Come and Take It,” during clashes with Capitol police at a rally to contest the certification of the 2020 US presidential election results by the US Congress, at the US Capitol Building in Washington, US, January 6, 2021. — Reuters

Trump has already started a campaign to run for president again in 2024 and win the Republican nomination.

Over 140 police officers were injured, and five people, including a police officer, died during or shortly after the incident. Damages totaling millions of dollars were done to the Capitol.

“One of the most shameful findings of this committee was that President Trump sat in the dining room off the Oval Office, watching the violent riot at the Capitol on television,” stated Representative Liz Cheney, one of the two Republicans on the committee and its vice chairperson.

Multiple investigations

A summary of the committee’s report also stated that the panel believed there was sufficient evidence to recommend criminal charges against some other Trump associates, such as attorney John Eastman.

It also mentioned other people who are associated with Trump, like former Department of Justice official Jeffrey Clark, former White House Chief of Staff and House member Mark Meadows, and two lawyers, Kenneth Chesebro and Rudy Giuliani, as being involved in conspiracies that the panel is claiming are connected to Trump.

Eastman’s attorney issued a statement in response, labeling the committee as partisan. The others’ representatives either declined to comment or did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

For their part in the attack, members of the right-wing Oath Keepers militia have already been found guilty by a jury of sedition.

Since he stepped down as president on January 20, 2021, he has been plagued by a number of legal issues. On December 6, his real estate company was found guilty of participating in a 15-year criminal scheme to defraud tax authorities.

Numerous investigations have been dismissed by Trump as being politically motivated. After being impeached for the second time last year but ultimately acquitted in the Senate, he stated on Monday that any prosecution would mean that he was being wrongly charged twice.

Trump stated on his Truth Social platform, “The Fake charges made by the highly partisan Unselect Committee of January 6th have already been submitted, prosecuted, and tried in the form of Impeachment Hoax # 2.”

Hours into the riot, Trump issued a video statement pleading with rioters to return home and expressing his love for them. “These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away,” he wrote in a tweet after that.

The charge recommendation was unanimously approved by the select committee, which consisted of seven Democrats and two Republicans.

The House Ways and Means Committee will meet on Tuesday to decide what to do with Trump’s tax returns, which it got at the end of last month after a long legal battle. Trump was the first presidential candidate in decades to withhold tax returns from the public during either of his campaigns.

Source: Reuters

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