Jan. 6 Panel Accuses Trump of Insurrection and Refers Him to Justice Dept.

WASHINGTON — The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol accused former President Donald J. Trump on Monday of inciting insurrection, conspiracy to defraud the United States, obstruction of an act of Congress and one other federal crime as it referred him to the Justice Department for potential prosecution.

The action, the first time in American history that Congress has referred a former president for criminal prosecution, is the coda to the committee’s 18-month investigation into Mr. Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 election that culminated in a violent mob of the former president’s supporters laying siege to the Capitol.

The criminal referrals were a major escalation for a congressional investigation that is the most significant in a generation. The panel named five other Trump allies — Mark Meadows, his final chief of staff, and the lawyers Rudolph W. Giuliani, John Eastman, Jeffrey Clark and Kenneth Chesebro — as potential co-conspirators with Mr. Trump in actions the committee said warranted Justice Department investigation. The charges, including a fourth for Mr. Trump of conspiracy to make a false statement, would carry prison sentences, some of them lengthy, if federal prosecutors chose to pursue them.

The committee’s referrals do not carry legal weight or compel any action by the Justice Department, which is conducting its own investigation into Jan. 6 and the actions of Mr. Trump and his allies leading up to the attack. But the referrals sent a powerful signal that a bipartisan committee of Congress believes the former president committed crimes.

A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment on the referrals.

Mr. Trump attacked the committee as “highly partisan” ahead of a final meeting the panel held on Monday to release an executive summary of its final report on the Capitol attack and to vote on referring the former president to the Justice Department.

“It’s a kangaroo court,” Mr. Trump said Monday on “The Dan Bongino Show.” “The people aren’t going to stand for it.” He elaborated on that theme in a post on Truth Social, his social media network, after the meeting.

“These folks don’t get it that when they come after me, people who love freedom rally around me. It strengthens me,” he said, adding that he “told everyone to go home” on Jan. 6, but leaving out his hours of inaction before that while a mob of his supporters rampaged through the Capitol.

Republicans, who have vowed to investigate the committee after they take control of the House in January, mounted a modest response. Representative Elise Stefanik of New York, the No. 3 House Republican, was one of the few to react with a statement, accusing the committee of staging a “partisan charade.” She promised that Republicans “will hold House Democrats accountable for their illegitimate abuse of power.”

The executive summary, a 154-page narrative of Mr. Trump’s relentless drive to remain in power after he lost the 2020 election by seven million votes, identifies co-conspirators who aided Mr. Trump. But it singles out the former president as the primary cause of the mob violence.

“That evidence has led to an overriding and straightforward conclusion: The central cause of Jan. 6 was one man, former President Donald Trump, who many others followed,” the summary stated. “None of the events of Jan. 6 would have happened without him.”

The summary closely follows the evidence from the committee’s 10 previous public hearings, but the facts have been assembled into a readable narrative that amounts to an astonishing story of Mr. Trump’s efforts to effectively overthrow the government he led. The committee is expected to release a lengthy final report on Wednesday.

“Every president in our history has defended this orderly transfer of authority, except one,” Representative Liz Cheney, the Wyoming Republican and vice chairwoman of the committee, said at the start of the meeting.

Representative Jamie Raskin, Democrat of Maryland and a member of the committee, said of Mr. Trump: “Nothing could be a greater betrayal of this duty than to assist in insurrection against the constitutional order.”

The summary and referrals have now set up a dynamic without parallel in the annals of American campaigns: Congress asking the Justice Department of an incumbent president to consider criminal charges against the president’s potential opponent in the next election. President Biden has indicated his intent to run in 2024, and Mr. Trump announced his re-election campaign last month.

The summary laid out step by step how Mr. Trump sought to cling to power, much as the committee did during its televised hearings in the summer. First, the summary said, Mr. Trump lied about widespread fraud, despite being told his claims were false. He then organized false slates of electors in states won by Mr. Biden as he pressured state officials, the Justice Department and Vice President Mike Pence to overturn the election. Finally, he amassed a mob of his supporters to march on the Capitol, where they engaged in hours of bloody violence while Mr. Trump did nothing to call them off.

“Even key individuals who worked closely with President Trump to try to overturn the 2020 election on Jan. 6 ultimately admitted that they lacked actual evidence sufficient to change the election result, and they admitted that what they were attempting was unlawful,” the committee wrote.

The panel also referred four Republican members of Congress to the House Ethics Committee — including the man seeking to become the next speaker, Representative Kevin McCarthy of California — because of their refusal to comply with the panel’s subpoenas.

Mr. McCarthy’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

The other Republicans referred were Representatives Jim Jordan of Ohio, Scott Perry of Pennsylvania and Andy Biggs of Arizona.

A spokesman for Mr. Jordan, Russell Dye, said in a statement that the referral was “just another partisan and political stunt.” A spokesman for Mr. Perry, Jay Ostrich, said the committee was engaged in “more games from a petulant and soon-to-be kangaroo court.’’

Mr. Biggs said in a tweet that the referral was the committee’s “final political stunt” and that he looked forward to “reviewing their documents, publishing their lies and setting the record straight” in the next Congress.

