J6 Committee Recommends Criminal Charges Against Trump Over Capitol Riot

The recommendations are largely symbolic as they carry no legal weight.
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 13: U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) (L), Chair of the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol, delivers remarks alongside Vice Chairwoman Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) during a hearing on the January 6th investigation in the Cannon House Office Building on October 13, 2022 in Washington, DC. The bipartisan committee, in possibly its final hearing, has been gathering evidence for almost a year related to the January 6 attack at the U.S. Capitol. On January 6, 2021, supporters of former President Donald Trump attacked the U.S. Capitol Building during an attempt to disrupt a congressional vote to confirm the electoral college win for President Joe Biden. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The House January 6 Committee voted on Monday to recommend the Justice Department charge former President Donald Trump over the January 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol.

The committee, assembled by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), concluded its inquiry with a vote recommending Trump be charged with obstructing an official proceeding, conspiring to defraud the United States, conspiring to make false statements to the federal government, and inciting an insurrection.

[Trump] “lost the 2020 election and knew it, but he choose to try and stay in office through a multi-part scheme to overturn the results and block the transfer of power,” committee chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) said in his opening statement. “In the end, he summoned a mob to Washington and, knowing they were armed and angry, pointed them to the Capitol and told them to ‘fight like hell.’ There’s no doubt about this.”

The recommendations are largely symbolic as they carry no legal weight. The Justice Department is under no obligation to act on the committee’s recommendations.

In addition to the recommendations to the Justice Department, the committee also voted to recommend four members of Congress to the House Ethics Committee for refusing to comply with subpoenas.

The committee’s Monday session caps the work it began when it was launched in July 2021. It conducted more than 1,000 interviews and held 10 highly-publicized hearings over the summer to build its case to the Justice Department and the American public that Trump is to blame for the riot on January 6.

The investigation was conducted by seven Democratic and two Republican lawmakers. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) refused to cooperate with the committee after Pelosi rejected several of his nominees to sit on the panel. GOP Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, both of whom supported impeaching Trump over January 6, later volunteered to sit on the committee alongside the Democrats.

The former president has been a vocal critic of the committee’s work, calling it a continuation of the “witch hunt” that began against him in 2016 with FBI counterintelligence probes into false allegations that Trump’s campaign colluded with Russian agents.

Prior to Monday’s vote, Trump spokesman Steven Cheung dismissed the committee as a “kangaroo court.” He called its hearings over the summer “show trials by Never Trump partisans who are a stain on this country’s history,” according to The New York Times.

In an October memo spanning 14 pages, Trump hit back at the committee that had issued a subpoena for the former president to testify.

“This memo is being written to express our anger, disappointment and complaint that with all of the hundreds of millions of dollars spent on what many consider to be a Charade and Witch Hunt,” Trump said.

Trump is facing a series of investigations from state and federal authorities, including a special counsel investigation led by Jack Smith, who was most recently a prosecutor at the International Criminal Court at The Hague. Attorney General Merrick Garland named Smith to the special counsel’s office last month. Smith has taken over responsibility for a DOJ probe into Trump over January 6, 2021, and an investigation into classified documents allegedly kept at Trump’s Florida residence at Mar-a-Lago.

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