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Jan. 6 committee refers Trump to DOJ for criminal charges

(WASHINGTON) — The House select committee examining the Jan. 6 attack at the U.S. Capitol has held its final public meeting.

The panel voted to approve criminal referrals for former President Donald Trump regarding his failed attempt to overturn the 2020 election.

Here’s how the story developed:

Dec 19, 6:36 PM EST
Trump responds to the Jan. 6 committee’s criminal referrals

Trump, in response to the criminal referrals, continued his criticism that the Jan. 6 committee is partisan and politically-motived.

“These folks don’t get it that when they come after me, the people who love freedom rally around me,” Trump wrote in a Truth Social statement on Monday. “It strengthens me. What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.”

Trump also repeated his familiar claim that he had “pushed for 20,000 troops to prevent violence on Jan 6” — an assertion the committee contradicted in the executive summary of its final report.

“The select committee found no evidence of this,” the panel said in the summary. “In fact, President Trump’s own acting secretary of defense Christopher Miller directly refuted this when he testified under oath.”

Trump’s campaign also released a statement, calling the committee’s action “a mockery of our democracy.”

“The January 6th Unselect Committee held show trials by Never Trump partisans who are a stain on this country’s history,” the campaign’s statement read.

Dec 19, 2:51 PM EST
Committee releases 160-page executive summary of final report

The House Jan. 6 committee, after its final public meeting on Monday, released a sweeping executive summary to explain its findings. In it, members point to Trump as the main instigator behind the Capitol attack.

“That evidence has led to an overriding and straight-forward conclusion: the central cause of January 6th was one man, former President Donald Trump, who many others followed. None of the events of January 6th would have happened without him,” the summary said.

Highlights from the executive summary can be read here.

The committee is expected to release a broader, more comprehensive final report later this week.

Dec 19, 2:42 PM EST
Who is John Eastman?

Attorney John Eastman was named with Trump as among those the committee is recommending for criminal charges to the Justice Department. Members described how Trump turned to Eastman as other allies asked for him to accept the election loss.

Eastman, the committee said, drafted a six-step plan for then-Vice President Mike Pence to reject legitimate electors during the certification of the election on Jan. 6, even though Eastman admitted in advance that Pence could not lawfully do so.

Former Trump White House attorney Eric Herschmann, in a taped deposition with committee members, said he told Eastman his plan was “completely crazy,” would “cause riots in the streets” and that he was “out of [his] effin’ mind.”

But even after the Capitol attack, Eastman pursued the plot, the committee said. Herschmann said he told Eastman: “‘Now I’m going to give you the best free legal advice you’re getting in your life: Get a great effing criminal defense lawyer. You’re going to need it."”

Soon after, Eastman emailed Rudy Giuliani to say, “I’ve decided that I should be on the pardon list, if that is still in the works,” according to evidence obtained by the committee.

Dec 19, 2:39 PM EST
Panel refers four Republican lawmakers to the House Committee on Ethics

The Jan. 6 committee is also making referrals for four Republican lawmakers to the House Committee on Ethics for their failure to comply with subpoenas.

The members being referred, according to the executive summary of the committee’s report, are House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy and GOP Reps. Jim Jordan, Scott Perry and Andy Biggs.

“We asked multiple members of Congress to speak with us about issues critical to our understanding of this attack on the 2020 election, and our system of constitutional democracy. None agreed to provide that essential information,” Rep. Jamie Raskin said. “As a result, we took the significant step of issuing them subpoenas based on the volume of information particular members possessed about one or more parts of President Trump’s plans to overturn the election. None of the subpoenaed members complied.”

Dec 19, 2:29 PM EST
Committee votes to approve referrals, final report

After Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., outlined the criminal referrals it was making for Trump, John Eastman and others, the committee voted unanimously to transmit their referrals to the Justice Department.

“We understand the gravity of each and every referral we are making today, just as we understand the magnitude of the crime against democracy that we describe in our report — but we have gone where the facts in the law lead us, and inescapably, they lead us here,” Raskin said.

It is now up to the Justice Department to pursue the charges or even acknowledge them, but it’s not obligated to do.

“We have every confidence that the work of this committee will help provide a roadmap to justice and that the agencies and institutions responsible for ensuring justice under law will use the information we provided to aid in their work,” Thompson said at the start of the meeting.

Dec 19, 2:19 PM EST
Committee approves four criminal referrals for Trump

Rep. Jamie Raskin announced four criminal referrals for Trump to the Department of Justice. Those referrals are: Obstruction of an Official Proceeding; Conspiracy to Defraud the United States; Conspiracy to Make a False Statement and “Incite,” “Assist” or “Aid and Comfort” an Insurrection.

