There’s been ample speculation of late about whether the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack will make criminal referrals to the Justice Department, most notably against Donald Trump. In fact, The New York Times reported this past weekend that the question of whether the former president crossed legal lines has effectively already been answered.
The evidence suggests the former president obstructed a congressional proceeding and conspired to defraud the American people, which could serve as the basis for a criminal referral to federal prosecutors. The report came two weeks after a federal judge released a ruling in a civil case that concluded Trump “likely attempted to obstruct the joint session of Congress” on Jan. 6, which would be a crime.
Judge David Carter added, “The illegality of the plan was obvious.... Based on the evidence, the Court finds it more likely than not that President Trump corruptly attempted to obstruct the joint session of Congress on January 6, 2021.”
But as striking as these revelations are, there’s no reason to assume that we know the full scope of the possible criminal misconduct. Rep. Jamie Raskin spoke yesterday to The Washington Post and suggested new revelations are on the way.
“We have not been shy about criminal evidence we encounter, and our report will be profuse in setting forth crimes that have not yet been alleged. But, having said that, we are not a prosecutorial entity. Our job is to make a report to Congress and the American people about what happened on Jan. 6 and what needs to be done to prevent coups and insurrections going forward.”
When the Post asked whether there will be consequences for those behind the insurrectionist violence, the Maryland Democrat added, “As in most mob-style investigations, the Department of Justice seems to be working its way up from the bottom to the top. They have charged a lot of people with violent assault, destruction of federal property, interference with a federal proceeding and now, increasingly, seditious conspiracy, conspiracy to overthrow the government.
“So that’s why I’m telling the people who are despairing over the fact that the people at the top always seem to get away with it to be patient because I do think they are working their way up.”
As for when we might hear more about this, another member of the bipartisan panel, Democratic Rep. Elaine Luria of Virginia, appeared on The Rachel Maddow Show last night and said the committee is moving forward with plans for public, open-door, televised hearings potentially in “late May, early June.”
Of course, between now and then, there’s still an enormous amount of work to do, as we were reminded yesterday as Pat Cipollone, the former White House counsel, and Patrick Philbin, who was his deputy, met separately with congressional investigators.
In the meantime, the select committee can also expect to receive a new round of materials. The Washington Post reported:
President Biden has authorized the National Archives and Records Administration to hand over a new tranche of Trump White House documents to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol. In a letter released Wednesday by the archives, Biden declined to assert executive privilege over the records — the latest batch sought by the committee after the Supreme Court rejected Trump’s bid to block such releases.
“As to the remaining prioritized records, President Biden has considered the former President’s claims, and I have engaged in consultations with the Office of Legal Counsel at the Department of Justice,” White House counsel Dana Remus wrote. “The President has determined that an assertion of executive privilege is not in the best interests of the United States, and therefore is not justified.”
Watch this space.