Jan. 6 House panel to provide tips on criminal cases, Biden to ask DOJ for charges

WASHINGTON — The chairman of the House committee investigating last year’s Capitol riots said Tuesday that the panel intends to ask the Justice Department to file criminal charges.

Rep. Benny Thompson (D-Miss). according to Lisa Desjardins PBS.

Thompson made the announcement as members of Congress gathered on Jan. 6, 2021, to present the Congressional Gold Medal to riot police officers.

“Are you a criminal?” the reporter asked Thompson.

“Yes,” he said. according to CBS’s Robert Costa, before elaborating later.

It is unclear exactly who will be prosecuted. The Justice Department has already moved to file criminal contempt charges against two allies of former President Donald Trump who refused to comply with subpoenas from the election commission.

Rep. Benny Thompson (D-Miss.) did not say who the House committee on Jan. 6 would target with the criminal recommendations.
POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Former White House strategist Steve Bannon was sentenced to four months in prison for contempt in October. Another former West Wing aide, Peter Navarro — who, unlike Bannon, was a White House staffer during the turmoil — did not testify at the panel, citing executive privilege, and is awaiting trial.

It is unclear what allegations the committee is interested in. For example, lying to Congress is illegal, but such charges are rarely brought. The Justice Department has indicted at least 955 people allegedly involved in the riots.

Indictment recommendations from a Democratic-led panel could give federal prosecutors political protections before the committee disbands as Republicans are expected to take control of the House next month.

Capitol Riots
The Justice Department has indicted at least 955 people allegedly involved in the riots.
AFP via Getty Images

Attorney General Merrick Garland last month appointed special counsel Jack Smith, a veteran prosecutor, to look into the investigation into Trump, including his role in the events leading up to the violence. Trump has accused Smith of political bias, pointing out that his wife, Michelle Obama, produced the 2020 documentary “Becoming.”

The House Insurgency Committee consists of two Republicans, Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) excluded Trump-allied Republicans from attending, prompting some GOP leaders to denounce the panel as a “show court.”


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