Dec 19, 2:13 PM EST
Raskin details referrals against Trump, Eastman

In a dramatic climax, Rep. Jamie Raskin announced that the evidence obtained by the committee “warrants a criminal referral, of former president Donald J. Trump, John Eastman and others.”

“We propose to the committee advancing referrals where the gravity of the specific offense, the severely of its actual harm and the centrality of the offender to the overall design of the unlawful scheme to the overall election compel to us speak,” Raskin said. “Ours is not a skim of justice where foot soldiers go to jail and the masterminds and ringleaders get a free pass.”

Raskin said “the starting point” of their analysis is how a federal judge already found Trump’s and John Eastman’s pressure on then-Vice President Mike Pence to obstruct the congressional count of electoral votes “more likely than not” violated two federal criminal statutes: obstruction of an official proceeding and conspiracy to defraud the United States.

The announcement of the referrals is ongoing.

Dec 19, 2:07 PM EST
Trump’s pressure on Pence threatened VP’s life, Aguilar says

Rep. Pete Aguilar, in his opening remarks, focused on how Trump attempted to pressure then-Vice President Mike Pence to unilaterally overturn his 2020 election loss.

Aguilar said Trump “embraced an illegal scheme” proposed by attorney John Eastman that claimed the vice president has the power to reject electoral votes during the joint session of Congress to certify the votes.

The scheme, Aguilar said, culminated in a “dangerous threat to Mr. Pence’s life on Jan. 6.”

“Rioters at the Capitol were heard chanting, ‘Hang Mike Pence’ through the afternoon,” Aguilar said. “As a result of this unrest, Vice President Pence was forced to flee to a secure location.”

Dec 19, 1:49 PM EST
Lofgren says lawyers, entities ‘linked’ to Trump contacted witnesses

Committee member Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., said the panel found evidence that Trump raised hundreds of millions of dollars on false elections claims, some of which was used to hire lawyers to “provide and offer employment to witnesses.”

Lofgren said that a female witness was offered a job from entities “linked” to Trump, and the offer was withdrawn once reports of her testimony circulated.

“We are concerned these efforts may have been a strategy to prevent the committee from finding the truth,” she said.

Lofgren also played a new clip of a recent interview with former Trump adviser Hope Hicks, who said she expressed concern Trump was damaging his legacy with false fraud claims.

Hicks recalled Trump saying, “‘Nobody will care about my legacy if I lose, so that won’t matter. The only thing that matters is winning."”

“Donald Trump knowingly and corruptly repeated election fraud lies, which incited his supporters to violence on January 6,” Lofgren said. “He continues to repeat his meritless claim that the election was stolen even today.”

Dec 19, 1:46 PM EST
Committee plays montage of notable moments from its public hearings

For Americans who might have missed some of the hearings, the committee played a montage of highlights from its hearings and closed-door videotaped depositions to hammer home their findings that Trump was told he lost the election but pushed forward with an attempt to remain in power anyway.

That included deposition from former Attorney General Bill Barr, who told the committee that he thought Trump’s claims of fraud were “bull****.” Also played again Thursday was deposition from former White House counsel Pat Cipollone, who told the committee he described Trump’s plan to install a loyalist to be acting attorney general as a “murder-suicide pact.”

Moments from Cassidy Hutchinson’s bombshell testimony were also played, including her comments about Trump’s desire to go to the Capitol on Jan. 6.

Dec 19, 1:26 PM EST
Cheney says Trump ‘unfit for any office’

Co-chair Rep. Liz Cheney focused her opening remarks on how Donald Trump was the first president in American history to refuse a peaceful transfer of power and argued he should never be allowed to hold office again.

“January 6, 2021, was the first time one American president refused his constitutional duty to transfer power peacefully to the next,” she said. “In our work over the last 18 months, the select committee has recognized our obligation to do everything we can to ensure this never happens again.”

Cheney said among the most “shameful” of the committee’s findings was that Trump sat in the dining room off the Oval Office watching the Capitol attack on television and resisted for hours issuing a public statement instructing his supporters to disperse, despite urgent pleas from White House staff and lawmakers.

“During this time, law enforcement agents were attacked and seriously injured. The Capitol was invaded. The electoral count was halted, and the lives of those in the Capitol were put at risk,” Cheney said. “In addition to being unlawful, as described in our report, this was an utter moral failure and a clear dereliction of duty.”

“No man who would behave that way at that moment in time can ever serve in any position of authority in our nation again,” she added. “He is unfit for any office.”

Dec 19, 1:21 PM EST
Committee’s work ‘to provide a roadmap to justice’: Thompson

Chairman Bennie Thompson, in his opening statement, said he believes committee’s work over the past 18 months can help hold those responsible for the Capitol attack accountable.

