In a historic but largely symbolic action, The House select committee looking into the assault on the U.S. Capitol recommended the DOJ pursue at least four criminal charges against former President Trump related to his alleged efforts to stop the transfer of presidential power.
The panel’s seven Democrats and two Republicans unanimously agreed Monday during its final open meeting to adopt its final report and recommend that the D.O.J. file charges against Trump for obstruction of justice, conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to make false statements, and incitement to rebellion or insurrection. According to the panel’s summary of the findings, based on potential evidence gathered by the Justice Department, Trump’s conduct may also constitute violations of two more conspiracy statutes.
The nine members of the panel also voted to refer several of Trump’s supporters, including Jeffrey Clark, a Justice Department official who wrote a letter urging officials to appoint Trump slates of electors, and John Eastman, a conservative attorney who devised the legal plan for then Vice President Pence to unilaterally overturn state Electoral College votes on January 6.
The committee stated in its executive summary that “even if it were true that President Trump honestly believed the election was stolen, there is no defense.” No president, whatever of the purported “justification” they offer, is allowed to willfully disregard the courts and the law.
Federal prosecutors will ultimately decide whether to bring criminal charges against Trump, despite the committee’s recommendation that the Justice Department do so. Jack Smith, a special counsel who has been appointed by Attorney General Merrick Garland, will look into any alleged attempts to obstruct the transfer of power following the 2020 election.
These are the four potential criminal accusations against Trump, according to the committee:
Obstruction of an official proceeding
Conspiracy to defraud the United States
Conspiracy to make a false statement
Incite, assist or give aid and comfort to an insurrection
The committee argued that Trump was “directly and personally involved” in the attempt to delay the tally of Electoral College votes during the joint session of Congress on January 6 and acted with a “corrupt” intention in support of its recommendation to prosecute him for obstruction of an official proceeding. Members mentioned Trump’s efforts to exert pressure on Pence to block the certification of state electoral votes as well as his plot to present fictitious elector slates to Congress.
The joint session was temporarily suspended as a crowd of the former president’s supporters broke into the Capitol building. The committee claimed that via both action and inactivity, President Trump “obstructed, delayed, and hampered the vote count.”
The committee also stated that it thought there was “sufficient evidence” to recommend Eastman for criminal investigation because of his scheme to have Pence refuse to tally state electoral votes during the joint session of Congress on January 6, which it claims he was aware was against the law.
After the meeting on Monday, Eastman spoke with reporters to justify his activities, claiming that he was giving legal counsel that was entirely within the scope of his professional obligations as an attorney. According to Eastman, “I constantly advised that the vice president merely acquiesce requests from the state assembly” to postpone the certification of the election in order to look into allegations of voter fraud.
The panel once more pointed to what it described as Trump’s elaborate strategy to overturn the election results as well as Clark’s involvement in the campaign to keep Trump in office as evidence of a potential breach of the statute regarding conspiracy to defraud the United States. The committee also called attention to Trump’s repeated assertions that widespread election fraud will occur in 2020, despite receiving assurances to the contrary from numerous close advisers.
In a debate over emails from Eastman that investigators sought to access, the committee frequently cited rulings from U.S. District Judge David O. Carter. In March, Carter concluded that it was likely that Trump and Eastman dishonestly collaborated to disrupt the congressional hearings on January 6 and that emails from Eastman were used to further a plot to defraud the United States.
The purpose of the multi-part plan described in this report was to prevent the lawful certification of Joe Biden’s election as president, according to the executive summary, which stated that “the Committee believes there is sufficient evidence for a criminal referral of the multi-part plan described in this Report.”
The fictitious elector lists that Trump’s supporters presented to Congress and the National Archives are the focus of the committee’s prosecution recommendation for conspiracy to make a false statement.
“There shouldn’t be any doubt that Section 1001 applies in this situation. Both the Executive Branch (the National Archives) and the Legislative Branch received the fake electoral slates “wrote the committee. “Any issue that falls under the purview of the executive, legislative, or judicial branches of the U.S. government is covered by the law. It is commonly known that breaking Section 1001 can involve making false representations to Congress.”
Trump and Eastman asked the Republican National Committee to coordinate the effort to have Trump’s presidential electors meet and cast their votes, according to party chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, who testified before the select committee. The panel claimed that Trump relied on the existence of the fake electors from states where President Biden won in order to claim that Pence could reject or delay the certification of Mr. Biden’s electors.
The evidence indicates that President Trump entered into an agreement with Eastman and others to make the false statement (the fake electoral certificates) by deceitful or dishonest means, and at least one member of the conspiracy engaged in at least one overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy.
According to the committee, Trump’s involvement in the assault on the Capitol violated a federal law that prohibits supporting or encouraging insurrections.
The panel emphasized his remarks at a rally outside the White House pushing his supporters to march to the Capitol on Jan. 6 to protest the election results in addition to inciting them to “descend on the Capitol.” Investigators also pointed to Trump’s tweet from the afternoon of January 6 as evidence that he incited the crowd by criticizing Pence for resisting his pressure campaign and asserting that he lacked the “courage” to throw out state electoral votes.
The committee argued that the former president refused to denounce the violence or call for the crowd to disperse, despite requests from his staff and family members to do so, as the mob of Trump’s supporters continued to pour into the Capitol and forced the evacuation of lawmakers from the House and Senate chambers.
In its executive summary, the panel stated that “evidence uncovered by the Committee further shows that President Trump did not wish to offer security support to the Capitol during that turbulent period.” “This horrific conduct by our Commander in Chief occurred in spite of his affirmative constitutional duty to act, to see that the laws are properly executed,” the statement reads.
It stated that the intent and results of Trump’s actions “were to rally a sizable crowd to converge on the Capitol.”
The committee claimed that although there would need to be proof of a plot, Trump may have broken other federal laws.
A conspiracy to “prevent, by force, intimidation or menace,” any officeholder from carrying out their duties is prohibited under the first provision. The committee claimed that White House chief of staff Mark Meadows might know anything about the conviction of three Oath Keepers members for breaking this statute.
The second statute forbids conspiring to “prevent, obstruct, or delay the execution of any law of the United States by force, or to overthrow, put down, or destroy by force the government of the United States… or to resist by force the authority thereof.”
The Oath Keepers’ leader Stewart Rhodes was found guilty of seditious conspiracy last month, while many Proud Boys members, including their leader Enrique Tarrio, were also accused of plotting to use violence to prevent the transition of presidential power on January 6. On Monday, their trial commenced.
The select committee also referred at least four Republican House members to the House Ethics Committee for disobeying subpoenas in addition to pressing the Justice Department to pursue Trump and his supporters. These representatives are Jim Jordan (Ohio), Scott Perry (Penn), and Andy Biggs (Arizona), as well as Kevin McCarthy.
Each Republican received a subpoena from the panel in May demanding information connected to its investigation, but none complied with either voluntary or mandated requests.