WASHINGTON (AP) — Members of the House committee investigating the Capitol riot said on Sunday it uncovered enough evidence for the Justice Department to consider an unprecedented indictment against former President Donald Trump for seeking to overturn the 2020 election results.
The committee announced that Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien was among the witnesses scheduled to testify at a Monday hearing that focuses on Trump’s efforts to spread his lies about a stolen election. Stepien was subpoenaed for his public testimony.
As the hearings progressed, Rep. Adam Schiff said he wanted the department to “investigate any credible allegations of criminal activity by Donald Trump.” Schiff, D-California, who also heads the House Intelligence Committee, said that “there are certain actions, parties from these different lines of effort to nullify the election on which I see no evidence that the Department of Justice is investigating.”
The commission has launched its public hearings last week, with members laying out their case against Trump to show how the defeated president relentlessly pushed his false claims of a rigged election despite several advisers telling him otherwise and how he stepped up an extraordinary plan to reverse the victory of Joe Biden.
Additional evidence is to be released during hearings this week, Democrats say it will demonstrate that Trump and some of his advisers have engaged in a “massive effort” to spread disinformation, pressured the Justice Department to accept his false claims and urged the Vice then-President Mike Pence to reject voters in the state and block the vote. certified on January 6, 2021.
Stepien, a longtime Trump ally, is now a top campaign adviser to Trump-endorsed House candidate in Wyoming’s Republican primary, Harriet Hageman, who is challenging Rep. Liz Cheney., vice-chairman of the committee and vocal critic of the former president. A Trump spokesman, Taylor Budowich, suggested the committee’s decision to call Stepien was politically motivated.
Monday’s witness list also includes BJay Pak, Atlanta’s top federal prosecutor who quit his post on Jan. 4, 2021, a day after the release of an audio recording in which Trump called him “never Trump”; Chris Stirewalt, the former political editor of Fox News; noted Washington election attorney Benjamin Ginsberg; and Al Schmidt, former City Commissioner of Philadelphia.
The panel will also focus on the millions of dollars Trump’s team has brought to fundraising in the run-up to Jan. 6, according to a committee aide who insisted on anonymity to discuss the details.
The committee said most of those interviewed in the inquiry are coming forward voluntarily, although some have wanted subpoenas to appear in public. Filmmaker Nick Quested, who provided documentary footage of the attack, said during last week’s hearing that he had received a subpoena.
Committee members said they would present clear evidence that “several” GOP lawmakers, including Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., had asked Trump for forgiveness, which would shield him from prosecution. Perry on Friday denied ever having done so, calling the claim an “absolute, blatant, soulless lie.”
“We’re not going to make accusations or say things without evidence or supporting evidence,” said Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill.
Lawmakers have indicated that their most important audience member during the hearings could be Attorney General Merrick Garland, who must decide whether his department can and should prosecute Trump. They left no doubt as to their own view of whether the evidence is sufficient to prosecute.
“Once the evidence has been accumulated by the Justice Department, it must decide whether it can prove to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt the guilt of the president or anyone else,” Schiff said. “But they should be investigated if there is credible evidence, which I think there is.”
Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., said he didn’t intend to “bully” Garland, but noted that the committee had already stated in criminal law pleadings that they believe Trump had raped them.
“I think he knows, his staff knows, American lawyers know, what’s at stake here,” Raskin said. “They know the importance of it, but I think they rightly pay close attention to historical precedents, as well as the facts of this case.”
Garland did not say whether he would be willing to sue, which would be unprecedented and could be complicated in a political election season in which Trump has openly flirted with the idea of running for president again. .
No president or ex-president has ever been charged.
Richard Nixon resigned from office in 1974 as he faced impeachment and likely indictment by a grand jury for bribery, conspiracy and obstruction of justice. President Gerald Ford later pardoned his predecessor before any Watergate-related criminal charges could be filed.
Legal experts say a Justice Department lawsuit against Trump over the riot could set a difficult precedent in which one party’s administration could go after another’s former president more regularly. .
“We will follow the facts wherever they lead,” Garland said in her speech at Harvard University’s commencement ceremony last month.
A California federal judge said in a March ruling in a civil case that Trump ‘more likely than not’ committed federal crimes by seeking to interfere with Congress’ counting of Electoral College ballots on January 6, 2021. The judge cited two statutes: obstruction of due process and conspiracy to defraud the United States. Trump has denied any wrongdoing.
Schiff appeared on “This Week” on ABC, Raskin spoke on “State of the Union” on CNN, and Kinzinger was on “Face the Nation” on CBS.
AP Congressional correspondent Lisa Mascaro in Washington and Associated Press writer Jill Colvin in New York contributed to this report.
For full coverage of the January 6 hearings, visit https://www.apnews.com/capitol-siege