US congressional committee recommends court to prosecute Trump for four criminal offenses

That is the unanimous opinion of the parliamentary committee that investigated January 6, 2021 — when thousands of Trump supporters broke into the US parliament in an attempt to overturn the election results. It is the first time in history that a parliamentary committee has called for an American president to be prosecuted.

On Monday, the nine members of the parliamentary committee, consisting of seven Democrats and two Trump-critical Republicans, voted for a criminal referral. They advise the judiciary to prosecute the former president for four criminal offenses: disrupting the democratic process, inciting or supporting an insurrection, conspiracy against the US and conspiracy to spread untruths.

“If we are to survive as a land of law and democracy,” said chairman Bennie Thompson, “this must never happen again.”

Not only the president should be prosecuted, says the commission, but also lawyer John Eastman, who is seen as the inventor of the coup attempt. He saw opportunities to overturn the election results, even though judges had ruled allegations of election fraud unfounded. The Committee does not rule out the possibility that even more key figures may have committed criminal offences.

Monday's presentation of the parliamentary committee of inquiry.  From their findings the picture emerges of a man who placed his desire to win above the principle of democracy.  Picture Photo News

Monday’s presentation of the parliamentary committee of inquiry. From their findings the picture emerges of a man who placed his desire to win above the principle of democracy.Picture Photo News

Ball is with the judiciary

The decision to prosecute Trump and others now rests with the Justice Department. The report of the committee has been eagerly awaited for months, which will probably be presented in its entirety on Wednesday. The commission itself has no power to prosecute anyone.

Justice has been working on an investigation into the former president for some time. In November, Special Counsel Jack Smith was appointed by Attorney General Merrick Garland to deal with the Trump case. Smith investigates his role in the storming of the Capitol and, separately, the secret documents found in his home after Trump’s presidency. From now on, Smith can also draw on the findings of the committee. The members heard hundreds of witnesses and went through thousands of documents.

Some of those involved refused to testify. The committee also recommended on Monday that the House Ethics Committee should sanction four members of Congress. The chances of that happening are slim, as Republicans will be in charge of the House of Representatives next year.

Price tag for (non-)prosecution

The likelihood that Trump will be prosecuted increased significantly on Monday. Yet it is not an easy route for justice to follow. In October, Trump re-nominated himself as a candidate for the 2024 presidential election. Partly for this reason, he will claim that any case against him is politically motivated.

“There is a price tag for both prosecuting Trump and not prosecuting Trump,” said Andrea Hatcher, a political scientist at The University of the South in Tennessee. The political division in the country could increase if persecuted. “But if they don’t prosecute him, justice gives the impression that the president is above the law.”

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Picture Photo News

The Ministry is in a dilemma. In addition, doing nothing would reflect on the cases surrounding the hundreds of stormers who have already been prosecuted. Why she and not him? The committee also calls it undesirable on Monday that ‘foot soldiers’ are prosecuted, but not the ‘brains’ behind the uprising. Trump himself dismisses that day as a demonstration that got out of hand. The violence came from the extreme left, he claims.

During eight hearings, the commission reconstructed in detail the events of January 6, 2021, the run-up to it and the role of Donald Trump. This created an image of a man who placed his desire to win above the principle of democracy.

Threat to democracy

Thanks in part to the commission’s investigation, the storming of the Capitol will enter the textbooks as the most serious threat to American democracy in modern history. Politicians had locked themselves in rooms and closets for fear of the violent mob that had invaded the Capitol. Five people died that day. Hundreds of police officers were injured.

The committee was in a hurry with the advice. The new Congress will take office early next year, with a Republican majority in the House of Representatives. Republicans have already announced that they will close the committee as soon as possible.

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