In its summary, the committee did not entirely resolve disputed accounts of what happened inside the presidential S.U.V. when Mr. Trump was told by his Secret Service agents that they could not take him to the Capitol to join the crowd on Jan. 6. Cassidy Hutchinson, a former White House aide, testified under oath to the committee in public last summer that Anthony M. Ornato, a White House deputy chief of staff, told her that Mr. Trump grew so angry that he lunged at his Secret Service agent and tried to grab the steering wheel. The Secret Service denied that account anonymously.

The summary said only that the “committee has now obtained evidence from several sources about a ‘furious interaction’” that occurred in the S.U.V. “The vast majority of witnesses who have testified to the select committee about this topic, including multiple members of the Secret Service, a member of the Metropolitan Police and national security officials in the White House, described President Trump’s behavior as ‘irate,’ ‘furious,’ ‘insistent,’ ‘profane’ and ‘heated.’”

The committee’s summary also concluded that there was no nefarious reason for why the National Guard was delayed for hours in responding to violence of Jan. 6.

“Although evidence identifies a likely miscommunication between members of the civilian leadership in the Department of Defense impacting the timing of deployment, the committee has found no evidence that the Department of Defense intentionally delayed deployment of the National Guard,” the committee wrote. “The select committee recognizes that some at the department had genuine concerns, counseling caution, that President Trump might give an illegal order to use the military in support of his efforts to overturn the election.”

In its summary, the panel asked the Justice Department to investigate whether anyone had interfered with or obstructed the panel’s investigation, including whether any lawyers paid for by groups connected to Mr. Trump “may have advised clients to provide false or misleading testimony to the committee.”

Among the committee’s findings, revealed at its meeting on Monday, was that lawmakers became concerned that lawyers who were paid by Trump associates may have tried to interfere with the panel’s investigation. The panel also learned that a client was offered potential employment that would make her “financially very comfortable” as the date of her testimony approached. But then offers were withdrawn or did not materialize as reports of the content of her testimony circulated, the committee said.

The committee also chastised certain witnesses that it said had not been forthright with investigators. It said it had “significant concerns about the credibility” of the testimony of Mr. Ornato.

The committee also said Kayleigh McEnany, one of Mr. Trump’s former press secretaries, and Ivanka Trump, the president’s elder daughter, had been less than forthcoming.

The summary demonstrated, as the committee’s hearings did, how despite being told repeatedly that his claims of election fraud were false, Mr. Trump kept up the lies.

Bill Stepien, a former White House political director, told the committee how he and others would investigate the claims, find them to be false, and report back to the president. “It’s an easier job to be telling the president about, you know, wild allegations,” Mr. Stepien said. “It’s a harder job to be telling him on the back end that, yeah, that wasn’t true.”

The summary also contained evidence that certain White House aides had grown concerned about the potential for violence on Jan. 6 and urged Mr. Trump to make a pre-emptive statement calling for peace. No such statement was made.

Hope Hicks, a former White House communications director, said she suggested “several times” on Jan. 4 and 5 that Mr. Trump “publicly state that Jan. 6 must remain peaceful, and that he had refused her advice to do so,” the panel wrote.

The panel played new video from Ms. Hicks, who described a conversation with Mr. Trump.

“I was becoming increasingly concerned that we were damaging his legacy,” Ms. Hicks said she told the president.

Mr. Trump’s response? “Nobody will care about my legacy if I lose, so that won’t matter. The only thing that matters is winning,” she recalled him saying.

While the executive summary of the report focused heavily on Mr. Trump, it did conclude some findings about law enforcement failures, a topic not previously addressed at the panel’s hearings. “No analysis recognized the full scale and extent of the threat to the Capitol on Jan. 6,” the committee wrote, although the “intelligence community and law enforcement agencies did successfully detect the planning for potential violence on Jan. 6, including planning specifically by the Proud Boys and Oath Keeper militia groups who ultimately led the attack on the Capitol.”

Over the past year and a half, the committee interviewed more than 1,000 witnesses, obtained more than one million documents, issued more than 100 subpoenas and held hearings that drew millions of viewers.

The House created the Jan. 6 committee after Senate Republicans used a filibuster to defeat a proposal to create an independent commission to investigate the attack.

The committee — made up of seven Democrats and two Republicans — consistently broke new ground for a congressional investigation. Staffed with more than a dozen former federal prosecutors, the panel set a new production standard for how to hold a congressional hearing. It also got significantly ahead of a parallel Justice Department investigation into the events of Jan. 6, with federal prosecutors later interviewing many of the same witnesses Congress had spoken to.

In recent weeks, federal prosecutors under the supervision of a special counsel have issued subpoenas to officials in seven states in which the Trump campaign organized electors to falsely certify the election for Mr. Trump despite the voters choosing Mr. Biden.

Lawmakers on the panel also believe they played a significant role in elevating the issue of threats to democracy to voters, who rejected many election deniers in the November midterms.

In terms of legislative recommendations, the panel has already endorsed overhauling the Electoral Count Act, the law that Mr. Trump and his allies tried to exploit on Jan. 6 in an attempt to cling to power. Lawmakers have also discussed changes to the Insurrection Act and legislation to enforce the 14th Amendment’s prohibition on insurrectionists holding office. Those recommendations are expected to be detailed in the committee’s final report.

Katie Benner and Anushka Patil contributed reporting.

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