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The Prospect that a Former President May be Criminally Charged Could be a Real Possibility

The news announced in the week before Christmas that the January 6 Congressional Committee holds former President Donald Trump “directly responsible” for the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol was not surprising to a majority of Americans — but it was stark. Given how slowly the wheels of government normally turn — the fact that this bipartisan committee wrapped up its work in 18 months is impressive; more so because the subject matter is something the U.S. has never dealt with until now.

The massive, 814-page report was released just ahead of the holiday and it places the blame for the January 6, 2021 insurrection squarely on Trump.

“Our country has come too far to allow a defeated President to turn himself into a successful tyrant by upending our democratic institutions, fomenting violence,” wrote the committee’s chairman, Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, in the report’s foreword. “And, as I saw it, opening the door to those in our country whose hatred and bigotry threaten equality and justice for all Americans.”

The report was published several days after the final hearing by the bipartisan panel, in which its members unanimously voted that Trump be recommended to the Department of Justice (DOJ) for four criminal charges .

Liz Cheney, Vice Chair of the Jan. 6 House Select Committee investigating the insurrection events. Image courtesy of Washington Post

Just days earlier in their final public hearing, the Jan. 6 committee recommended that Trump and his inside supporters be charged with:

  • Obstruction of an official proceeding
  • Conspiracy to defraud the United States
  • Conspiracy to make a false statement
  • Inciting, assisting, or giving aid or comfort to an insurrection.

In addition, they said that the DOJ might find evidence to support other conspiracy charges, including seditious conspiracy.

The report detailed in stark terms the results of its 18-month investigation. By all standards — the committee and its work was exhaustive. It held more than 1,000 witness interviews.  It reviewed more than one million pages of materials and met continuously for months. It found a “multi-part conspiracy” organized and led by Trump. He was aided in his goal of overturning his 2020 election defeat by close allies such as Mark Meadows, John Eastman, Rudy Giuliani, and others.

Two strategic aspects of the report  are clear:

  • First — the enormous and detailed report very clearly lays out the multi-pronged nature of the effort… and that it began even before the election   — NOT as many had believed as a spontaneous single event on January 6. The effort was a multi-pronged campaign of lies cultivated with the public, a fake elector scheme, and a pressure campaign; on states, on federal officials, and especially on Vice President Mike Pence, right up to the vote certification and even as the mob was attacking the Capitol building and calling to “hang Mike Pence.”.
  • Not only has the January 6 committee of seven Democrats and two Republicans gone on record that this has to be prevented from ever happening again in our democracy — they also went on record that Trump, who is running again for the presidency, should be prevented from ever returning to power because of the damage already done to our democracy, and the danger he represents.

The panel made several recommendations, including that Congress should ban Trump and those who helped him from federal office for his role in directly instigating the insurrection. That day marketed the first time in U.S. history when a U.S. President defeated in a free and fair election refused to cooperate in the peaceful transition of power. Instead, his last-ditch effort to somehow remain in power was to incite a violent mob of his supporters to storm the Capitol in an attempt to stop the legislative duty of the Vice President to lead the certification of President Joe Biden’s victory.

Ark Valley Voice will follow with a more in-depth look at the actions behind the charges.