Who’s accused of what: Jan 6 panel makes criminal referrals

The former president has been referred under four criminal statutes including defrauding the US and inciting an insurrection

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
Monday 19 December 2022 21:51 GMT
Related video: Jan.6 committee to vote on criminal charges

The House Select Committee investigating the insurrection on January 6, 2021 has made criminal referrals to the Justice Department for former President Donald Trump, conservative attorney John Eastman, and “others”.

Mr Trump was referred under four criminal statutes – obstructing an official proceeding, making false statements, defrauding the US, as well as inciting an insurrection.

The unnamed “others” could include former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, former Department of Justice official Jeffrey Clark, and former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, CNN noted ahead of the meeting.

The referrals are recommendations with no legally binding agreement.

Mark Meadows

Mr Meadows received a subpoena to hand over both documents and to testify before the committee in September 2021. He provided more than 2,000 texts from between Election Day in 2020 and the inauguration of President Joe Biden.

Mr Meadows chose to cease his cooperation with the panel and didn’t provide other documents and he refused to testify.

The committee voted previously to hold Mr Meadows in contempt of Congress and sent a referral to the Department of Justice, which has chosen not to indict Mr Meadows for evading the subpoena -- citing his significant role in the Trump administration and the claims of executive privilege.

John Eastman

While Mr Eastman was interviewed by the panel last year, he used his Fifth Amendment rights to avoid answering questions.

A federal judge issued a ruling in March that Mr Eastman and Mr Trump may have been planning to go through with criminal actions when they attempted to disrupt Congress’s certification of Mr Biden’s victory.

California federal judge David Carter ordered Mr Eastman to hand over 101 emails from around the time of the insurrection.

The judge’s argument acknowledged that Mr Trump’s will to attempt to overturn the 2020 election was possibly criminal.

“The illegality of the plan was obvious,” the judge wrote.

Mr Eastman pitched a plan that then-Vice President Mike Pence could singlehandedly change the results of the election – an idea rejected by Trump White House attorneys, outside legal scholars, and Mr Pence himself, but which Mr Trump clung to.

Jeffrey Clark

Mr Clark was deposed by the panel, invoking the Fifth Amendment more than 100 times.

In June, the panel held a hearing outlining Mr Clark’s role in Mr Trump’s efforts to use the Department of Justice to remain in office. The panel focused on the actions of Pennsylvania GOP Representative Scott Perry, who put the White House in touch with Mr Clark in December 2020.

A former aide to Mr Meadows, Cassidy Hutchinson, told the committee that “he wanted Mr Clark – Mr Jeff Clark to take over the Department of Justice”.

Rudy Giuliani

Mr Giualini sat down with the panel for more than nine hours in May.

In a subpoena, the committee said Mr Giuliani “actively promoted claims of election fraud on behalf of the former President and sought to convince state legislators to take steps to overturn the election results”.

It also said that Mr Giuliani spoke to Mr Trump and Members of Congress “regarding strategies for delaying or overturning the results of the 2020 election”.

Donald Trump

Panel member Jamie Raskin, a Maryland Democrat, said on Monday that a subcommittee of panel lawyers is recommended making criminal referrals because of “the gravity of the specific offence, the severity of its actual harm, and the centrality of the offender to the overall design of the unlawful scheme to overthrow the election”.

Mr Raskin said the “starting point” was the California judge who said it was likely that Mr Trump and lawyer John Eastman had violated laws against obstructing official proceedings.

“We believe that the evidence described by my colleagues today and assembled throughout our hearings, warrants a criminal referral of former president Donald J Trump, John Eastman and others for violations of this statute,” Mr Raskin said. “The whole purpose and obvious effect of Trump’s scheme were to obstruct influence and impede this official proceeding, the central moment for the lawful transfer of power in the United States”.

Mr Raskin added that Mr Trump and some associates should be prosecuted for violating parts of the law that “makes it unlawful to knowingly and willfully make materially false statements to the federal government” and for violating laws against anyone who “incites assist or engages in insurrection against the United States of America and anyone who gives aid or comfort to an insurrection”.

“The committee believes that more than sufficient evidence exists for a criminal referral of former President Trump for assisting or aiding and comforting those at the Capitol who engaged in a violent attack on the United States. The committee has developed significant evidence that President Trump intended to disrupt the peaceful transfer transition of power under our Constitution. The president has an affirmative and primary constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed. Nothing could be a greater betrayal of this duty than to assist in insurrection against the constitutional order,” he said.

Mr Raskin added that “there is more than sufficient evidence” to recommend that Mr Trump and others for violating laws prohibiting the defrauding of the US, “to make an agreement to impair, obstruct, or defeat the lawful functions of the United States government by deceitful or dishonest means”.

“Former President Trump did not engage in a plan to defraud the United States acting alone. He entered into agreements formal and informal with several other individuals who assisted him with his criminal objectives. Our report describes in detail the actions of numerous co-3conspirators who agreed with and participated in Trump’s plan to impair obstruct and defeat the certification of President Biden’s electoral victory,” he said.

The punishments for the referred crimes

Obstruction of an official proceeding – up to 20 years in prison.

Conspiracy to defraud the United States – up to five years in prison.

Conspiracy to make a false statement – up to five years in prison.

Inciting or assisting an insurrection – up to ten years in prison.

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