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January 6 committee to discuss potential criminal referrals at Friday meeting
January 6 committee: As the House Select Committee investigating January 6, 2021, US Capitol attack approaches its deadline, members are set to meet on Friday to discuss its final report as well as the possibility of making criminal referrals, according to multiple sources.
According to multiple sources familiar with the committee’s work, a subcommittee of members is also expected to provide options to the full committee regarding a number of pressing issues, including how to present evidence of possible obstruction, possible perjury, and possible witness tampering, as well as potential criminal referrals to the Department of Justice.
Also on the agenda for the Friday meeting will be the disposition of the five Republican members who refused to comply with their subpoenas, including House Republican Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Ohio Republican Representative Jim Jordan.
“We will be discussing whether to make referrals, and if so on whom and for what,” Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, a committee member and member of the subcommittee that is expected to be providing options. “We are considering any offenses for which we have uncovered relevant evidence and think there is a basis for a referral,” he said, adding that could extend beyond former President Donald Trump.
“If someone is not referred, it does not mean that we do not believe there is evidence,” Schiff continued. According to reports, no decisions have been taken, and discussions are expected to continue beyond the Friday meeting. A representative for the committee had no comment. Along with Schiff, the subcommittee includes Republican Rep. Liz Cheney, the committee’s vice chair, and Democratic Reps. Jamie Raskin and Zoe Lofgren, both of whom are trained lawyers.
Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat who chairs the committee, told CNN that if the committee decides to issue criminal referrals, which he says is “still under consideration,” it will do so “separately” from the final report but will be considered “an official action of the committee.”
Thompson stated that the panel is “near to laying pens down” on the final report, which will have eight chapters and hundreds of interview transcripts. According to sources, the committee hopes to release the report by the week of December 12, which is now the last week Congress is slated to be in session for the year, but they admit it could slide to the week of December 19.
Thompson also stated that the panel does not anticipate hearing any additional witness testimony after Wednesday, bringing to a close more than 1,000 interviews conducted by House investigators.
The committee is meeting with Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos on Wednesday, but Thompson noted that if former President Donald Trump decides to cooperate, the committee will make an exception. “If former President Trump said he’d come, we’d make the accommodation,” Thompson said.
The congressman also confirmed CNN’s report that the whole panel will meet Friday and hear from a subcommittee of members about potential criminal referrals. “We’ll look at the subcommittee report and some of the other unresolved concerns,” he said, referring to the meeting on Friday.
The committee’s decision on whether to make criminal referrals has loomed big. Members of the panel have been unanimous in their belief that Trump and several of his closest associates committed a felony when they pushed a conspiracy to obstruct the peaceful transfer of power, as set out in their hearings. However, they have long been divided on what to do about it, including whether to submit Trump to the Justice Department for criminal charges.
According to reports, the subject has sparked a heated, at times confrontational debate among committee members. Those who argue that a criminal referral is not required to conclude the panel’s probe argue that the committee lacks prosecutorial authority and that the DOJ does not need Congress to investigate crimes because it is conducting its own criminal investigations into the Capitol attack.
Nonetheless, the concept of a criminal referral of Trump, even if completely symbolic in nature, has hung over the panel since its inception, and many members have felt it is a necessary move in order for the panel to accomplish its work.
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