Thu. Jan 26th, 2023

The House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol is narrowing in on a recommendation that the Justice Department file criminal charges as the congressional investigation comes to a close, its chairman suggested on Tuesday.

Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson of Mississippi told reporters on Tuesday that the panel has decided to make criminal referrals but added that the committee had not narrowed down who may be referred. There appeared to be some confusion over the comments, which may have come before a formal decision had been reached, as the panel was expected to meet later Tuesday to discuss the referrals.

The question over whether the committee will issue criminal referrals has been circulating for months, as committee members have remained somewhat tight-lipped on the subject. But some members, like Rep. Adam Schiff of California, have indicated that they would throw their support behind the move, while deferring to the committee’s judgment at large.

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GOP Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming said during the panel’s last public hearing in October that the committee has “significant information” to consider criminal referrals for “multiple individuals,” while her Republican colleague Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois said shortly after the hearing that the question over criminal referral “doesn’t have much of a point because obviously DOJ is moving forward on this anyway.”

Indeed, a criminal referral would be largely symbolic, especially with a DOJ investigation already underway. And it may be just as effective with its widely anticipated end-of-year report that – like its many hearings – will likely argue that former President Donald Trump and others close to him committed crimes in their effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

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