WASHINGTON – The special congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection is weighing whether to make a criminal referral against Donald Trump, members said Sunday – and Trump’s newly hatched 2024 presidential candidacy will not shield him from potential prosecution.
“I think the evidence is there to make a referral and we just have to decide whether that’s the course we are going to take,” said Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., a committee member speaking Sunday on ABC’s This Week.
Rep, Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., one of two Republicans on the committee, has said a referral is likely, and told CNN that Trump’s new status as a 2024 presidential candidate is meaningless when it comes to the law.
If Trump thinks he can “obstruct justice” simply by announcing a campaign, he is mistaken, Kinzinger told CNN’s “State of the Union:” “That would be a bad precedent, of course, because anybody that’s under investigation could announce they’re running for president.”
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A referral to the Justice Department by the Jan. 6 committee would have no legal force; DOJ is already investigating efforts to overturn Trump’s loss to Biden in the 2020 election that led to the insurrection of Jan. 6, 2021.
The Justice Department is also looking at Trump’s removal of classified documents when he left the White House on Jan. 20, 2021.
On Friday, Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed a special counsel to coordinate the remainder of these investigations. Garland said he wanted to avoid any conflict of interest claims, given claims by Trump and Biden that they plan to run for president again in 2024.
Prosecutors in Atlanta, meanwhile, are investigating Trump for pressuring Georgia officials to reverse his loss to Biden in that state.
Trump has claimed that all of these investigations are politically motivated, and told allies in Florida over the weekend that “I’ve done nothing wrong.”
The former president has also refused to comply with a subpoena from the Jan. 6 committee, meaning it must now decide whether to seek to hold him in legal contempt.
“We’re discussing that,” Schiff said on ABC, but he added that “we have very limited options.”
There is also time pressure: The special Jan. 6 committee is expected to be shut down when Republicans take control of the U.S. House early next year.