January 6 committee members reject suggestion that criminal dismissals will be ‘largely symbolic’
Democrats on the House Jan. 6 committee on Sunday pushed back against the idea that any criminal referrals by the panel to the Justice Department would simply be “symbolic” and for political purposes.
As the committee prepares to release its final report on last year’s attack on the U.S. Capitol on Dec. 21, members are weighing who to recommend the DOJ investigate and prosecute for potential crimes.
Lawyers noted that any criminal referral would be non-binding and would come after the DOJ has already been investigating the case for more than a year.
“It’s largely symbolic because at the time we started having this debate about a removal, it wasn’t clear how far along the Department of Justice was,” the former U.S. attorney said. Preet Bharara on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “The Ministry of Justice has since appointed a special counsel, as we mentioned. And they had a lot of staff that they added to the question. And they’re away, and they’ve issued subpoenas that we’ve heard about. They’re investigating this thing anyway.
Mr Bharara added that he believes the removals will have “no impact on the Ministry of Justice”.
Members of the Jan. 6 panel rebutted that claim on Sunday and defended the work they carried out as it draws to a close at the end of the year.
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The committee’s list of potential criminal references reportedly includes former President Donald Trump, former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows, former Trump attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani, former DOJ official Jeffrey Clark and attorney curator John Eastman.
“How much evidence do we have against individuals? What is the impact of a referral? Are we going to create a suggestion by dismissing some, that others there was not enough evidence, when we don’t know, for example, what evidence is in the Justice Department’s position? Rep. Adam Schiff, a California Democrat and committee member, said on “Face the Nation” on CBS. “If we do referrals, we want to be very careful how we do them. But I think we all certainly agree that there is evidence of criminality here, and we want to make sure the Department of Justice is aware of it.
Mr. Schiff said the committee is meeting later in the day to discuss potential referrals.
“I think this makes an important statement, not political, but a statement about the evidence of an attack on the institutions of our democracy and the peaceful transfer of power, which Congress considering an attack on itself is prepared to report. crime,” he added.
Representative Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, one of two Republican members on the panel, offered a less than throaty defense. He said while he didn’t think “referrals to criminals were unnecessary”, he suggested they were mostly “symbolic”.
“The criminal referrals themselves aren’t necessarily something that’s going to wake up the DOJ to something they didn’t know before, but I think it will be an important and symbolic thing the committee can do,” Ms. Kinzinger on ABC’s “This Week.” “Even more than symbolic. Just very clear that Congress thinks a crime has been committed here or that the DOJ should investigate it.