WASHINGTON: A US House of Representatives panel on Monday asked federal prosecutors to charge Donald Trump with obstruction and insurrection for his role in sparking the Jan 6, 2021, assault on the Capitol.
The Democratic-led select committee asked the Justice Department to bring charges against the Republican former president, including obstruction of an official proceeding of Congress, conspiracy to defraud the United States and insurrection.The request is non-binding, but may increase pressure on prosecutors, who are carrying out multiple investigations of Trump, to act.
Monday’s meeting is likely the last final public gathering of a panel that spent 18 months probing the unprecedented attempt to prevent the peaceful transfer of power by thousands of Trump backers, inspired by his false claims that his 2020 election loss to Democratic President Joe Biden was the result of widespread fraud.
“If we are to survive as a nation of laws and democracy, this can never happen again,” said Representative Bennie Thompson, the select committee’s chairperson, as the meeting began.Slamming Trump for summoning the mob to the Capitol nearly two years ago, Thompson also criticised the former president for undermining faith in the democratic system.
“If the faith is broken, so is our democracy. Donald Trump broke that faith,” Thompson said.Trump has already launched a campaign to seek the Republican nomination to run for the White House again in 2024.The select committee’s work is one of a series of investigations into the riot. Five people, including a police officer, died during or shortly after the incident and more than 140 police officers were injured. The Capitol suffered millions of dollars in damage.
“Among the most shameful of this committee’s findings was the president Trump sat in the dining room off the Oval Office, watching the violent riot at the Capitol on television,” Representative Liz Cheney, one of two Republicans on the committee, said.
Trump has dismissed the many investigations he faces as politically motivated, saying the Jan 6 committee, dominated by Democrats, is biased against him.
A jury has already found members of the right-wing Oath Keepers militia guilty of sedition for their role in the attack and a special counsel, Jack Smith, is leading probes into Trump’s efforts to overturn his loss and his removal of classified documents from the White House.
Trump has faced a series of legal problems since leaving office. His real estate company was convicted on Dec 6 of carrying out a 15-year-long criminal scheme to defraud tax authorities.
“The highly partisan Unselect Committee is illegally leaking confidential info to anyone that will listen,” the former president wrote on his Truth Social platform before the meeting. “How much longer are Republicans, and American Patriots in general, going to allow this to happen.”