House Select Panel Will Vote Three Criminal Referrals Against Trump Today
Washington (AFP) - After a year and a half of hearings and more than 1,000 depositions, the House Select Committee that investigated Donald Trump's responsibility in the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol and the attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election delivers its findings today.
In a public hearing scheduled for 1 pm ET , the elected members of the select committee will present the eight chapters of its long investigation and will vote to recommend prosecution of Trump and others.
The main elements of the investigation include:
'An Attempted Coup'
The committee, comprising seven Democrats and two Republicans, was tasked with shedding light on the former president's actions before and during January 6, 2021, the day that shook the pillars of American democracy.
The probe attempted to show that Trump's rejection of the November 2020 presidential election results was not simply a tantrum by a sore loser but a core part of a careful strategy to defy the constitution and retain power.
Trump was "at the center" of "an attempted coup," the committee chair, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MI) said of the events on January 6, 2021.
Pressure On The Vice President
In a series of high-profile hearings, the committee provided evidence that it was impossible for Trump not to know that he had lost the election to Joe Biden.
His "voter fraud" theories did not convince several members of his inner circle, including a series of advisers, his attorney general and even his own daughter Ivanka, who spoke in on-camera testimony.
In an attempt to invalidate the presidential election, Trump pressured election officials, particularly in Georgia and Arizona. The commission revealed the extent of this intimidation, inviting several of them to testify in person.
The Republican then called on his vice president, Mike Pence, to block the January 6, 2021, certification by Congress of his rival Joe Biden's victory.
"What the former president was willing to sacrifice -- potentially the vice president -- in order to stay in power is pretty jarring," Democratic panel member Pete Aguilar said at one of the hearings.
Trump's Passivity On January 6
Trump summoned his supporters to come to Washington on January 6, calling on them to "fight like hell."
In the crowd gathered a short distance from the White House, Trump knew that some of the protesters were armed and potentially dangerous, former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson told a hearing in June.
Trump nevertheless sought to join the throng on its way to Congress, attempting to grab the wheel of the presidential SUV from a Secret Service agent, according to Hutchinson's explosive testimony.
He then spent three hours watching television images of the unfolding violence on Capitol Hill without intervening.
The members of the committee deemed that he had, at the very least, engaged in "complete dereliction of duty" as commander in chief.
Recommending Charges Against Trump
The committee will conduct its final public hearing Monday, in which it will recommend charges over the insurrection, and issue its final report on Wednesday. The Washington Post and Politico report that the committee will vote on referring Trump for three charges: obstruction of an official proceeding of Congress, conspiracy to defraud the United States and insurrection.
Several legal experts said Trump could be criminally prosecuted for "obstructing an official government proceeding" or on a broader charge of "conspiracy to defraud" the government by disrupting the functioning of institutions.
The decision to press charges will ultimately rest with Attorney General Merrick Garland, who in mid-November appointed a special prosecutor to independently investigate Trump.
The commission may also make legislative recommendations to protect the process of certifying election results so that the events of January 6, 2021, can never happen again.