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Jan. 6 Committee Recommends Criminal Charges Against Donald Trump

AUSTIN, TEXAS - MAY 14: Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during the American Freedom Tour at the Austin Convention Center on May 14, 2022 in Austin, Texas. The national event gathered conservatives from around the country to defend, empower and help promote conservative agendas nationwide. (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

AUSTIN, TEXAS - MAY 14: Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during the American Freedom Tour at the Austin Convention Center on May 14, 2022 in Austin, Texas. The national event gathered conservatives from around the country to defend, empower and help promote conservative agendas nationwide. (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

Donald Trump.
Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty

The U.S. House committee investigating the riots of Jan. 6, 2021, has officially recommended that the Department of Justice lay four criminal charges against former President Donald Trump, including conspiracy to defraud the government and inciting an insurrection.

Saying that Trump “wanted to ride in like Mussolini on the shoulders of the mob,” Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin announced that the committee had voted to refer the 75-year-old former president to the Department of Justice for allegedly obstructing an official proceeding, conspiracy to defraud the government, inciting an insurrection and conspiracy to make a false statement.

Raskin added that the committee would refer Trump attorney John Eastman for allegedly obstructing an official proceeding and conspiracy to defraud the government.

According to a preview of the committee’s final report, they will also refer four members of congress to the House Ethics Committee for refusing to comply with subpoenas: House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy, Rep. Jim Jordan, Rep. Scott Perry and Rep. Andy Biggs.

John Eastman

John Eastman

John Eastman.
Susan Walsh/AP/Shutterstock

Eastman, a former professor at Chapman University, has described himself as Trump’s attorney who was assisting the then-president in his efforts to prove that the 2020 election was “stolen.”

But, according to filings made public by the committee earlier, Eastman was more than an adviser: “He spoke at the rally on the morning of January 6, spreading proven falsehoods to the tens of thousands of people attending that rally, and appears to have a broader role in many of the specific issues the Select Committee is investigating.”

In response to questions posed by the committee, Eastman has invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, the filing says, and has attempted to “conceal a range of relevant documents behind claims of attorney-client privilege and work-product protection.”

As the criminal referrals themselves carry no official legal weight, they are largely symbolic — and come just weeks before Republicans gain control of the House, effectively putting an end to the committee’s work altogether. It will now to be up to the Justice Department to determine whether or not to charge the former president or Eastman.

January 6th Insurrection

January 6th Insurrection

Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021.
Michael Nigro/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty

The referrals come as the Justice Department is already looking into the events surrounding Jan. 6, and has for months been hearing testimony in a criminal probe of the riots.

Recent testimonies by those close to former Vice President Mike Pence offer an indication that the Justice Department’s criminal investigation into Jan. 6 is intensifying, per recent reporting by The New York Times.

The committee’s hearings, which began airing publicly in June, have featured new revelations about the events leading up to the attacks and how Trump and his allies responded.

Among the most notable allegations are that Trump at one point attempted to force his Secret Service agents to drive him to the Capitol building himself as his supporters were descending on the building.

The House committee’s final report is set be released Wednesday, and will provide the DOJ additional evidence to work with while they consider potential charges.

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Trump has consistently embraced the extremism expressed by those who participated in the Capitol riots, which ended in the death of one Capitol police officer who died after being beaten by the rioters. Several other officers were also beaten, some sustaining life-threatening injuries.

Since leaving office in 2021, Trump has continued to express solidarity for the rioters who broke in to the Capitol that day, filming a video as recently as this month in which he said they had been treated “very, very unfairly.”

The announcement of the criminal referrals comes amid several other investigations into Trump, including one of handling of classified documents after leaving office.