The most disruptive president in modern history, Donald Trump, was at the center of yet another historic development on Monday. The former commander in chief should be charged with insurrection and other crimes, according to a recommendation made by a congressional committee on Monday.
The solemn vote was cast by seven Democrats and two Republicans.
In a lofty meeting space in the Cannon House Office Building, which is located across the street from the dome-shaped Capitol, the panel held its final public hearing. Ironically, the area was only recently given the name Speaker Nancy Pelosi Caucus Room in honor of the departing Democratic leader who oversaw Trump’s impeachment and served as the face of the opposition.
Nearly two years after protesters stormed the Capitol and threatened to kill Pelosi and then-Vice President Mike Pence if they could only catch them, the select House panel came to the conclusion that Trump was to blame for rallying the crowd and starting the attack that shook democracy.
Trump slammed the committee at his Mar-a-Lago residence, calling its investigation a partisan “witch hunt,” and he denied any wrongdoing.
Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, said to reporters: “The president has been extremely frank. We are all responsible for defending our democracy, which is still threatened.”
The Justice Department is not required to file charges as a result of the referral. The investigation into the uprising and the presence of secret government documents at Trump’s Florida estate is the responsibility of Attorney General Merrick Garland and the special counsel he has appointed, Jack Smith.
The independent commission established to look into the 9/11 terror attacks twenty years ago did not have the same clear bipartisan credibility as the Jan. 6 committee, nor was its initial 166-page report as compelling or convincing. House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy declined to take part in the House commission after Pelosi rejected his attempt to appoint two election-deniers among its members. Senate Republicans had filibustered Pelosi’s proposal to create a similar commission.
The committee gathered more than 1 million documents during its 18-month investigation, as well as more than a thousand interviews, more than 100 subpoenas, and 10 public hearings. They looked into the Capitol attack as well as Trump’s efforts in the weeks before it to reverse the vote that had elected Joe Biden and ousted him as president.
The hearing on Monday was held on the same day that Trump sent a significant tweet two years prior. He wrote on December 19, 2020, “Big protest in D.C. on January 6th.”
The committee’s final meeting didn’t really cover much new ground. Instead, it emphasized the prosecution strategy outlined by the most convincing evidence that supported their findings: that Trump was aware he had lost the election but persisted in exerting pressure on Pence, the Justice Department, state officials, and others to stop Biden from assuming the presidency. And that after the violence started, he did nothing to stop it for 187 minutes.
On charges of inciting an uprising, obstructing Congress, conspiring to defraud the United States, and conspiring to make false statements, the panel approved criminal referrals against Trump.
Concerns regarding the effectiveness of the intelligence and law enforcement agencies were not all addressed. The testimony that Trump had allegedly lunged for the wheel of his presidential limousine when his lead Secret Service agent informed him, he couldn’t travel to the Capitol by himself that day is still up for debate.
With this panel set to disband in two weeks, there isn’t much time left to resolve them. According to McCarthy, the Republican-led Congress will begin its own investigation in January, which could call into question the panel’s findings.
The Capitol has never been attacked by American citizens; the last time it was occupied was by British troops during the War of 1812. The peaceful transition of power to a new president has never been in such serious jeopardy. Never before has a former president faced such a serious threat of criminal prosecution.