• Sat. Dec 3rd, 2022

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Jan. 6 panel has enough evidence to refer Trump for criminal charges, Cheney says

The House panel investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol has enough evidence to refer President Donald Trump for criminal charges, Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., said Sunday.

It’s absolutely clear that what President Trump was doing — what a number of people around him were doing — that they knew it was unlawful. They did it anyway,” Cheney, the vice chair and one of two Republicans on the committee, said on CNN’s “State of the Union” when host Jake Tapper asked her whether the panel had enough evidence to make a criminal referral for Trump. Cheney said the panel has not made a decision about moving forward with the referral.

The New York Times reported that the committee has concluded that it has enough evidence to make a criminal referral but that its leaders were divided over whether to do so.

“I think what we have seen is a massive and well-organized and well-planned effort that used multiple tools to try to overturn an election,” Cheney said. The committee has “got a tremendous amount of testimony and documents that I think very, very clearly demonstrate the extent of the planning and the organization and the objective.”

She added: “The objective was absolutely to try to stop the kind of electoral votes, to try to interfere with that official proceeding. And it’s absolutely clear that they knew what they were doing was wrong.”

She referred to a ruling in a civil suit involving the committee last month, in which a federal judge found that based on evidence, Trump most likely “attempted to obstruct the joint session of Congress” on the day of the attack, which would be a crime.

“The illegality of the plan was obvious,” U.S. District Judge David Carter wrote of Trump and lawyer John Eastman’s plan to have then-Vice President Mike Pence determine the results of the 2020 election. “Every American — and certainly the president of the United States — knows that in a democracy, leaders are elected, not installed. With a plan this ‘BOLD,’ President Trump knowingly tried to subvert this fundamental principle.”

The Jan. 6 panel made similar allegations in a court filing in the case last month, saying it had a “good-faith basis for concluding that the President and members of his Campaign engaged in a criminal conspiracy to defraud the United States.”

Trump, who has not been charged with a crime, has denied any wrongdoing.

In recent months, the panel has ramped up its investigation ahead of public hearings expected next month.

The House voted Wednesday to refer former Trump aides Peter Navarro and Dan Scavino to the Justice Department for criminal contempt of Congress after they refused to comply with subpoenas from the panel to testify and turn over documents.

The House previously voted to refer former Trump adviser Steve Bannon to the Justice Department for contempt of Congress for refusing to cooperate with the investigation. He was indicted by a grand jury in November and could face a year in prison and a fine of up to $100,000 if he is convicted.

The House in December also voted to refer former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows to the Justice Department for a criminal contempt charge. The Justice Department has not acted on Meadows’ referral.