“We have every confidence that the work of this committee will help provide a roadmap to justice and that the agencies and institutions responsible for ensuring justice under law will use the information we provided to aid in their work,” Thompson said.

“This committee is nearing the end of its work, but as a country we remain in strange and uncharted waters,” Thompson said. “We’ve never had a president of the United States stir up a violent attempt to block the transfer of power. I believe, nearly two years later, this is still a time of reflection and reckoning.”

“If we are to survive as a nation of laws and democracy, this can never happen again,” he warned.

Dec 19, 1:16 PM EST
Trump ‘lost the 2020 election and knew it,’ chairman says

After gaveling in the committee’s meeting, Chairman Bennie Thompson said Donald Trump broke the “faith in our system” when he failed to accept the results of the 2020 election.

“He lost the 2020 election and knew it, but he chose to try to stay in office through a multi-part scheme, overturn the results and blocked the transfer of power,” Thompson said.

“In the end, he summoned the mob to Washington knowing they were armed and angry, pointed them to the Capitol and told them to fight like hell,” Thompson added. “There’s no doubt about this.”

Dec 19, 1:07 PM EST
Final committee meeting begins

The final business meeting of the Jan. 6 committee is underway, bringing members’ 18-month-long investigation to a dramatic and televised close.

After 10 public hearings and hundreds of hours of closed-door depositions on what led to the Capitol attack, the committee is meeting publicly one last time to present referrals and vote to approve its final report.

Members are expected to release an executive summary of their report following the meeting including details on expected criminal referrals as well as more information about witnesses who have appeared before the committee, according to a committee aide. Sources tell ABC News members are expected to recommend criminal charges against Trump.

Monday’s executive summary comes ahead of a fuller release of the committee’s final report on Wednesday. The select committee is set to expire on Dec. 31, 2022, just days before Republicans take back control of the House.

Dec 19, 1:02 PM EST
Panel to transmit criminal referrals ‘shortly’ after business meeting: Thompson

Going into the committee room on Monday, Chairman Bennie Thompson told reporters the committee plans to transmit the criminal referrals to the Department of Justice shortly after they “take care of business today.”

Thompson also said he has no plans to meet with Special Counsel Jack Smith, who is overseeing the Justice Department’s major Jan. 6 cases as well as the department’s investigation into classified documents taken from the White House by Trump.

Dec 19, 12:00 PM EST
What it means for the committee to make criminal referrals

The Justice Department is not obligated to act on referrals, but public hearings outlining Trump’s “seven-point plan” to overturn the 2020 presidential election have amped up pressure on Garland to bring criminal charges against Trump — which would be the first in history against a former president.

The Justice Department for months has been conducting its own separate investigation into Jan. 6, which has included multiple former senior Trump White House staffers along with his close allies appearing before grand juries.

“The committee’s public hearings have raised the stakes enormously for the country, in the sense that the criminal activity shown to have gone on is so brazen, that if the Justice Department does not enforce the law in this case, it really does further erode the rule of law and democracy,” Ryan Goodman, a New York University School of Law professor, told ABC News.

Dec 19, 11:12 AM EST
What’s happened since the last Jan. 6 committee hearing

The committee last met in public on Oct. 13 when members voted unanimously to subpoena Donald Trump.

Since then, Trump has sued to block the subpoena from being enforced. Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said the panel was looking at paths forward after Trump’s lawsuit but it has yet to take any action in court.

The committee has also interviewed more witnesses since its last hearing, including former White House deputy chief of staff for operations and top Secret Service official Tony Ornato — the figure at the center of bombshell testimony involving an alleged physical confrontation between Trump and his security detail in the president’s vehicle on Jan. 6.

Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and former Trump White House adviser Kellyanne Conway also have met with the committee since its last public meeting.

Dec 19, 10:41 AM EST
Slight majority of Americans say Trump should be charged: Polling

Public attitudes on Donald Trump’s culpability surrounding the Jan. 6 Capitol attack have been essentially steady over the past year, with a slight majority of Americans saying he should be charged with a crime, according to ABC News/Washington Post and ABC News/Ipsos polling.

A survey in April found 52% responding that Trump should be charged with a crime for his role in the Capitol attack, while 42% said he should not. Polling in September showed those favoring a charge remained at 52%, while those opposed to charges fell slightly to 39%.

In January 2021, about a week after the Capitol attack, 54% of respondents said Trump should be charged with inciting a riot.

Dec 19, 10:08 AM EST
Criminal referrals the committee might make

Over a series of nine hearings this summer and fall, the committee outlined an alleged “sophisticated seven-point plan” it says Trump and his allies engaged in with the goal of stopping the peaceful transfer of power, including “corruptly” planning to replace federal and state officials with those who would support his fake election claims and pressuring Pence to violate his oath to uphold the Constitution.

