A key Republican member of the January 6 committee is laying out the message that the panel’s lawmakers are pushing as they press forward with public hearings: Donald Trump should face criminal charges for his role in the attack on Congress.
Rep Adam Kinzinger made the case that there was enough evidence to charge the former president with the highest of charges pursued by the Justice Department in relation to the January 6 attack thus far, that of criminal seditious conspiracy, during an interview Sunday on ABC’s This Week.
“I certainly think the president is guilty of knowing what he did — seditious conspiracy, being involved in these kinds of different segments of pressuring DOJ, Vice President [Pence], et cetera,” said Mr Kinzinger.’
“I think what we’re presenting to the American people definitely rises to the level of criminal involvement by the former president,” he added.
He did note, as others have including Rep Bennie Thompson, the Democratic chair of the panel, that the role of the House select committee is not to formally charge the ex-president or any individuals; that role is held by the Justice Department, which will review the case made by the committee as well as its own investigation into the attack as the agency determines whether any persons of note within the Trump administration or campaign will be held accountable for the deadly attack on Congress that led to the deaths of multiple members of Capitol Police and the injuries of more than 100 other law enforcement officers.
More than a year after the attack, no members of Donald Trump’s White House or campaign teams have faced criminal charges for inciting an effort to halt the peaceful transfer of power from the 45th president to Joe Biden, who now holds the office.
The January 6 committee has spent three public hearings so far outlining how Donald Trump pursued a path of conspiracies and baseless rumours of election fraud against the advice of his own advisers and top experts including Attorney General Bill Barr, and sought to undermine trust and spread false claims about election fraud for months after the 2020 election. And on Thursday, the panel outlined how Mr Trump’s legal team pressured then-Vice President Mike Pence to interfere in the certification of the election even though they privately expressed doubts about the legal validity of their actions.
With the panel set to outline more revelations about Donald Trump’s actions during the attack itself in the three remaining hearings set to be held in the weeks ahead, a new ABC News/Ipsos poll finds that 58 per cent of Americans now believe Mr Trump bears a great deal of responsibility for the attack and should face criminal charges as a result. That number has ticked up just four percentage points since January of 2021, but could further increase as public hearings of the committee continue.
A similar number, 60 per cent, said they believed the House select committee was conducting a fair investigation.
The disagreement about Mr Trump’s role and responsibility mainly comes from Republicans, as six in ten independent voters said in the poll that Mr Trump should face criminal charges. Just about one in five Republicans said that Mr Trump was largely responsible for the attack.
The poll did find also, however, that 51 per cent of voters said the hearings would not affect their voting plans for the upcoming midterm elections.
ABC/Ipsos’s poll surveyed 545 adults living in the US between Friday and Saturday. The margin of error in the survey was 4.5 percentage points.
The Justice Department has remained tight-lipped on its plans regarding its own investigation into January 6 going forward; most recently, in January, Attorney General Merrick Garland promised to follow the investigation wherever the facts lead but as of yet there’s little public indication other than that pointing to the possibility of criminal charges for members of the former administration. Hundreds of participants in the riot itself have been charged by the agency since January of 2021, and more continue to be indicted as they are identified by investigators.
“The actions we have taken thus far will not be our last. The Justice Department remains committed to holding all January 6th perpetrators – at any level – accountable under law, whether they were present that day, or were otherwise criminally responsible for the assault. on our democracy,” Mr Garland vowed earlier this year. “We will follow the facts, wherever they lead”.
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