Jan. 6 Panel to Cap 18-Month Inquiry With Final Public Session

The committee, which consistently broke new ground for a congressional investigation, is expected to approve its final report and vote on issuing criminal and civil referrals against Donald J. Trumph

Thee Jan. 6 panel has interviewed more than 1,000 witnesses, obtained more than one million documents, issued more than 100 subpoenas and held 10 public hearings.Credit…J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Pres

By: Luke Broadwater

WASHINGTON — The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol will hold its last public meeting on Monday afternoon, ending an 18-month investigation with the approval of its final report and a vote on issuing criminal and civil referrals against former President Donald J. Trump and his top allies.

During a business meeting at 1 p.m., the committee is expected to discuss some of the findings in its final report and recommendations for legislative changes.

The panel is also expected to vote on referring Mr. Trump to the Justice Department on charges of insurrection, obstruction of an official proceeding of Congress and conspiracy to defraud the United States, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Referrals against Mr. Trump would not carry any legal weight or compel the Justice Department to take any action, but they would send a powerful signal that a congressional committee believes the former president committed certain crimes.

The department is already conducting an investigation into the events of Jan. 6, 2021, when a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol, and the plans to overturn the 2020 election that preceded the violence. In recent weeks, federal prosecutors have issued subpoenas to officials in seven states in which the Trump campaign organized electors to falsely certify the election for Mr. Trump despite the voters choosing Joseph R. Biden Jr.

In a statement, Steven Cheung, a spokesman for Mr. Trump, dismissed the committee’s planned actions on Monday as those of a “kangaroo court” that held “show trials by Never Trump partisans who are a stain on this country’s history.”

Monday’s meeting will mark the end of one of the most consequential congressional committees in a generation. Over the course of a year and a half, the panel interviewed more than 1,000 witnesses, obtained more than one million documents, issued more than 100 subpoenas and held 10 public hearings that consistently drew millions of viewers.

The meeting is not expected to be as long as hearings from the summer, which detailed the plot to overturn the 2020 election and featured live witnesses.

In recent days, committee members have fanned out on cable television to lay the public groundwork for the vote, making it clear they were in agreement that Mr. Trump needed to be held accountable.

“I think the president has violated multiple criminal laws,” Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California and a member of the committee, said on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday. “And I think you have to be treated like any other American who breaks the law, and that is, you have to be prosecuted.”

Mr. Schiff detailed why he thought a charge of insurrection was appropriate.

“In terms of the criminal statute, if you can prove that someone incited an insurrection — that is, they incited violence against the government, or they gave aid and comfort to those who did — that violates that law,” Mr. Schiff said. “And if you look at Donald Trump’s acts, and you match them up against the statute, it’s a pretty good match. I realize that statute hasn’t been used in a long time. But, then, when have we had a president essentially incite an attack on his own government?”

The House created the Jan. 6 committee after Senate Republicans used a filibuster to defeat a proposal to create an independent commission to investigate the attack, during which more than 150 police officers were injured as pro-Trump rioters interrupted the peaceful transfer of power from Mr. Trump to Mr. Biden.

The committee — made up of seven Democrats and two Republicans — consistently broke new ground for a congressional investigation. Staffed with more than a dozen former federal prosecutors, the panel set a new production standard for how to hold a congressional hearing. It also got significantly ahead of a parallel Justice Department investigation into the events of Jan. 6, with federal prosecutors later interviewing many of the same witnesses Congress had already spoken with.

Lawmakers on the panel also believe they played a significant role in elevating the issue of threats to democracy in the minds of voters, who rejected many election deniers in the November midterms.

On Monday, the panel will take another unprecedented step for a legislative body: voting on criminal referrals against a former president. Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi and the chairman of the committee, has said the panel is considering referrals to “five or six” entities, including the Justice Department, the House Ethics Committee, the Federal Election Commission and bar associations.

Among those under scrutiny from the panel are five congressional Republicans who refused to comply with the committee’s subpoenas.

In addition to a vote on referrals, the panel also plans to release a portion of its eight-chapter final report into the effort to block the transition of power.

The report — which contains an executive summary of more than 100 pages — roughly mirrors the presentation of the committee’s investigative hearings that drew wide viewership over the summer. Chapter topics include Mr. Trump’s spreading of lies about the election, the creation of fake slates of pro-Trump electorsin states won by Mr. Biden, and the former president’s pressure campaign against state officials, the Justice Department and former Vice President Mike Pence as he sought to overturn his defeat.

The committee’s report is also expected to document how Mr. Trump summoned a mob of his supporters to Washington and then did nothing to stop them as they attacked the Capitol for more than three hours. It will also include a detailed analysis of the breach of the Capitol.

In terms of legislative recommendations, the panel has already endorsed overhauling the Electoral Count Act, the law that Mr. Trump and his allies tried to exploit on Jan. 6 in an attempt to cling to power. Lawmakers have also discussed changes to the Insurrection Act and legislation to enforce the 14th Amendment’s prohibition on insurrectionists holding office.

Luke Broadwater covers Congress. He was the lead reporter on a series of investigative articles at The Baltimore Sun that won a Pulitzer Prize and a George Polk Award in 2020. @lukebroadwater

 

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