Acting on a plan with the intent to stop the counting of electoral votes would likely violate 18 U.S.C. § 1512(c), obstruction of an official proceeding, which makes it a felony to attempt to “corruptly obstruct, influence, or impede any official proceeding,” such as the certification of a presidential election, and comes with up to 20 years in prison.

Another statute raised by Rep. Liz Cheney over several hearings, 18 U.S.C. § 371, conspiracy to defraud the United States, criminalizes the agreement between two or more persons to “impair, obstruct or defeat the lawful government functions” and is punishable by up to five years in prison.

Dec 19, 9:50 AM EST
How Trump has responded to the Jan. 6 committee

The House Jan. 6 select committee in a matter of hours will consider its final report, which is expected to reveal how far it will go in accusing Trump of deep involvement in what it says was a plot to overturn the 2020 election.

Even before it began a series of high-profile public hearings in June, Trump repeatedly railed against the panel, dubbing it the “unselect” committee and casting it as a partisan “witch hunt,” attacking witnesses and denying wrongdoing, all while making false claims of widespread election fraud two years ago.

The committee, meanwhile, has interviewed scores of witnesses and heard their dramatic testimony in front of TV cameras, delivering a slate of bombshells about the inner workings of the Trump White House leading up to Jan. 6 and on the day itself.

Dec 19, 9:13 AM EST
Expect ‘five or six’ categories of referrals: Chairman

The most important business at hand when the select committee meets this afternoon is the committee’s highly anticipated decision on criminal referrals.

Sources familiar told ABC News the committee is preparing to urge the Department of Justice to prosecute Donald Trump for obstruction of an official proceeding and conspiracy to defraud the United States. Another criminal charge under discussion is insurrection, the sources said.

Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., tasked a subcommittee to make recommendations on criminal referrals and to also explore enforcement options for the five Republican lawmakers who ignored subpoenas to testify: Reps. Kevin McCarthy, Andy Biggs, Jim Jordan, Scott Perry and Mo Brooks.

Thompson has said to expect “five or six” categories of referrals, which means there could be referrals to several different entities such as the Justice Department or the House Committee on Ethics.

The extent of the criminal referrals, and who will be targeted, will be made clear in a matter of hours when the committee releases a separate, shorter report on the matter. Any referrals would be a largely symbolic move, though, as it’s ultimately up to federal prosecutors whether to pursue charges.

-ABC News’ Katherine Faulders

Dec 19, 8:01 AM EST
Liz Cheney’s mission: Keep Donald Trump out of the White House

Rep. Liz Cheney will make a last high-profile stand against Donald Trump when the Jan. 6 committee holds its final public meeting in a matter of hours — as sources say it’s preparing to recommend the first-ever criminal charges against a former president.

It’s cost the Wyoming Republican her political career to take on Trump, but she’s said she has no regrets — making the case she has a higher mission: to keep him from ever regaining the White House.

After voting to impeach Trump, and then accepting an invitation to serve on the select committee, she lost her No. 3 House GOP leadership position and ultimately, her congressional seat.

But in doing so, she also won unlikely supporters as she exposed what she called Trump’s seven-point plan to steal the election and admonished her Republican colleagues who, she said, lacked the courage to do the same.

Click here for some of Cheney’s most memorable moments.

Dec 19, 7:54 AM EST
Committee to release summary of final report

The Jan. 6 committee is expected to release an executive summary of its findings after Monday’s meeting concludes.

“Following the business meeting, the Select Committee is expected to release certain materials, including an executive summary of the report, details on referrals, and additional information about witnesses who have appeared before the committee,” a select committee aide said in a statement on Sunday.

Select committee members have not yet provided DOJ investigators with copies of the committee’s transcripts and witness interviews — with members opting to do so at the end of their investigation.

-ABC News’ Katherine Faulders

Dec 19, 7:43 AM EST
Committee expected to recommend criminal charges

Monday is the last public meeting of the Jan. 6 committee, with ABC News learning members are expected to recommend criminal charges be pursued against former President Donald Trump in connection with the Capitol attack nearly two years ago.

Sources familiar with the committee’s deliberations say the recommended charges will include conspiracy to defraud the United States and obstruction of an official proceeding. The committee also is considering recommending Trump be charged with insurrection.

Members have been working against the clock to try to finish their work before Republicans take control of the House in the new year.

Any decision about whether to bring any charges against the former president would be left to the Department of Justice. DOJ has been conducting its own parallel investigation into the events of Jan. 6 and isn’t obligated to act on congressional referrals.

-ABC News’ Katherine Faulders

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