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Jan 6 panel considering criminal referrals for Trump

By AI HEPING in New York | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2022-12-19 07:39

FILE PHOTO: Members of the Oath Keepers are seen among supporters of US President Donald Trump at the US Capitol during a protest against the certification of the 2020 US presidential election results by the US Congress, in Washington, US, January 6, 2021. [Photo/Agencies]

The House committee investigating the Jan 6 attack on the US Capitol reportedly plans at its final meeting on Monday to vote on urging the Justice Department to prosecute former President Donald Trump on at least three criminal charges.

The committee will vote on issuing criminal referrals against the former president for insurrection -- an uprising aiming to overthrow the government, as well as obstruction of an official proceeding and conspiracy to defraud the US government, according to media reports on Friday, all of which cited unnamed persons familiar with the matter.

A select committee spokesperson declined to comment. The committee voted in October to subpoena Trump to testify, but he refused to appear.

A Trump spokesperson denounced the committee's plans. 

"The January 6th un-Select Committee held show trials by Never Trump partisans who are a stain on this country's history," Trump's spokesperson Steven Cheung said in a statement. "This Kangaroo court has been nothing more than a Hollywood executive's vanity documentary project that insults Americans' intelligence and makes a mockery of our democracy."

Referrals from Congress have no legal weight and the Justice Department isn't required to consider referrals. No former president has ever been the subject of a criminal referral from Congress. The department is already conducting its own separate investigation into the Jan 6, 2021, events.

The committee's chairman, Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi, detailed possible referrals last week as falling into a series of categories that include criminal and ethics violations, legal misconduct, and campaign finance violations.

The report that the select panel is expected to consider on Monday afternoon reflects some recommendations from a subcommittee that evaluated potential criminal referrals, according to media reports.

The news cite Politico reported that according to sources the committee's argument for the referral involving the insurrection charge cites a ruling made by US District Court Judge Amit Mehta in February, which says the language Trump used incited the violence that took place on Jan 6. It also reportedly points to the 57 senators who voted to convict Trump of incitement of insurrection following the Capitol riot.

Committee member Representative Zoe Lofgren told CNN Friday that the panel has "been very careful in crafting these recommendations and tethering them to the facts that we've uncovered".

"We spent a huge amount of time not just on what the code sections are and the bottom-line recommendation, but the facts – and I think it's really important when we discuss whatever it is we are going to do and we'll have a vote on it, that people understand the facts behind the conclusions we reach," the California Democrat said.

Lofgren, and committee members Jamie Raskin, of Maryland, Adam Schiff of California, all Democratic representatives, and Republican Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, comprised the subcommittee that drafted the referral recommendations and presented them to the larger group for consideration.

The committee also considering criminal referrals for people who allegedly helped Trump try to overturn the 2016 election results by creating fake slates of electors, such as former Justin Department official Jeffrey Clark, Trump's former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, attorney John Eastman, and Rudy Giuliani, Trump's former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, attorney John Eastman, and Rudy Giuliani, Trump's former personal attorney, according to the reports.

The committee's full report will be released Wednesday, according to Chairman Bennie Thompson. The Mississippi Democrat said the panel will approve its final report Monday and make announcements about criminal referrals to the Justice Department, but the public will not see the final report until two days later.

The committee's 18-month investigation involved more than 1,000 interviews, gathering of over a million documents, and 10 public hearings. The panel comprises seven Democrats and two Republicans all appointed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

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