January 6 subcommittee to examine criminal referrals it

The House January 6 select committee has created a subcommittee to examine the scope of potential criminal referrals it might make to the justice department over the Capitol attack as well as what materials to share with federal prosecutors, its chairman and other members said on Thursday.

The special subcommittee – led by Congressman Jamie Raskin, overseeing a four-person group that also involves Liz Cheney, Adam Schiff and Zoe Lofgren – has been chiefly focused on whether they have uncovered sufficient evidence that former US president Donald Trump violated civil and criminal statutes.

The subcommittee has also been tasked with resolving several other outstanding issues, the panel’s chairman Bennie Thompson said. They include what materials to share with the justice department before the end of December, and its response to Trump and Republican lawmakers who have not complied with subpoenas.

The question of whether and what referrals to make to the justice department has hovered over the investigation for months since the select committee’s lawyers came to believe that Trump was involved in a criminal conspiracy to defraud the United States and obstruct Congress over January 6.

In March, the panel laid out its theory of a potential case against Trump, saying in a court filing that it had accumulated enough evidence to suggest that Trump and conservative attorney John Eastman could be charged with criminal and civil violations.

The select committee then won a substantial victory when the US district court judge David Carter ruled that Trump “likely” committed multiple felonies in his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election and stop the congressional certification of Joe Biden’s election win.

But some members on the panel in recent months have questioned the need for referrals to the justice department, which has ramped up its investigation into the Capitol attack and issued subpoenas to Trump’s allies demanding appearances before at least two grand juries in Washington.

The debate, according to sources familiar with the matter, centered on whether making referrals might backfire if they are perceived to politically taint the criminal investigations hearing evidence about the fake electors scheme or the far-right groups that stormed the Capitol.

In an effort to make final determinations on the referral question, Thompson said he asked the four members – all of whom have legal backgrounds and in the case of Schiff, have federal prosecutorial experience – to form the special subcommittee.

The subcommittee is expected to make recommendations to Thompson around the start of December over what the referrals might look like, and advise on how to proceed with potential legal action against Trump and Republican lawmakers who defied the panel’s subpoenas, said a source familiar with the matter.

Meanwhile Thompson said the committee will release its report on the Capitol attack next month.

“Our goal is to get it completed soon so we can get it to the printer,” Thompson told reporters. “We plan to have our product out sometime in December.”