House Committee To Decide Whether To Criminally Investigate Trump’s Jan. 6 Actions
The special House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection is paying specific focus to former President Donald Trump‘s actions that day. The committee is deliberating whether or not to recommend that the Justice Department open an investigation into Trump for criminal activity.
Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Mississippi) said that the committee has a particular interest in why Trump took so long to tell his supporters to end the riot. Trump encouraged his supporters in their riot against the Capitol and against the election results. He ultimately released a video telling the rioters to leave the Capitol, 187 minutes after he told them to storm it. In the video, he maintained that the election was fraudulent and said that the rioters were “very special.”
“He wasn’t telling the people to go home. He wouldn’t tell them that this is not the way to do it,” said Thompson. “That dereliction of duty causes us real concern. And one of those concerns is that whether or not it was intentional, and whether or not that lack of attention for that longer period of time, would warrant a referral.”
The committee will refer the case to the Justice Department if it believes a crime has been committed. Then, federal prosecutors will determine whether they wish to pursue a charge. Reportedly, the committee is examining a potential criminal referral not only for Trump but possibly for others.
The committee is considering whether Trump criminally obstructed Congress’s efforts to certify the 2020 election results. It is also considering whether criminality occurred in the pressure placed on state and local officials to overturn the election. Additionally, they will determine whether people raised funds for the rallies and events culminating in the insurrection while knowing that the claims for election fraud were untrue.
“I can assure you that if a criminal referral would be warranted, there would be no reluctance on the part of this committee to do that,” said Thompson.
It is unclear how much the committee has uncovered about the insurrection besides what is publicly known about the event. It is also unclear what information the committee will need for its decision.