Jan. 6 Panel Calls for Riot, Cheating Allegations Against Trump

The panel investigating last year’s attack on the US Capitol on Monday recommended indicting Donald Trump for crimes including insurgency – raising the stakes for an investigation that could land the former president in jail.

The House Special Committee called for the indictment — as well as charges of obstructing an official process and conspiring to defraud the United States — following an 18-month investigation into the Jan. 6, 2021, storming of Congress.

At least five people died after a mob, spurred on by Trump’s false claims of a stolen election and ordered by the defeated president to march into Congress, searched the US seat of democracy in a thwarted attempt to hand power to President Joe Biden to prevent .

The bipartisan committee voted unanimously to refer the charges to the Justice Department after Vice Chairwoman Liz Cheney made opening remarks accusing Trump of “a clear dereliction of duty” for not immediately trying to stop the insurgency and him any office described as “unfit.”

“No man who would act like that at this point can ever again hold a position of authority in our country,” she said.

The referrals are seen as largely symbolic as the panel has no control over impeachment decisions, which rest with the Justice Department.

Jack Smith, a largely independent special prosecutor appointed by Attorney General Merrick Garland, is leading his own investigation into Trump in connection with the 2020 election.

The lawmakers’ move is historic nonetheless, as Congress has never issued a criminal referral against a sitting or former president, and it will add to the noise among Trump’s opponents for criminal charges.

It’s also a major blow to Trump amid a string of missteps in the weeks since he announced a comeback bid for the White House — including poor Republican midterm election results in states where the tycoon has backed candidates.

Charges could see the 76-year-old, who still wields considerable power in the Republican Party, face a ban from office and even jail time.

“Voting in the United States is an act of faith and hope,” said committee chair Bennie Thompson. “That trust in our system is the foundation of American democracy. When trust is broken, so is our democracy. Donald Trump broke that trust.”

The seven Democratic and two Republican panel members are retiring before the end of the year and have summarized their findings in an eight-chapter report due for release Wednesday.

The committee’s case is that Trump “oversaw and coordinated an elaborate seven-pronged plan to overthrow the presidential election and prevent the transfer of presidential power.”

Investigators say the conspiracy began with Trump’s campaign to spread claims he knew to be false that the election was marred by widespread fraud.

He is accused of trying to corrupt the Justice Department and pressuring its Vice President Mike Pence and state election officials and lawmakers to overturn the vote in violation of the Constitution and the law.

“The most dramatic example of this coercive campaign was the President’s call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on January 2, 2021, in which the President asked the Secretary of State to find 11,780 votes he needed to pass the outcome in that state change,” Congressman Adam Schiff said.

Trump is also accused of rallying and rallying the mob in Washington and leading them to the Capitol, even though he knew he was armed with assault rifles, handguns and numerous other weapons.

And for hours he ignored pleas from his team to take action to stop the violence, lawmakers say.

The committee showed a series of video and audio highlights from its 10 public hearings, including footage of the riots and excerpts from interviews with former top Trump aides.

The clips were shown under captions such as “Trump knew he lost,” “Trump summoned the mob,” and “Trump didn’t stop the riot when it was underway.”

Democratic panel member Zoe Lofgren said Trump’s false allegations of cheating were – far from spontaneous – part of a deliberate attempt to sow distrust in democracy that began well before the uprising.

Lofgren echoed the panel’s suggestion that Trump allies had tampered with witnesses, claiming that someone associated with the former president offered a witness potential employment before she testified.

Lofgren said a witness was also told by an attorney associated with Trump that she could pretend not to remember facts while testifying.

Lofgren also returned to an allegation previously made by the panel that Trump “raised hundreds of millions of dollars using false information from his online donors.”

Trump has repeatedly disparaged the House panel on his own platform, Truth Social, calling members “Democrats, misfits and thugs.”

© 2022 AFP

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