LIVE: Jan. 6 panel announces 4 criminal referrals for Donald Trump
After more than a year of investigating, the House select committee probing the 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol has just wrapped up its final meeting and sent its final report to Congress.
The panel voted to issue four criminal referrals for former President Donald Trump. It also referred four Republican members of Congress — Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, Scott Perry, R-Pa., Andy Biggs, R-Ariz. — to the House Ethics Committee for failure to comply with subpoenas.
Here's what else you need to know:
- The committee has released a 154-page document that it describes as its "introductory material" into the report.
- The document lays out 16 key findings, putting Trump's "plotting to overturn the election outcome" squarely at the center
- The four charges that the committee is referring against Trump include obstruction, conspiracy and inciting an insurrection.
This blog is closing for the day — but our coverage isn't stopping any time soon.
NPR's Washington desk will continue to bring you all the latest on the Jan. 6 panel's final report, the criminal referrals for Donald Trump and the aftermath of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
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Progressives have been irritated with Attorney General Merrick Garland’s methodical (read: slow) pace of pursuing charges against Trump. But it’s going to be up to the special counsel whether it brings charges or what they are.
They do not have to act on what the Jan. 6 committee recommends, though investigators are paying close attention to the details of its findings.
But don’t expect to hear much about the special counsel’s progress, as the DOJ tends to stay pretty quiet, if not wholly silent, on the details of ongoing investigations until they present them in court.
Politically, it’s going to be up to voters to choose. Trump will likely retain support with his base. As we noted, Republicans have been the least likely to be paying close attention to these hearings. In a multi-candidate primary, Trump remains the front-runner for the GOP nomination.
But he’s in legal trouble in multiple states, not just federally, and many of his preferred candidates – and election deniers – lost in swing states. So whether it’s because of the chaos that often surrounds him, the threat he presents to U.S. democracy and faith in its elections, or simply because his brand is not a winner in competitive states where Republicans likely need to win to take over the White House and Congress, Trump is at his most vulnerable point since winning the presidency six years ago.
And the members of this committee – some of whom won’t be returning to Congress because of the wrath, or potential wrath, of Trump’s base – certainly hope voters respond.
“The future of our democracy rests in your hands,” chairman Bennie Thompson D-Miss. said today. “It’s up to the people to decide who is deserving of the public trust.”
➡️A full set of takeaways from NPR's Senior Political Editor, Domenico Montanaro, will be available on NPR.org tomorrow morning.
The final report from the House panel investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol is expected to be released on Wednesday.
The full report is expected to be 8 chapters long. It will include additional evidence, detailed descriptions of the scheme pushed by Trump and his allies to overturn the 2020 election results, and more tidbits from key witnesses. Citations from the interviews the panel conducted – over 1,000 over the 18 month investigation – are included in the full report.
That report will also include legislative recommendations for measures Congress can enact to avoid another January 6.
One bill clarifying how Congress certifies presidential election results, updating the Electoral Count Act, has already been approved in different forms by the House and the Senate and is expected to be attached to the annual budget bill both chambers are expected to vote on this week.
Separately Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., has told reporters that the panel will release transcripts of non-sensitive interviews between now and December 31st, when the committee will sunset.
We're still waiting on the Jan. 6 committee to publicly release the full text of its final report, the culmination of its year-and-a-half long investigation into the attack at the U.S. Capitol. The committee voted today to send that report to Congress.
Publicly, they released a 154-page document they've described as "introductory material." The document is mostly a recap of the findings the committee has rolled out in nine previous public hearings.
The committee makes a series of specific points about how former President Donald Trump "plotted to overturn the election outcome."
As a sample, the committee claims that Trump:
- "purposely disseminated false allegations of fraud" related to the election
- failed to honor his constitutional duties as president
- "corruptly pressured Vice President Mike Pence to refuse to count electoral votes during Congress’s joint session on January 6th"
- unlawfully pressured state officials and legislators to change the election results
- oversaw an effort to send false electoral certificates to Congress
- pressured members of Congress to object to valid electors
- verified false information filed in federal court
- summoned thousands of his supporters to Washington on Jan. 6 based on false claims that the election was stolen
- further incited violence by tweeting about then-Vice President Mike Pence on Jan. 6
- refused repeated requests to ask his supporters to disperse
The Jan. 6 panel has urged the House Ethics Committee to review the actions of four Republican lawmakers who refused to comply with subpoenas for their testimony during the panel's investigation.
Here are the four Republicans and what the Jan. 6 committee says they did:
- House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy: McCarthy spoke to Trump by phone from the Capitol on Jan. 6 as rioters were breaking into the building, but he has not publicly described what was said during the call. After the riot, McCarthy initially said he believed Trump bore responsibility for the attack. But he soon traveled to Mar-a-Lago and quieted his criticism of Trump. He has since opposed the investigation.
- Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio: Jordan, a longtime Trump ally, regularly communicated with Trump, the president's lawyers and various other aides and event organizers in the run-up to Jan. 6, including a forwarded text message publicized by the committee that urged Trump's chief of staff to consider having then-Vice President Mike Pence declare certain electoral votes unconstitutional. Jordan also spoke by phone with Trump on Jan. 6, although he says he does not recall when or how often they spoke.
- Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania: Perry, a vehement election denier, was in touch with outside attorneys and officials at the Department of Justice about the plot to not certify the election results. In particular, he helped connect Trump with Jeffrey Clark, the DOJ lawyer who met with Trump and drafted a letter urging state officials to appoint new electors.
- Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona: Biggs reportedly helped organize the Jan. 6 rally, according to Ali Alexander, who founded the pro-Trump Stop the Steal organization. He was part of a group of House Republicans, along with Jordan and Perry, who took part in a December 2020 meeting at the White House where Trump and his allies tried to pressure Pence into overturning the election.
The subpoenas were issued in May.
A fifth House Republican, Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama, also defied the subpoena but was not referred for investigation. He did not seek reelection in the House this year and will not return to Congress in January.
It's unlikely that anything will come of the ethics complaints. The current session of Congress is quickly drawing to a close, and in January, control of the House will pass to Republicans, who are unlikely to follow up.
It’s no secret that the country is divided politically and partisanship, particularly among Republicans, has become entrenched. So despite the primary evidence – with testimony from Republicans who were aligned with Trump – people have been watching selectively.
The committee in its report recognized this:
“Although the Committee’s hearings were viewed live by tens of millions of Americans and widely publicized in nearly every major news source, the Committee also recognizes that other news outlets and commentators have actively discouraged viewers from watching, and that millions of other Americans have not yet seen the actual evidence addressed by this Report.”
So the committee said it’s releasing video summaries with each relevant piece of evidence. And it’s likely why the beginning of the hearing included so many clips of previously seen testimony from past hearings, almost like the recap of a prior season of a series on Netflix.
There is evidence to suggest those who watched were moved. Before the hearings, just 48% of independents in an NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll said they thought Trump was to blame a “great deal” or “good amount” for what happened that day. After several hearings, the July survey found that the percentage blaming Trump spiked to 57%.
Republicans were only up marginally – and still fewer than 1-in-5 said Trump was responsible for what happened.
Eighty percent of Democrats and 55% of independents said they were paying “a lot” or “some” attention to the hearings. But 56% of Republicans said they were not.
It’s not hard to draw a straight line between the numbers of those paying attention and the movement – or lack thereof – in the survey.
➡️A full set of takeaways from NPR's Senior Political Editor, Domenico Montanaro, will be available on NPR.org tomorrow morning.
It's now been more than an hour after the Jan. 6 committee hearing wrapped, and former President Donald Trump has made only one comment related to today's hearing: A knock on Vice Chair Liz Cheney's primary loss in August.
"...But Liz Chaney lost by a record 40 points!" he wrote, misspelling Cheney's name in a post on Truth Social, the social media network he founded in the wake of his bans from mainstream platforms like Twitter and Facebook after the riot at the Capitol.
Cheney, a Republican who is Wyoming's sole representative in the House, lost in the August primary to her Trump-endorsed challenger by 37.4 percentage points. As a result, she will not return to Congress next year.
On a day when the House committee referred him for criminal prosecution on four different charges, Trump instead focused most of his public statements on two other subjects: the possibility of a Trump-era immigration policy known as Title 42 coming to an end, and conservative media reports about content moderation decisions at Twitter during the 2020 election campaign.
On Sunday, Trump complained that the committee was "highly partisan" and accused its members of "illegally leaking" confidential information.
"How much longer are Republicans, and American Patriots in general, going to allow this to happen," he wrote.
And he applauded the reinstatement of his Twitter account and his two public posts on Jan. 6 asking rioters to "remain peaceful." Those tweets were sent long after he urged his supporters to march on the Capitol; by the time he made his first post, rioters had already been inside the Capitol for nearly 30 minutes, and at least one rioter was already dead, according to the timeline established by the Jan. 6 committee's investigation.
Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio is one of the four Republicans that the Jan. 6 panel referred to the House Ethics Committee for failing to comply with a subpoena.
In a statement, a spokesperson for his office said the referral was "just another partisan and political stunt."
The other three members of congress facing referrals have yet to weigh in publicly.
The most high-profile among them is Rep. Kevin McCarthy, who is likely facing a bruising path to be Speaker of the House when Republicans take control of the chamber in the new year.
The House Ethics Committee is not likely to take any action on the referrals announced today. The panel is evenly divided with four Republicans and four Democrats, and Republicans would not likely support any investigation even if they had time to do one before this session of Congress ends in January.
🎧Listen to some of the challenges McCarthy is facing on NPR's Politics Podcast.
After hours of public testimony over six months, NPR correspondents shared the moments from the Jan. 6 committee that stood out to them.
National Justice Correspondent Carrie Johnson told NPR's Ari Shapiro that she'll "forever remember" the accounts of law enforcement officials, including Caroline Edwards, who testified about watching fellow officers "slipping in pools of their own blood" while defending the Capitol.
Congressional Correspondent Deirdre Walsh said she will remember the testimony of Cassidy Hutchinson, the aide to former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. Hutchinson "was kind of a no-name or low-level staffer, who became sort of a big public figure for her firsthand account of those around the president, including the president of the United States, who knew that his supporters were armed and sent them to the Capitol anyway," Walsh said.
In the introductory report materials just made public, the Jan. 6 committee raised additional potential charges against Trump related to Seditious Conspiracy.
The possible conspiracy charges were recently in the news because members members of the Oath Keepers were convicted for violating these criminal codes.
The committee recognizes its limitations on these two charges, but says: “The Department of Justice, through its investigative tools that exceed those of this Committee, may have evidence sufficient to prosecute President Trump under Sections 372 and 2384.
"Accordingly, we believe sufficient evidence exists for a criminal referral of President Trump under these two statutes.”
It adds: “Depending on evidence developed by the Department of Justice, the President’s actions with the knowledge of the risk of violence could also constitute a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 372 and § 2384, both of which require proof of a conspiracy.”
Speaking to reporters outside the hearing room, Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., said that the referrals the committee did make were the ones where "it's clear that criminal conduct took place."
The prospect of any further charges is "a judgment that the Department of Justice will have to make," Raskin said.