For days, the Jan. 6 committee had been hesitant about the timing and format of its final actions, which will include a public meeting on Monday. The latest update, according to Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., chair of the committee, is that on Monday the criminal referrals to the Department of Justice will be released, along with the bulk of the final report — two days earlier than ‘previously. announcement. The full report is still expected on Wednesday.
Given that disclosures take place during the holiday season — when many are likely to be less focused on what’s happening in Washington — it’s important to clarify what to look out for on Monday and what the committee needs to do before. the end of the month.
The expected recommendation that former President Donald Trump be prosecuted would be a political thunderbolt. But it is important to remember that this does not mean that he will be charged.
The report will be the centerpiece and end product of the committee’s work. First impressions will be revealing. Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., would have liked the primary focus to be on former President Donald Trump’s role in promoting efforts to stop Congress from declaring Joe Biden president. Other members have asked for a thorough and complete analysis of all committee testimony. A quick glance will reveal which approach prevailed.
This question could lead to some differences between the members of the committee. Congressional committee reports regularly contain separate statements from individual members. We will see if a representative disagrees enough with the direction or recommendations of the report to add separate remarks.
Given the breadth of the committee’s investigation into the events underlying the January 6 uprising, the other thing to pay attention to is the summary of findings that accompanies the full report. Politico said it will be “bulky”. But the committee faces a conundrum in its preparation.
On the one hand, a summary would be more accessible to the public. For the initial story, journalists will be drawn to it rather than the report itself, as will the general public. On the other hand, some might be tempted not to read further after digesting the executive summary, even though it may omit key evidence and findings supporting the committee’s conclusions.
But it’s not just the executive summary that the report can compete with. Unfortunately, whatever comes out in the report on Monday could likely be overshadowed by the committee’s dismissal of individuals whom the Justice Department should criminally prosecute.
The expected recommendation that former President Donald Trump be prosecuted would be a political thunderbolt. But it is important to remember that this does not mean that he will be charged. Special Counsel Jack Smith will decide if and who to charge. Still, a referral to indict Trump could complicate the Justice Department’s decision-making by putting immense public pressure on Smith and, ultimately, Attorney General Merrick Garland.
Trump aside, the committee’s referrals are expected to identify others, including Trump loyalists who promoted election denial, incited the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, or otherwise conspired to interfere with the peaceful transfer. power.
Equally important will be the list of federal crimes alleged in any referral. Potential crimes range from seditious conspiracy – for which a jury recently convicted Oath Keepers chief Stewart Rhodes – to interference with official government duties or perjury if the committee finds witnesses lied under oath in its investigation .
Who gets referred to the Department of Justice shouldn’t be the only thing that captures our attention.
A criminal conviction for insurrection could have a resounding political impact. Under the 14th Amendment, the conviction of a former federal official for insurrection could bar that person from holding federal office again. While there is no guarantee that this would happen to Trump, it should be noted that since the provision has never been applied to a presidential candidate, the question of whether it could prevent Trump from running for the presidency in 2024 is an outstanding legal issue. On Thursday, House Democrats introduced legislation barring Trump from holding federal office in the future.
However, who gets referred to the Department of Justice shouldn’t be the only thing that captures our attention. Thompson said the committee was looking at “five or six” categories of referrals, which could include agencies that license attorneys and the House Ethics Committee.
With so much to look forward to on Monday, getting people to pay attention to what the committee releases next can be difficult, but staying tuned can be worth it. Thompson told reporters The “attachments” to the report will be published on Wednesday.
These could contain a wealth of critical information, including the identification of some 1,000 people interviewed by the committee. This information would be important news for prosecutors, who probably don’t know the full list.
And while it’s unclear when the transcripts of the witnesses the committee has promised to release will be released, they will be just as essential. The transcripts, while informing the public and prosecutors, will also educate Trump’s legal defense team. Defense attorneys in a normal investigation do not have access to witness statements prior to the indictment.
Be on the lookout for the release of testimony from high-level witnesses — and the names of those who refused to cooperate, presumably including former Vice President Mike Pence and members of Congress. Transcripts of interviews with Virginia Thomas (wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas), former White House attorney Pat Cipollone, former Attorney General William Barr, Ivanka Trump, and Secret Service agents and even low-level White House employees will be thoroughly dissected. After all, anyone in the White House could have overheard critical conversations.
For prosecutors who have subpoenaed key witnesses to testify before a federal grand jury, this would create a unique advantage. They can assess whether a witness testified inconsistently before committee investigators and the grand jury. However, unless a thousand transcripts are posted in a searchable database, important testimony may not appear for days or weeks.
But as Republican control of the House looms, time is not on the committee’s side. And a critical question that remains to be answered is whether the committee will release the voluminous documentary evidence – text messages, call records and emails – that it has collected. Heartfelt exchanges, which senders never believed would see the light of day, might be the most damning evidence of all.
At a minimum, this documentary evidence should be turned over to federal prosecutors, but transparency demands that the public see it as well.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy ordered the committee to retain all of its documents ‘for transparency to the American people,’ but all indications point to Republicans not advancing the investigative work on this. that happened on January 6 and who was responsible for it.
Rather than letting Republicans pick and choose what else to publish, the committee should now release everything — texts, emails, phone call logs and its working papers — for public scrutiny. Let the sun shine on the facts. It would be the committee’s greatest public service.