Criminal Charges For Trump Demanded After New Jan. 6 Evidence

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The push for criminal charges against former President Donald Trump in connection to his role in the Capitol violence and related pushes to overturn the 2020 presidential election outcome is only getting louder.

“Each hearing makes more clear that this insurrection was a violent, coordinated attempt by Donald Trump to silence the will of the people,” Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) commented on Twitter in response to some of the most recent revelations from the House panel investigating the Capitol riot. “[The Justice Department] must bring charges against everyone involved, including the former president.” Pressley was specifically responding to the revelation that Trump apparently wanted a planned march to the Capitol on January 6 to come across like a push decided on in the moment. For Trump to have planned on and hoped for such a thing suggests he was ready to personally rile up a potentially aggressive crowd in close physical proximity to top leaders. The Capitol riot doesn’t seem to exactly contradict Trump’s plans — and it’s of course startling a president pursued that route.

Trump eventually pushed for a march to the Capitol during his January 6 speech, and available evidence indicates he legitimately sought to join the crowd at the Capitol. “For more than a year, Mr. Trump and his defenders have described the violence at the Capitol as a freewheeling peaceful protest gone awry,” The New York Times summarized this week. “But the hearing on Tuesday laid out how the former president took a guiding role not only in bringing the mob fueled by his election lies to Washington that day, but also in the plan to direct it up to Capitol Hill, disregarding the advice of his closest aides.” The committee obtained a drafted Twitter post from Trump that explicitly laid out a plan for a march to the Capitol but was never sent. The drafted tweet helps depict the then-president’s corrupt intent to push a march on the Capitol — which testimony from Cassidy Hutchinson and remarks Trump himself made on January 6 suggest he was fine with being violent.

“The military, the Secret Service. And we want to thank you, and the police law enforcement,” Trump said in his speech that day. “You’re doing a great job. But I’d love it if they could be allowed to come up here with us. Is that possible? Can you just let ’em come up, please?” He was talking about people outside the rally: he wanted people let in, essentially accepting the threat posed by weapons in the crowd.

“Everything I hear from the Jan. 6 committee hearings shows all the puzzle pieces put together,” Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) commented this week. “No more gaps. All of it points to the urgent need for DOJ to prosecute Donald Trump. If he is not held accountable, there will be enormous consequences to our democracy.” In addition to his potential crimes that are already known, January 6 committee vice chair Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) revealed at the conclusion of a Tuesday afternoon hearing that Trump tried to call a witness for the panel investigation. Amid concerns about attempts at witness intimidation, Cheney said the committee provided information about Trump’s outreach to the Justice Department. The witness didn’t answer; they informed their lawyer, who notified the committee. The identity of the targeted witness hasn’t been revealed by the committee.

Jayapal is the chair of the House Progressive Caucus and a member of the House Judiciary, Education & Labor, and Budget Committees. Pressley serves as the vice chair of the House Financial Services Committee and a member of the House Oversight Committee. The House riot panel can’t force the Justice Department to charge Trump, but Cheney recently indicated a criminal referral implicating the ex-president remained a possibility. While it wouldn’t mandate action, a referral would come with significant evidence.