Capitol riot: US January 6 panel refers former president Donald Trump for criminal charges

WASHINGTON: A legislative panel that investigated the January 6 attack on the US Capitol unanimously agreed on Monday to refer criminal charges against former president Donald Trump to the Justice Department, triggering more volatile partisan battles in an already deeply divided nation.
After an 18-month probe into the assault that shook the country, the nine-member committee, with seven Democrats and two Republicans, recommended that prosecutors pursue four charges against Trump: obstruction of an official proceeding of Congress, conspiracy to defraud the United States, inciting or assisting an insurrection, and conspiracy to make a false statement.
It is an unprecedented moment in US history: the first time Congress has recommended criminal charges against a former president. If the Justice Department — which is expected to march to its own tune — takes up the referral and goes on to prosecute and convict Trump, he will not only face prison time but will also be disbarred from running for office again.
“The committee believes that more than sufficient evidence exists for a criminal referral of former President Trump for assisting or aiding and comforting those at the Capitol who engaged in a violent attack on the United States. The committee has developed significant evidence that President Trump intended to disrupt the peaceful transfer transition of our under our Constitution,” panel member Democrat Congressman Jamie Raskin of Maryland said.
As expected, Trump denied the charges and took to his “Truth Social” platform to rage against what he saw as a plot to keep him from running for the White House in 2024.
“The people understand that the Democratic Bureau of Investigation, the DBI, are out to keep me from running for president because they know I’ll win and that this whole business of prosecuting me is just like impeachment was – a partisan attempt to sideline me and the Republican Party,” he wrote.
The former President and his most ardent supporters believe the charges will only turbocharge his 2024 campaign, which is spluttering on account of internecine Republican battles and a section of GOP waiting to see if he will self-destruct or be taken down by the multitude of challenges he faces.
Asserting in all caps that “I DID NOTHING WRONG,” and “What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger,” the former president said on Monday, “These folks don’t get it that when they come after me, people who love freedom rally around me. It strengthens me.” He also raged against “two-tiered justice system” that was failing to address the “massive number of crimes committed by both Joe and Hunter Biden” that were “documented and 100 percent certain.”
Trump’s troubles are far from over though. Another Congressional panel is expected to release Trump’s tax returns later this week in an effort to expose his sketchy financial dealings. The January 6 committee, which released only a 160-page executive summary on Monday, is also sitting on a ton of documents, including nearly 1,200 witness interview transcripts that showed his attempt to derail the peaceful transfer of power in graphic detail.
In one such excerpt screened on Monday, former Trump aide Hope Hicks relates how the then President shrugged off concerns from advisers around him that his claims of fraud during the 2020 presidential election could damage his legacy.
“I was becoming increasingly concerned that we were damaging his legacy,” Hicks tells the January 6 panel. In response, she says, Trump “said something along the lines of, ‘Nobody will care about my legacy if I lose, so that won’t matter. The only thing that matters is winning.’”

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