Jan. 6 panelists: Enough evidence uncovered to indict Donald Trump
WASHINGTON — Members of the House committee investigating the Capitol riot said Sunday they have uncovered enough evidence for the Justice Department to consider an unprecedented criminal indictment against former President Donald Trump for seeking to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
The committee announced that Trump’s campaign manager, Bill Stepien, is among the witnesses scheduled to testify at a hearing Monday that focuses on Trump’s effort to spread his lies about a stolen election. Stepien was subpoenaed for his public testimony.
As the hearings unfold, Rep. Adam Schiff said he would like the department to “investigate any credible allegation of criminal activity on the part of Donald Trump.” Schiff, D-Calif., who also leads the House Intelligence Committee, said that “there are certain actions, parts of these different lines of effort to overturn the election that I don’t see evidence the Justice Department is investigating.”
The committee held its first public hearing last week, with members laying out their case against Trump to show how the defeated president relentlessly pushed his false claims of a rigged election despite multiple advisers telling him otherwise and how he intensified an extraordinary scheme to overturn Joe Biden’s victory.
Additional evidence is set to be released in hearings this week that will demonstrate how Trump and some of his advisers engaged in a “massive effort” to spread misinformation, pressured the Justice Department to embrace his false claims, and urged then-Vice President Mike Pence to reject state electors and block the vote certification on Jan. 6, 2021.
Stepien, a longtime Trump ally, is now a top campaign adviser to the Trump-endorsed House candidate in Wyoming’s Republican primary, Harriet Hageman, who is challenging Rep. Liz Cheney, the committee’s vice chair and a vociferous critic of the former president. A Trump spokesman, Taylor Budowich, suggested that the committee’s decision to call Stepien was politically motivated.
Monday’s witness list also includes BJay Pak, the top federal prosecutor in Atlanta who left his position on Jan 4, 2021, a day after an audio recording was made public in which Trump called him a “never-Trumper,” and Chris Stirewalt, the former political editor for Fox News.
The committee has said most of those interviewed in the investigation are coming forward voluntarily, although some have wanted subpoenas to appear in public. Filmmaker Nick Quested, who provided documentary footage of the attack, said during last week’s hearing he received a subpoena to appear.
Committee members said they would present clear evidence that “multiple” GOP lawmakers, including Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., had sought a pardon from Trump, which would protect him from prosecution. Perry on Friday denied he ever did so, calling the assertion an “absolute, shameless, and soulless lie.”
“We’re not going to make accusations or say things without proof or evidence backing it,” said Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill.
Lawmakers indicated that perhaps their most important audience member over the course of the hearings may be Attorney General Merrick Garland, who must decide whether his department can and should prosecute Trump. They left no doubt as to their own view whether the evidence is sufficient to proceed.
“Once the evidence is accumulated by the Justice Department, it needs to make a decision about whether it can prove to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt the president’s guilt or anyone else’s,” Schiff said. “But they need to be investigated if there’s credible evidence, which I think there is.”
Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., said he doesn’t intend to “browbeat” Garland but noted the committee has already laid out in legal pleadings criminal statutes they believe Trump violated.