WASHINGTON ( Associated Press) – Jan. 6 A House committee may have drawn up a potential criminal case against Donald Trump, but it doesn’t actually bring the former president any closer to facing prosecution.
The Justice Department is already conducting a massive investigation into the January 6, 2021 riot at the US Capitol and efforts by Trump and his allies to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.
The special prosecutor in charge of that probe has given no indication of what charges he might bring, but he is not required to take into account the commission’s criminal recommendation or follow the prosecution plan presented by the panel.
“This is historic – for a congressional committee to recommend criminal charges against a former president – but it does not change the fundamental fact that the Justice Department will be the one to decide who should be charged,” Ronald Weich , said the dean of the University of Baltimore School of Law and a former assistant attorney general for legislative affairs for the agency.
“The Justice Department should not be influenced by any other branch of government,” he said.
The panel referred Trump for possible criminal prosecution for four misdemeanor counts related to the riot itself and his attempt to usurp power. These include charges that he contributed to the insurrection, conspiracy to defraud the United States by trying to prevent the transfer of power, conspiracy to make false statements through an alleged scheme involving so-called “fake voters”, and conspiracy to impersonate an official. Proceedings obstructed: counting of electoral votes by Congress
At least some of these potential allegations cover general areas the Justice Department is already probing.
For example, prosecutors issued a series of subpoenas in June to Republicans who acted as “mock voters” in battleground states won by Trump. The former president and those close to him lobbied officials in those states to replace Biden’s voters based on misleading or non-existent allegations that his victory was stolen.
The law with the greatest consequences enforced by the commission is one that punishes for inciting or aiding in rebellion or insurrection against the government. The law bars anyone convicted of a crime from returning to elected office.
It is unknown how seriously the Justice Department will take the law, which has not been used in any of the more than 900 federal lawsuits against those involved in capital storming.
In the report’s executive summary, the commission claims that Trump was directly responsible for calling his supporters, who later stormed the Washington campus. In addition, it highlights how a federal judge determined that the then-president’s speech to a crowd of supporters that same day “probably” caused the riot.
But the commission’s suggestion that Trump could be held accountable for his inaction during the attack, including failing to deploy troops to the Capitol or waiting hours for the crowd to disperse, perhaps makes sense. Is. “On an intuitive level,” but it’s one theory the Justice Department can take with a grain of salt, said Rory Little, a professor at the University of California Hastings School of Law in San Francisco.
He said, “The danger of the idea that, by standing by and watching an insurrection when something can be done about it, sets a very dangerous precedent.” “US criminal law generally does not punish people who stare.”
Still, the criminal referral will almost certainly trigger demands by Democrats and the public for action by Attorney General Merrick Garland, as they see the referral and accompanying evidence as a guide to prosecution.