Congressional panel urges Justice Department to indict ex-president for inciting insurrection, among other charges.
US lawmakers investigating the riot at the United States Capitol last year have recommended filing criminal charges against Donald Trump, accusing the former president of “inciting” insurrection.
During a public meeting on Monday, the January 6 congressional panel voted unanimously to refer four criminal charges against Trump to the Department of Justice, which has the final say on whether to indict the ex-president.
The recommended charges are inciting, assisting or aiding insurrection; disrupting an official proceeding; conspiracy to defraud the US, and conspiracy to make a false statement to the federal government.
“The committee believes that more than sufficient evidence exists for a criminal referral of former President Trump for assisting, or aiding and comforting, those at the Capitol who engaged in a violent attack on the United States,” Congressman Jamie Raskin said as he outlined the recommendations.
“The committee has developed significant evidence that President Trump intended to disrupt the peaceful transition of power under our Constitution.”
Over the past year, the Democratic-led committee has argued that Trump’s false voter fraud claims led to the riot on January 6, 2021, which saw a mob of his supporters storm the US Capitol building as Congress was meeting to certify Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory.
Congresswoman Liz Cheney, the panel’s vice chair, said during the final session on Monday that Trump’s failure to call on his supporters to end the attack not only “unlawful” but an “utter moral failure and a clear dereliction of duty”, as well.
“No man who would behave that way at that moment in time can ever serve in any position of authority in our nation again; he is unfit for any office,” Cheney said.
The panel is expected to release a final report on its findings later this week, as well as make public all “non-sensitive records” before the end of the year.
“These transcripts and documents will allow the American people to see for themselves the amount of evidence we’ve gathered and continue to explore,” Congressman Bennie Thompson, the committee chair, said on Monday.
Trump and his supporters have rejected the panel’s efforts as a partisan witch hunt.
Our work on the @January6thCmte has led us to criminally refer Donald Trump to DOJ. We now turn to the criminal justice system to ensure Justice under the law. The American people can ensure he’s never elected again.
— Adam Kinzinger (@RepKinzinger) December 19, 2022
The former president rebuked the committee ahead of Monday’s session, comparing its investigation to the years-long probe into possible collusion between his campaign and Russia, which he described as a “hoax”.
In posts on his Truth Social platform, Trump – who plans to seek the presidency again in 2024 – also reiterated unfounded accusations that Democrats “cheated” in the 2020 election.
“The real criminals are the people who are destroying our once great Country!” he wrote.
But other observers welcomed the panel’s push for US prosecutors to file criminal charges against Trump, saying the move is necessary to hold those responsible for the violence on January 6 accountable.
“Today marks an essential step toward transparency and accountability. Our leaders and the courts must hold accountable all the planners, perpetrators, funders and those who incited the insurrection,” said the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups in the US.
The committee’s work is one of several investigations into last year’s riot.
Criminal charges also have been filed against a number of participants in the attack on the Capitol, including the leader of the far-right Oath Keepers group, Stewart Rhodes, who was found guilty of seditious conspiracy last month for his role in what happened.