Jan. 6 Panel Plans Vote on Referring Trump for Insurrection and Other Charges
WASHINGTON — The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol plans on Monday to vote on issuing criminal referrals against former President Donald J. Trump for insurrection and at least two other charges, according to a person familiar with the matter who was not authorized to discuss it.
It had been widely expected the panel would recommend charges against Mr. Trump for obstructing an official proceeding of Congress and conspiracy to defraud the United States. The panel’s members had already argued in federal court that they believed it was likely that he committed those two felonies. But the addition of an accusation of insurrection was a new development.
The House impeached Mr. Trump last year for incitement of insurrection, and the members of the panel have long argued Mr. Trump was the central figure who fomented an insurrection against the United States as he sought to cling to power. Politico earlier reported that a charge of insurrection would be considered.
Representative Jamie Raskin, Democrat of Maryland and a member of the Jan. 6 committee tasked with studying possible criminal referrals, was the lead impeachment manager against Mr. Trump on the count of incitement of insurrection.
Referrals against Mr. Trump, which the committee is slated to approve as part of its report, would not carry any legal weight or compel the Justice Department to take any action, but they would send a powerful signal that a congressional committee believes the former president committed certain crimes.
Understand the Events on Jan. 6
- Timeline: On Jan. 6, 2021, 64 days after Election Day 2020, a mob of supporters of President Donald J. Trump raided the Capitol. Here is a close look at how the attack unfolded.
- A Day of Rage: Using thousands of videos and police radio communications, a Times investigation reconstructed in detail what happened — and why.
- Lost Lives: A bipartisan Senate report found that at least seven people died in connection with the attack.
- Jan. 6 Attendees: To many of those who attended the Trump rally but never breached the Capitol, that date wasn’t a dark day for the nation. It was a new start.
In a statement, Steven Cheung, a spokesman for Mr. Trump, dismissed the panel as a “kangaroo court” that held “show trials by Never Trump partisans who are a stain on this country’s history.”
The committee also was set to consider whether to issue criminal and civil referrals for some of Mr. Trump’s top allies during a meeting scheduled for Monday as it prepares to release a voluminous report laying out its findings about the attempt to overturn the 2020 election.
Members also were expected to discuss the forthcoming report and recommendations for legislative changes.
Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi and the chairman of the committee, has said the panel was considering referrals to “five or six” different entities, including the Justice Department, the House Ethics Committee, the Federal Election Commission and bar associations.
In the case of Mr. Trump, an official finding that a former president should be prosecuted for violating the law would be a rare step for the legislative branch to take.
In addition to the former president, the panel is likely to consider referring charges against John Eastman, a conservative lawyer who was an architect of Mr. Trump’s efforts to invalidate his electoral defeat. The committee has argued in court that Mr. Eastman most likely violated two federal laws for his role in the scheme, including obstructing an official act of Congress and defrauding the American public.
The charge of obstructing Congress stems from the bid by Mr. Trump, conceived of by Mr. Eastman and others, to disrupt Congress’s official count of electoral votes to certify the results of the presidential election. The count was brought to an abrupt halt when supporters of Mr. Trump violently stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, sending lawmakers and the vice president fleeing for their lives.
The fraud charge pertains to the former president’s spreading of the lie that he was the true winner of the 2020 election, even after he was told repeatedly that he had lost and, by some accounts, acknowledged privately that he knew it.
The panel also plans to release a portion of its eight-chapter final report into the effort to block the peaceful transfer of power from Mr. Trump to Joseph R. Biden Jr. The committee’s full report is scheduled for release on Wednesday. Additional attachments and transcripts are expected to be released before the end of the year, according to a committee aide who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the plans in advance.