WASHINGTON — Members of the bipartisan House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol said Sunday they've delivered proof of then-President Donald Trump’s culpability in the riots and now the Department of Justice must sharpen its investigation of his role.
Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Elaine Luria (D-Va.) and Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) — each making the rounds on the Sunday morning political talk shows — said they believe the committee’s yearlong investigation made the case that Trump called on his supporters to march to the Capitol, was aware of weapons in the crowd and the potential for violence, but did nothing to quell the violence that erupted the day lawmakers were scheduled to certify current President Joe Biden's 2020 election victory.
“It’s certainly not a step to be taken lightly at all,” Schiff said on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” of whether Attorney General Merrick Garland potentially charging Trump with a federal crime.
“At the same time," Schiff said, "immunizing a former president who has engaged in wrongdoing … I think is more dangerous than anything else, and the decision not to move forward to the investigation or not to move forward to the prosecution, because of someone’s political status or political influence or because they have a following — to me, that is a far more dangerous thing to our Constitution than following the evidence wherever it leads, including when it leads to a former president.”
Garland, when asked last week if the Justice Department was proceeding with a criminal investigation into the president, or believed a former president could be prosecuted, reiterated his position that the agency does not “do our investigations in the public” while repeatedly noting “no person is above the law.”
"There is a lot of speculation about what the Justice Department is doing, what it's not doing, what our theories are and what our theories aren't, and there will continue to be that speculation," Garland said at a news conference Wednesday. "That's because a central tenant of the way in which the Justice Department investigates, and a central tenant of the rule of law is that we do not do our investigations in the public."
Garland, noting that the Justice Department has filed charges against numerous individuals who were involved in the Jan. 6 attack, said: "We have to hold accountable every person who is criminally responsible for trying to overturn a legitimate election, and we must do it in a way filled with integrity and professionalism.”
Trump has denied any wrongdoing and on his personal social media platform has cast the House committee’s work as that of a “kangaroo court.”
Last Thursday the committee held its eighth public hearing and said they plan to return in September with follow-ups, noting that evidence continues to be provided to the panel of investigators.
Luria, appearing on NBC’s “Meet the Press” said, “I sure as hell hope they have a criminal investigation at this point into Donald Trump.”
“I have no direct knowledge of the status of their investigations, but what I’d say is I can tell the Department of Justice is watching our hearings closely,” Luria said. “There have been cases of criminal defendants who have been charged and found guilty for events on January 6th, and they have actually quoted testimony from the January 6th witnesses and hearings. So, Merrick Garland has already told us he’s listening, and if he’s watching today, I’d tell him he doesn’t need to wait on us because I think he has plenty to keep moving forward.”
Cheney, the vice chair of the committee, told CNN’s “State of the Union” that the panel has not decided “whether we're going to make criminal referrals. But that's absolutely something we're looking at.”
“There's no question that we have seen very serious misconduct and certainly supreme dereliction of duty,” Cheney said.
Cheney also raised the prospect that the committee will subpoena Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, the wife of conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, and a conservative activist who sent multiple text messages to Trump’s former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, urging him to pursue different avenues to overturn the election results.
“The committee is engaged with her counsel,” Cheney said. “We certainly hope that she will agree to come in voluntarily, but the committee is fully prepared to contemplate a subpoena if she does not. I hope it doesn’t get to that.”