Several members of the Jan. 6 Select Committee on Sunday argued that there is enough evidence for Attorney General Merrick Garland to open a criminal investigation into former President Trump after the panel’s public hearings detailed its case that the deadly Capitol insurrection was the result of a multi-step, concerted effort by Trump and his allies to subvert the 2020 election results.
Committee vice chair Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) told CNN that although the panel hasn’t decided whether to make criminal referrals against Trump, the panel is considering it.
Cheney said the committee has seen “very serious misconduct and certainly supreme dereliction of duty” by Trump, pointing to the panel’s public hearings that laid out Trump’s corrupt actions amid his refusal to concede the election.
“But you look at what we have laid out in these hearings in terms of the President’s efforts to corrupt the Department of Justice, to corruptly pressure state and local officials, certainly what he did in terms of attempting to pressure the vice president to violate the law and the Constitution,” Cheney said.
Cheney noted the committee’s public hearing last week that featured witness testimony about Trump’s refusal to issue a public statement demanding his supporters leave the Capitol on Jan. 6, despite the fact that people in his inner circle demanded that he do so.
During an interview on ABC News, committee member Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) emphasized that the committee and the DOJ are conducting two separate investigations into the events surrounding Jan. 6.
Kinzinger said that he has noticed a “significant amount more movement” in the DOJ’s investigation recently, but questioned how far the DOJ’s probe has gone in the past year.
“There is a massive difference between I’m going to prosecute the last administration for political vengeance and not prosecuting an administration that literally attempted a failed coup,” Kinzinger said.
Kinzinger argued that the failure to prosecute the former president, despite evidence that he committed unlawful acts, could set a bad “precedent.”
“If there is evidence that this happened from a judicial perspective, if there’s the ability to move forward on prosecuting, and you don’t, you have basically set the floor for future behavior of any president. And I don’t think a democracy can survive that,” Kinzinger said.
“So, I certainly hope they’re moving forward. I certainly think there’s evidence of crimes,” Kinzinger continued. “And I think it goes all the way up to Donald Trump.”
Committee member Rep. Elaine Luria (D-VA) said she “sure as hell” hopes the DOJ opens a criminal investigation into Trump during an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
Luria said that although she doesn’t have insight into the DOJ’s investigation, she is aware that it is watching the committee’s hearings closely.
“There have been cases of criminal defendants who have been charged and found guilty for events on January 6th, and they have actually quoted testimony from the January 6th witnesses and hearings,” Luria said. “So, you know, Merrick Garland has already told us he’s listening, and if he’s watching today, I’d tell him he doesn’t need to wait on us because I think he has plenty to keep moving forward.”
During an interview on CBS News, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) was asked to respond to Garland’s remarks last week, in which the attorney general said that “no person is above the law in this country” when pressed on whether the DOJ is considering prosecuting Trump.
Schiff made clear that he believes there is enough evidence to prompt a criminal investigation into Trump.
“Well, the Attorney General is committed to following the evidence to wherever it may lead and it has led to Donald Trump,” Schiff said. “And so I think the President should be investigated.”
Schiff said it will be up to the DOJ to charge and convict Trump, but the committee has held hearings that detail the former president’s “most supreme dereliction of duty ever” through his incitement of the mob of his supporters who stormed the Capitol and his refusal to issue a public statement in order to quell the violence at the Capitol on Jan. 6.
“Those multiple lines of effort, I think, invoke various criminal laws and his conduct ought to be the subject of investigation,” Schiff said.