Representative Adam Schiff, a member of the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection at the US Capitol, said Wednesday that evidence gathered by the panel supports a potential indictment of former president Donald Trump.
In an interview with NPR, the California Democrat was asked whether he believes Trump committed “specific, prosecutable crimes” on Jan. 6 or before.
“Yes, I do,” Schiff replied. He referenced a federal judge writing in a March ruling that Trump “more likely than not” committed crimes when he attempted to stop the congressional certification of Joe Biden’s win in the 2020 presidential election.
That ruling, Schiff said, is “just one instance, one particular offense that I think the facts support a potential charge against the former president.”
“The Justice Department, in my view, needs to hold everyone equally responsible before the law, and that includes former presidents when they engage in criminality,” Schiff continued.
Schiff’s comments come days after the committee’s chair, Representative Bennie Thompson, said it would present the Justice Department with evidence that some people, including Trump, committed federal crimes in connection with the effort to overturn the results of the election. He did not specify who or what charges the panel would refer to the department.
Congress can make criminal referrals to the Justice Department, but it does not have the power to issue criminal charges. The Justice Department is already investigating Trump’s efforts to overturn the election, and Attorney General Merrick Garland last month named a special counsel to oversee the probe.
With the committee set to dissolve with the start of the next Congress in January, Schiff said the committee intends to publicize its findings to avoid what he described as the potential for Republicans to “cherry pick certain evidence and mislead the country with some false narrative.”
Thompson said Wednesday that the committee is set to release the report and its decisions on potential criminal referrals on Dec. 21.
The committee held a series of televised hearings over the summer and fall that revealed new details of multi-part efforts to overturn the 2020 election, including plans to seize voting machines and submit an alternate slate of electors in key battleground states that Biden won. During the hearings, high-ranking Trump administration officials testified to Trump’s behavior and statements on Jan. 6, and described Trump’s efforts to remain in power despite being told repeatedly that he had lost.
In other revelations, the committee illustrated the close proximity the rioters came to then-vice president Mike Pence, a target of their ire due to the false theory Trump and conservative law professor John Eastman pushed that Pence could unilaterally block the certification on Jan. 6, and played phone recordings to show the fear Secret Service agents felt as the violent mob overtook the Capitol.
The committee capped its hearings in October by voting unanimously to subpoena Trump.