WASHINGTON — Members of the House committee investigating the Capitol riot said Sunday they have found enough evidence for the Justice Department to consider an unprecedented criminal charge against former President Donald Trump for overturning the results of the 2020 elections.
“I would like the Justice Department to investigate any credible allegations of criminal activity on the part of Donald Trump,” said Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., a committee member who also heads the House Intelligence Committee. “There are certain actions, parts of these various attempts to reverse the election, that I see no evidence that the Justice Department is investigating.”
The committee held its first public hearing last week, during which members set out their case against Trump to show how the defeated president relentlessly pushed through his false claims of a rigged election despite multiple advisers telling him otherwise and how he staged an extraordinary plan to Joe Bidens undo. victory.
Additional evidence will be revealed this week during hearings that will show how Trump and his advisers made a “huge effort” to spread misinformation and pressured the Justice Department to accept his false claims.
Commissioners indicated on Sunday that their main audience in the course of the hearings could ultimately be Attorney General Merrick Garland, who must decide whether his department can and should prosecute Trump. They left no doubt that the evidence is sufficient.
“Once the evidence has been collected by the Justice Department, it must make a decision as to whether it can prove to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt the guilt of the president or someone else’s,” Schiff said. “But they should be investigated if there is credible evidence, which I think there is.”
Representative Jamie Raskin, D-Md., said he has no intention of “harming” Garland, but noted that the committee has already set out in legal pleadings a variety of criminal statutes they believe Trump has violated.
“I think he knows, his staff knows, the American lawyers know, what’s at stake here,” Raskin said. “They know how important it is, but I think they also rightly pay a lot of attention to precedents in history, such as the facts of this case.”
Garland has not specified how he should proceed, which would be unprecedented and could be complicated in a political election season where Trump is openly flirting with the idea of running for president again in 2024. “We will follow the facts wherever they lead,” Garland said in his speech at Harvard University’s opening ceremony last month.
A federal judge in California said in a March ruling in a civil case that Trump was “more likely than not” to have committed federal crimes by attempting to obstruct the counting of the Electoral College ballots on Jan. 6, 2021. The judge cited two statutes: obstruction of official proceedings and conspiracy to defraud the United States. Trump has denied all wrongdoing.
Schiff appeared on ABC’s “This Week” and Raskin spoke on CNN’s “State of the Union.”