As the Jan. 6 select committee continues its hearings into the Capitol riot and the months of activity that preceded it, panel members disagree on a key issue: whether they will remove Donald Trump to the Department of Justice for criminal investigation.
Speaking after Monday’s hearing, which focused on the genesis of Mr Trump’s false claims that the election was stolen, committee chairman Bennie Thompson told a group of reporters that there was no forwarding in progress.
“No, it’s not our job,” he said. “Our job is to look at the facts and circumstances around January 6, what caused it, and to make recommendations afterwards.”
Standing next to him, his colleague Zoe Lofgren remarked, “We are lawmakers, they are prosecutors.
However, some of Mr. Thompson’s other colleagues have openly refuted his comments, some more bluntly than others.
Vice President Liz Cheney, with whom Mr. Thompson is said to have a good relationship, tweeted that “the select committee of January 6 did not issue a conclusion concerning possible criminal references. We will announce a decision on this at the appropriate time. »
She was joined in her insistence by Elaine Luria, who wrote that the panel “has not yet voted on whether we will recommend criminal referrals to the Department of Justice” – and that “if criminal activity has occurred, it is our responsibility to report that activity to the DOJ.”
If the issue in dispute is whether a referral falls within the committee’s formal mandate, a statement from a spokesperson for the panel provided no sign that a clear consensus has been reached.
“The Select Committee does not have the authority to prosecute individuals, but rather is tasked with developing the facts surrounding the Jan. 6 riot on Capitol Hill,” the staffer told CNN.
“Right now, the committee is focused on presenting our findings to the American people in our hearings and in our report. Our investigation is ongoing and we will continue to gather all relevant information as we present facts, offer recommendations and, if warranted, make criminal referrals.
Apart from the question of its legal mandate, however, the committee has a political problem to solve in its interface with the Ministry of Justice: how to avoid giving the impression that it is pressuring an agency belonging to a separate branch. and independent of government to investigate and prosecute political opponents.
It’s an allegation often leveled against Donald Trump that the committee is exploring in its own work, with one of its upcoming sessions explicitly focusing on Mr Trump’s efforts to pressure the judiciary. The panel will include former acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen, former acting deputy attorney general Richard Donoghue and Steven Engel, who headed the White House Office of Legal Counsel.
However, the hearing at which the three men were due to appear was abruptly postponed on a day’s notice with no clear official explanation.
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Post expires at 2:37pm on Saturday June 25th, 2022