Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) thinks that the Justice Department has to be notified so that former President Donald Trump can face criminal charges. Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), his colleague, was a little less clear about the criminal referrals anticipated from the House Select Committee looking into the attack on Congress on January 6 and the attempt to rig the 2020 election.
Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), the committee’s chairman, said on Tuesday that criminal referrals were likely to come out of the committee.
In an interview with NPR, Schiff emphasized that the people who will most likely be referred are those who have consistently failed to comply, many of whom have already been sent to the whole Congress for a contempt vote. After then, the Justice Department received them.
When they submit their final report to the Justice Department, according to Schiff, they will consider whether to refer persons for particular offenses. Lofgren clarified that they want to examine the existing criminal statutes to make sure that, if they are reported to the DOJ, they have the offense and the supporting documentation.
“So, we’re working through this,” Lofgren explained. “We’re not quite done, but we will be done within days for sure, taking a look at all of the evidence, comparing the evidence to the criminal code, and then discussing that amongst us. There’s no acrimony involved, we just want to be careful lawyers about this.”
When explicitly questioned about whether they intended to send Donald Trump for indictment, Lofgren ducked the question by saying they were investigating everything. Schiff, though, was the one who made it obvious that he believes Trump should be reported for charges. Judge David Carter, who rendered a decision in John Eastman’s emails case, served as his model.
“I can’t go in the particulars of what we may refer, but just looking for example at what Judge Carter in California had to say. He was looking at a small sample of the overall body of evidence and he concluded,” said Schiff. “In his review —and again his review was to determine whether John Eastman, one of the lawyers working with President Trump, had to turn over material or whether it is covered by the attorney-client privilege. And in this case, in particular with the crime-fraud exception applied, and he concluded that President Trump and others were likely engaged in a criminal conspiracy to obstruct Congress in this work. So, there you have a federal jurist who is making that determination.”
Former U.S. Attorney Schiff claimed that when he views the case from the standpoint of a prosecutor, he sees a crime that can be prosecuted on January 6 and a criminal conspiracy before that date.
“And, you know, I think that illustration I give, the example I gave, is just one instance of one particular fence that I think the facts support a potential charge against the former president. And, you know, the Justice Department, in my view needs to hold everyone equally responsible before the law that includes former presidents when they engage in criminality,” said Schiff.