The special House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol released a 154-page executive summary on Monday detailing its impetus for referring criminal charges against former President Donald Trump to the Justice Department.
“What Donald Trump proceeded to do after the 2020 election is something no president had done before in our country,” said Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss. “In a staggering betrayal of his oath, Donald Trump attempted a plan that led to an attack on a pillar of our democracy.”
The panel, which is made up of seven Democrats and two anti-Trump Republicans, argued during the committee’s final meeting that Trump’s conduct before and after Jan. 6 was “unlawful.”
“President Trump’s decision to declare victory falsely on election night and, unlawfully, to call for the vote counting to stop, was not a spontaneous decision,” the introductory report reads. “It was premeditated.”
The committee is expected to release its final comprehensive report on Wednesday.
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The document claims that even after legal challenges to overturn the 2020 election failed, Trump pressured the Justice Department and state officials into decertifying the results. That push, according to the committee, culminated in demands that then-Vice President Mike Pence reject Electoral College votes from states won by President Biden.
“Even key individuals who worked closely with President Trump to try to overturn the 2020 election on January 6th ultimately admitted that they lacked actual evidence sufficient to change the election result, and they admitted that what they were attempting was unlawful,” states the report.
The summary includes the methods the committee took to come to more than 15 specific findings.
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The panel’s introductory report serves as the basis for its decision to refer Trump to the Justice Department for criminal prosecution. Lawmakers say they have sufficient evidence that Trump obstructed an official proceeding of Congress, conspired to defraud the federal government, made a false statement, and incited, assisted or aided an insurrection.
“No man who would behave that way at that moment in time can ever serve in any position of authority in our nation again,” said Rep. Liz Cheney, a Wyoming Republican. “He is unfit for any office.”
The unprecedented criminal referral holds no official legal weight, and a final determination on whether to pursue the charges will be up to Attorney General Merrick Garland.
Apart from Trump, the Jan. 6 committee also referred several GOP lawmakers to the House Ethics Committee for defying its congressional subpoenas. The GOP lawmakers include House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy of California and Freedom Caucus Chairman Scott Perry of Pennsylvania. Also on the list is Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, the incoming chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.
“This is just another partisan and political stunt made by a select committee that knowingly altered evidence, blocked minority representation on a committee for the first time in the history of the U.S. House of Representatives, and failed to respond to Mr. Jordan’s numerous letters and concerns surrounding the politicization and legitimacy of the committee’s work,” said a spokesman for Jordan.
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Over its 18-month tenure, the committee obtained access to tens of thousands of documents and conducted nearly 1,000 interviews related to the Capitol protests.