Jan. 6 Panel to Consider Criminal Referrals Against Trump and Allies in Final Session

WASHINGTON — The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol plans on Monday to consider issuing criminal referrals against former President Donald J. Trump and his top allies during a final meeting as it prepares to release a voluminous report laying out its findings about the attempt to overturn the 2020 election.

The committee announced a business meeting scheduled for 1 p.m. Monday during which members are expected to discuss the forthcoming report and recommendations for legislative changes, and to consider both criminal and civil referrals against individuals it has concluded broke laws or committed ethical violations.

Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi and the chairman of the committee, said the panel was considering referrals to “five or six” different entities, including the Justice Department, the House Ethics Committee, the Federal Election Commission and bar associations. Such referrals, which the committee is slated to approve as it adopts its report, would not carry any legal weight or compel any action, but they would send a powerful signal that a congressional committee believes that the individuals cited committed crimes or other infractions.

In the case of Mr. Trump, an official finding that a former president should be prosecuted for violating the law would be a rare and unusual step for the legislative branch to take.

In addition to the former president, the panel is likely to consider referring some of his allies to the Justice Department, including John Eastman, a conservative lawyer who was an architect of Mr. Trump’s efforts to invalidate his electoral defeat. The committee has argued in court that Mr. Eastman most likely violated two federal laws for his role in the scheme, including obstructing an official act of Congress and defrauding the American public.

“Stay tuned,” Mr. Thompson told reporters this week, declining to divulge any charges or individuals who would be named. “We’re going with what we think are the strongest arguments.”

The panel plans to release a portion of its eight-chapter final report into the effort to block the peaceful transfer of power from Mr. Trump to Joseph R. Biden Jr. The committee’s full report is scheduled for release on Wednesday. Additional attachments and transcripts will be released before the end of the year, according to a committee aide who spoke on the condition of anonymity without authorization to discuss the plans in advance.


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Representative Jamie Raskin, Democrat of Maryland and the committee member whom Mr. Thompson tasked with studying criminal referrals, said the panel would present evidence of the alleged wrongdoing along with the names of the individuals it is referring to the Justice Department.

“We are focused on key players where there is sufficient evidence or abundant evidence that they committed crimes,” Mr. Raskin said. “We’re focused on crimes that go right to the heart of the constitutional order, such that the Congress can’t remain silent.”

The final report — which contains a lengthy executive summary of more than 100 pages — roughly mirrors the presentation of the committee’s investigative hearings that drew wide viewership over the summer. Chapter topics include Mr. Trump’s spreading of lies about the election, the creation of fake slates of pro-Trump electors in states won by Mr. Biden, and the former president’s pressure campaign against state officials, the Justice Department and former Vice President Mike Pence as he sought to overturn his defeat.

The committee’s report is also expected to document how Mr. Trump summoned a mob of his supporters to Washington and then did nothing to stop them as they attacked the Capitol for more than three hours. It will also include a detailed analysis of the breach of the Capitol.

“This report is written with some energy and precision and focus,” Mr. Raskin said, adding: “We’re all determined that this be a report that is made part of the national dialogue. We don’t want it to just sit up on a shelf.”

The panel has already endorsed overhauling the Electoral Count Act, the law that Mr. Trump and his allies tried to exploit on Jan. 6, 2021, 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.

“We obviously want to complete the story for the American people,” Mr. Raskin said. “Everybody has come on a journey with us, and we want a satisfactory conclusion, such that people feel that Congress has done its job.”

He said the panel would also seek to address what must be done to prevent an event like the Jan. 6 attack from happening again.

“That’s the heart of it,” Mr. Raskin said, “because we think there is a clear, continuing present danger to democracy today.”

Stephanie Lai contributed reporting.

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