House Jan. 6 Committee Votes To Refer Trump To DOJ For Criminal Charges

After over a year of hearings that seemed to lead nowhere, the House Jan. 6 committee has decided to vote to refer criminal charges targeting Donald Trump to the Department of Justice.

The criminal referral and potential prosecution for trying to overturn the 2020 election accuse former President Trump of obstructing an official proceeding, conspiracy to defraud the government, and inciting or assisting an insurrection.

In an address to his fellow panel members, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) said the committee was advancing referrals where “the gravity of the specific offense, the severity of its actual harm, and the centrality of the offender to the overall design of the unlawful scheme to overthrow the election” compel them to speak.

The panel also made referrals for the possible prosecution of five allies of Trump: chief of staff Mark Meadows and lawyers Rudolph Giuliani, John Eastman, Jeffrey Clark, and Kenneth Chesebro.

The referrals do not carry any legal weight and are merely advisory in nature, with the decision resting on the Department of Justice, which has its own parallel Jan. 6 investigation underway.

The Jan. 6 committee was approved on June 30, 2021. The Democrats were unified in their support for the committee but only two Republicans joined their ranks, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo) and Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.).

Under the resolution, the Speaker was required to appoint 13 Members to the Select Committee, 5 of whom were to “be appointed after consultation with the minority leader.”

House minority leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) presented House Speaker Nancy Pelosi with five nominees to the panel. Pelosi refused to accept two out of the five: Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), both of whom, Pelosi said, were too close to President Trump to remain neutral.

After Pelosi rejected Banks and Jordan, McCarthy retracted all five of his nominations, saying Pelosi had committed an “unprecedented step of denying the minority party’s picks for the Select Committee on Jan. 6,” which, McCarthy said, “presents an egregious abuse of power and will irreparably damage this institution.”

Pelosi ended up taking the two Republicans who had voted for the commission – Cheney and Kinzinger.

Critics believe these maneuvers by Pelosi make the entire panel illegitimate for several reasons: Firstly because the panel has only nine members instead of 13 members; secondly, because the panel has no “ranking member,” as had been called for in the resolution and thirdly, because the Republicans on the committee were not ones recommended by the Republican leader, McCarthy.