Jan. 6 Panel Votes to Refer Trump for Criminal Charges

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A U.S. House of Representatives panel on Dec. 19 voted to refer former President Donald Trump for criminal charges, including a charge that would, if a conviction is secured, bar him from becoming president again.

Members of the select committee to investigate the Jan. 6, 2021 breach of the U.S. Capitol cast the votes for four referrals during a hearing in Washington. They unanimously voted to refer insurrection, obstruction of an official proceeding, making a false statement to the federal government, and conspiracy to defraud the federal government to the U.S. Department of Justice, where prosecutors will ultimately determine whether to act on the recommendations.

“Accountability can only be found in the criminal justice system. We have every confidence that the work of this committee will help provide a roadmap to justice and that the agencies and the institutions responsible for ensuring justice under the law will use the information that we provided to aid in their work,” said Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), chairman of the panel.

A lawyer for Trump and the Department of Justice did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

U.S. law bars insurrection, with the code stating that “whoever incites, sets on foot, assists, or engages in any rebellion or insurrection against the authority of the United States or the laws thereof, or gives aid or comfort thereto, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.”

One law bars obstruction of official proceedings, starting in part that a person may not “corruptly, or by threats or force, or by any threatening letter or communication influences, obstructs, or impedes or endeavors to influence, obstruct, or impede the due and proper administration of the law” by Congress.

A third statute forbids people from conspiring to defraud the United States. The code was defined by a Supreme Court justice as “primarily to cheat the Government out of property or money, but it also means to interfere with or obstruct one of its lawful governmental functions by deceit, craft or trickery, or at least by means that are dishonest.”

By Zachary Stieber

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