Five takeaways from Jan. 6 committee’s final public meeting

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The House Jan. 6 committee approved its historic final report on the Capitol riot and criminal referrals for former President Donald Trump and others. The final report will be released December 21. (Graeme Jennings/Washington Examiner)

Five takeaways from Jan. 6 committee’s final public meeting

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Members of the select committee investigating Jan. 6 ended their final public meeting on Monday by outlining the basis for their criminal referrals of former President Donald Trump and some of his associates, closing up nearly two years of investigating with the rare and serious step of asking the Justice Department to pursue charges against a former president.

The committee said investigators included more details from their lengthy inquiry in a forthcoming report, which the panel plans to release before Republicans take the House majority in less than two weeks.

Here are the biggest takeaways from the committee’s final public meeting.

COMMITTEE VOTES FOR TRUMP’S CRIMINAL REFERRAL 

Committee members laid out their reasoning for referring Trump criminally to the Justice Department on what they described as four broad categories of illegal activity.

The first was obstruction of an official proceeding; members accused Trump of knowingly encouraging the rioters who disrupted the official proceeding of the vote counting in Congress.

The second was conspiracy to defraud the United States, based on what committee members said was Trump’s efforts to “obstruct a lawful certification of the election,” according to materials in the committee’s final report.

Trump also engaged in a conspiracy to make a false statement, the committee alleged, because his associates submitted slates of fake electors to Congress.

Finally, the committee accused Trump of inciting an insurrection with his rhetoric and actions denying the 2020 election results.

The allegation of violating a law against inciting or assisting an insurrection could be the most politically damaging for a former president who hopes to reprise his position as the leader of the country.

Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin, who outlined the specific allegations during the hearing, also said the committee would refer Trump’s former lawyer, John Eastman, and others he did not name to the Justice Department.

COMMITTEE MEMBERS TAKE AIM AT THEIR PEERS

Four Republican congressmen could face consequences for ignoring subpoenas issued as part of the committee’s investigation: Reps. Jim Jordan, Scott Perry, Andy Biggs, and Kevin McCarthy, the last of whom is seeking to lead the GOP conference in January.

Members cited the participation of Perry extensively in introductory materials shared with reporters ahead of the release of the full report.

They suggested all four members had valuable information about Trump and his associates that they refused to share with the panel.

These referrals may be mostly symbolic, however; in January, Republicans will take over the House and control the Ethics Committee, and the new leadership of the ethics panel could view the referrals as politically motivated.

WHAT TRUMP DIDN’T DO WAS KEY

Outgoing Rep. Elaine Luria (D-VA) stressed the ways in which Trump’s inaction was just as important as what he did do with regard to the Jan. 6 riot.

“For 187 minutes, he actively disregarded his constitutional obligation to take care that the laws are faithfully executed,” Luria said.

She was referring to the long stretch of Twitter silence Trump allowed to transpire between his speech earlier in the day in Washington, D.C., and his supporters’ march to the U.S. Capitol to storm it.

“That is because the mob wanted what President Trump wanted: to impede the peaceful transition of power,” she said.

Luria also argued Trump should be held accountable for the calls he refused to make on Jan. 6, including calls to beef up security at the Capitol as it was under siege.

IMPLICATIONS FOR 2024

Trump announced his third bid for the White House last month, officially making himself an active politician for the first time since leaving office shortly after the events of Jan. 6.

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) said during her opening statement that Trump should never serve in office again.

“No man who would behave that way, at that moment in time, can ever serve in any position of authority ever again. He is unfit for any office,” she said.

Her remarks spoke to the hope of the committee and many of Trump’s opponents that the legal implications of how Trump acted before, during, and after the Jan. 6 violence will disqualify him from seeking the presidency again.

THE BUCK STOPPED AT TRUMP

Members of the committee took pains to lay responsibility for the events under investigation at Trump’s feet.

In their final presentation of evidence, the committee sought to dispel any notion that Trump acted at the behest of unhinged lawyers, enabling staff, or corrupt advisers.

Out of the hundreds of interviews and thousands of documents they reviewed, investigators chose to highlight a series of clips that showed Trump’s closest aides warning him repeatedly that his actions were at best unwise and at worst illegal.

The pattern created in the final testimony showed that the committee ultimately viewed Trump as the perpetrator of what it called an insurrection, and not any of the people who helped him incite it.

© 2022 Washington Examiner

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