After almost two years (18 months to be exact), the January 6 committee investigation on insurrection ended the other day. Since the committee has no prosecutorial power, their recommendation to the Department of Justice (DOJ) has no legal effect. It’s purely referral. So, the question is: Will DOJ consider their referral of at least four criminal charges against the former President and other co-conspirators?
As I See It, DOJ should consider their recommendations for three reasons. One, it took them almost two years to do the investigation with precision, clear discretion, scrutiny of hundreds of supporting evidence, and if DOJ will not consider it, it would be a waste of time, treasure, and talent (3 Ts) on the part of the member-legislators.
Two, the supporting evidence are clear and valid that even an ordinary citizen can figure out with their naked eyes there was really culpability on the part of the January 6 perpetuators.
Three, nobody is above the law, not even a former president of the United States of America (USA). The committee found that former President Donald Trump was the “central reason” why the January 6 insurrection happened which resulted to at least four criminal charges.
The committee’s full report will be released on Wednesday for all concerned, especially to the citizens of the United States, for them to fully understand the circumstances that led to the rape of American democracy.
The criminal charges referred to DOJ include obstruction of an official proceeding, that is for obstructing the actual January 6 count of the votes by Congress;
Then, conspiracy to defraud the United States. This refers to several instances, the committee says, including the so-called big-lie by former President trump, as well as the idea that former Vice president Mike Pence could himself stop the electoral count;
Next, conspiracy to make false statements, that specially is about the scheme, as the committee puts it, to try to put false elector states on the board, overturn the electors for each state; and
Finally, assisting and aiding or comforting an insurrection.
These allegations are serious and needs to be scrutinized by DOJ. In fact, it was not only Trump who was found to have violated the law but about four other former Trump officials who were Trump’s co-conspirators – Atty. John Eastman who is being referred to for two charges, obstruction and conspiracy; Kenneth Chesebro, also an attorney; Mark Meadows, the former president’s former chief of staff; and well-known Rudy Giuliani, president Trump’s former attorney.
In their referral, the committee stated that “Masterminds and ringleaders cannot get a free pass”. The committee believes they have clear evidence that they have obtained on those referrals to prosecute and convict on these four charges for the former president, and so with these five co-conspirators. In fact, the committee further believe that there are other crimes committed and the DOJ should not be limited to these four charges. Based on the evidence they have submitted in their report, DOJ can find other violations which they may add up to the four referred charges.
There are also four current members of Congress who are being referred to from the committee for an ethics investigation by the House – Kevin McCarthy, the man who would like to be a speaker of the House; Jim Jordan, the man who is likely to be the chairman of the judiciary committee; Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania; and Andy Biggs of Arizona, a former and a current chairman of the Freedom Caucus.
We have waited for so long for the committee to complete their investigation. It is high time the American people would know what really happened. So, the full report of the committee, which will be released to the American people, will surely give us the answer and the real picture of what happened on January 6. Since the final report, both written and visual, we can discern what the report is all about, even without the help of experts, or DOJ, or the media. As the watchdog of democracy, we will be able to judge for ourselves and let DOJ know we are affirming the committee’s referral to them.
Of course, there are repercussions of the referral. Former President Trump, however think it will help him. He was overheard saying: “… It strengthens me.” Former Vice President Pence said: “Indicting Trump is terribly divisive.”
Asa to Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming), vice chairman of the January 6 committee she said: “every president in our history has defended this orderly transfer of authority, except one, January 6, 2021, was the first time one American president refused this constitutional duty to transfer power peacefully to the next. In our work over the last 18 months, the Select Committee has recognized our obligation to do everything we can to ensure this never happens again.”
The members of the January 6 Select Committee are: Democrats Rep. Bennie Brown, Mississippi, Chairman; Rep. Adam Schiff, California; Rep. Zoe Lofgren, California; Rep. Pete Aguilar, Southern California; Rep. Stephanie Murphy, Florida; Rep. Jamie Raskin, Maryland; Rep. Elaine Luria, Virginia Beach Area; and Republicans Rep. Liz Cheney, Wyoming, Vice chairman; and Rep. Adam Kinzinger, Illinois.
While five members will be returning for the next Congress, four will not. Here are the four lawmakers — two Republicans and two Democrats — who will not be serving in the House next year:
Rep. Cheney, a staunch Trump critic, is leaving Congress after losing her primary to Republican Harriet Hageman by 37 percentage points. Trump endorsed Hageman, an attorney, and made Cheney a top target.
Rep. Kinzinger, the six-term congressman is the only other Republican on the panel, and he has also been a sharp critic of Trump. He announced his retirement amid a new congressional map.
Rep. Luria, first elected in the 2018 Democratic wave, lost re-election in the swingy 2nd District in November. Republican Jen Kiggans, who, like Luria, is a Navy veteran, defeated Luria by 3 points.
The last one is Rep. Murphy who was first elected to the House in 2016, defeating longtime GOP Rep. John Mica in the competitive 7th District, Florida.
So, will DOJ uphold the January 6 committee’s referral? I would say: They should!
(ELPIDIO R. ESTIOKO was a veteran journalist in the Philippines and a multi-awarded journalist here in the US. For feedbacks, comments… email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.)