Members of the House Jan. 6 committee voted on Monday to refer criminal charges to the Justice Department for former President Trump for his alleged role in the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol, NBC News reports.
“The whole purpose and obvious effect of Trump’s scheme were to obstruct, influence and impede this official proceeding, the central moment for the lawful transfer of power in the United States,” committee member Rep. Jamie Raskin said according to CBS News.
The committee recommended four criminal charges against Trump: Obstruction of an Official Proceeding; Conspiracy to Defraud the United States; False Statement and “Incite,” “Assist,” or “Aid and Comfort” an Insurgency.
However, congressional referrals are only recommendations, and the Justice Department is under no obligation to prosecute those referred for prosecution. But the committee’s referrals may increase political pressure on the department to act, and lawmakers’ final report may contain new evidence that federal prosecutors have not yet seen.
The committee also recommended that the House Ethics Committee punish four Republican members of Congress for failing to comply with the committee’s subpoenas.
Rep. Bennie Thompson, the committee’s chair, emphasized the importance of “accountability” for Trump and his allies.
“We have every confidence that the work of this committee will help provide a roadmap to justice and that the agencies and institutions responsible for ensuring justice under the law will use the information we’ve provided to aid their work. And for those of you who have followed this committee’s work, I hope we have helped make clear that there’s a broader kind of accountability. Accountability to all of you: the American people.”
The hearings are the culmination of the panel’s nearly 18-month investigation into the assault on the U.S. Capitol, which included testimony from numerous witnesses and high-profile hearings that looked at the attack and Trump’s role in inciting his supporters to storm the federal building.
Trump has insisted that his actions on January 6 were legal and that the investigation is a “witch hunt.” These people “don’t get it that when they come after me, people who love freedom rally around me,” he wrote on the social media platform Truth Social after the hearing.