During the final business meeting of the Jan. 6th Committee on Monday, former President Donald Trump was branded “unfit for office,” as the chair declared that “accountability” must come from the criminal justice system.
“For hours, he would not issue a public statement instructing his supporters to disperse and leave the Capitol” as the riot raged that day, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo) noted in her remarks. “This was an utter moral failure, and a clear dereliction of duty.”
Rebuking Trump’s actions and inaction, Cheney added: “No man who would behave that way at that moment in time can ever serve in any position of authority in our nation again.”
Chair Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) expressed that law enforcement would take cues from the committee’s work.
“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,” Thompson said. “We’ll use the information we’ve provided to aid their work.”
The committee is expected to vote on whether to refer Trump to the Justice Department on multiple felonies.
Criminal referrals by U.S. lawmakers carry no legal weight and were the subject of intensive debate inside the committee.
According to Politico, some committee members feared the referrals would not make any prosecution more likely and could arm Trump and his supporters with a reason to attack any potential case as politically motivated. The committee reportedly overcame those reservations earlier this month.
Months earlier this year, U.S. District Judge David O. Carter found it “more likely than not” that Trump committed two felonies: obstructing an official proceeding and conspiring to defraud the United States. Carter made those watershed findings in a civil case, weighing assertions of attorney-client privilege by Trump’s lawyer John Eastman. The found that the crime-fraud exception waived that privilege, releasing batches of emails to the committee.
Materials from the committee’s final report are expected to be released at the conclusion of the business meeting, but several members previewed their findings.
Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) said that it starts from the beginning: Trump’s attempt to persuade people he actually won the election that he lost to President Joe Biden.
“Many of these findings pertain to what has been called ‘The Big Lie,’ an enormous effort led by ex-President Trump to spread baseless accusations and misinformation in an attempt to falsely convince tens of millions of Americans that the election had been stolen,” Lofgren said.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) focused on another part of Trump’s plan: to replace legitimate electors with a false slate of his own supporters in states where he lost. This scheme, he said, involved a plan to transmit false electoral college ballots to the National Archives.
“The Select Committee has developed evidence that these intentionally false documents were transmitted to multiple officers of the federal government, and were intended to interfere with the proper conduct of the joint session, where the existence of so-called competing slates of electors would serve as a pretext,” Schiff said.
This is a developing story.
[Image of Trump via Emily Elconin/Getty Images; photo of the committee by Alex Wong/Getty Images]
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