The House January 6 Committee recommended to the Justice Department on Monday several charges against former President Donald Trump and his allies, but left out referrals for multiple conspiracy allegations that were under consideration.
During their final business meeting on Capitol Hill, members did not vote on a seditious conspiracy charge, which is a serious allegation federal prosecutors have levied in cases against members of the right-wing groups the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers in connection to the Capitol riot, and one other mentioned in a summary released on Monday.
“It was just something that the committee didn’t come to agreement on,” Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-MS) told reporters about the seditious conspiracy charge.
The January 6 Committee did vote unanimously to recommend Trump be charged with obstructing an official proceeding, conspiring to defraud the United States, conspiring to make false statements to the federal government, and inciting an insurrection. Despite the highly publicized move, the Justice Department is under no obligation to act on the recommendations, and under the leadership of special counsel Jack Smith could seek other charges not included in the slate of referrals. The January 6 panel also voted to make ethics referrals against several House Republicans for refusing to comply with subpoenas.
The executive summary of the January 6 panel’s report offers insight into the referral decision-making process, including statutes members took under consideration for referrals but did not act upon during the public meeting Monday. One was the seditious conspiracy statute, which prohibits “conspir[acy] to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States … or to oppose by force the authority thereof, or by force to prevent, hinder or delay the execution of any law of the United States.” The other charge that was considered focused on a statute against conspiring to impede and injure an officer of the United States.
Although these particular statutes did not come to a vote Monday, the summary stresses that members “believe sufficient evidence exists for a criminal referral of President Trump,” and notes the Justice Department “through its investigative tools that exceed those of this Committee, may have evidence sufficient to prosecute” him.
“There is a rigorous factual proof following particular legal elements that are there. And we brought forth those offenses where we think it’s just clear that criminal conduct took place,” said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), a member of the panel, according to an Associated Press reporter.
The summary also mentions “concerns” about possible obstruction of the panel’s investigation and notes that the committee “concluded that it is critical” to hold accountable anyone who may have assisted a broad plan to overturn the 2020 election results. A final report is expected to be released on Wednesday.
Trump, who announced last month he is embarking on a third campaign for the White House, has broadly denied any wrongdoing, and he has chastised the January 6 panel as being the “Unselect Committee of political hacks.” A group of House Republicans, including those denied membership in the January 6 Committee by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), have prepared their own rebuttal report, which is expected to focus on law enforcement issues as well as intelligence gathering and dissemination by the FBI as they relate to the Capitol riot on January 6, 2021.