1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

US Jan. 6 committee recommends Trump be criminally charged

December 19, 2022

The bipartisan committee urged the Justice Department to prosecute Donald Trump for his part in the deadly riot. It is the first time in US history that Congress has recommended charges against a former president.

Former US President Donald Trump
Trump has dismissed the many investigations he faces as politically motivatedImage: Andrew Harnik/AP Photo/picture alliance

The congressional inquiry into last year's riot at the United States Capitol on Monday voted to refer criminal charges against former President Donald Trump to the Justice Department.

The House Select Committee blamed Trump for the violent attack on the Capitol by his supporters.

Slamming Trump for summoning the mob to the Capitol nearly two years ago,  the committee's chairperson, Bennie Thompson criticized the former president for undermining faith in the democratic system.

"If the faith is broken, so is our democracy. Donald Trump broke that faith," Thompson said.

The bipartisan committee unanimously recommended he be charged with insurrection, obstructing an official proceeding, conspiracy to defraud the United States, and conspiracy to make a false statement.

Trump: 'Attempt to sideline me'

Later on Monday, Trump hit back, accusing House lawmakers of recommending "fake charges" against him as part of an attempt to stop him from running for the White House in future.

"This whole business of prosecuting me is just like impeachment was — a partisan attempt to sideline me and the Republican Party," Trump said in a post on his Truth Social platform.

Last month, Trump outlined his intention to run for the White House in 2024.

The committee's final report is to be released on Wednesday and justify recommending the charges.

Thompson said the criminal justice system can provide accountability, adding, "We have every confidence that the work of this committee will help provide a roadmap to justice.''

Committee outlines evidence against Trump

"The committee has developed significant evidence that President Trump intended to disrupt the peaceful transition of power under our Constitution," committee member Jamie Raskin said.

It is the first time in US history that Congress has recommended charges against a former president.

"Every president in our history has defended this orderly transfer of authority except one," the panel’s vice chairperson, Republican Liz Cheney said. 

The committee made a 154-page summary, public as the hearing ended.

It found that Trump engaged in a "multi-part conspiracy'' to overturn the 2020 election, purposely disseminating false allegations of voter fraud, pressuring Congress, the Justice Department and his vice president to join his efforts to subvert the results so that he could stay in power and then refusing for hours to tell his supporters to leave the Capitol on January 6.

The House select committee investigating the attack on the US Capitol holds their final meeting
The committee voted 9-0 to approve its final report, which will include findings, interview transcripts and legislative recommendationImage: Jim Lo Scalzo/REUTERS

While the majority of the report's main findings are not new, altogether it represents one of the most damning portraits of an American president in recent history. 

The referral is mostly symbolic, as it is up to the Justice Department to decide whether to pursue charges.

In November, US Attorney General Merrick Garland, in a move separate from the lawmaker's investigation, appointed Jack Smith to oversee investigations into Trump.

The committee also referred four members of Congress to the House’s Ethics Committee after those members did not comply with the subpoenas from the panel.

An executive summary identifies the four Republicans as Kevin McCarthy, Jim Jordan, Andy Biggs and Scott Perry.

How did the panel come to the decision?

Monday's meeting ended an 18-month investigation into the riot on January 6, 2021 during which Trump supporters stormed Congress in a bid to stop Joe Biden's certification as president.

Many rioters echoed Trump's lies about widespread election fraud.

Five people, including a police officer, died during or shortly after the incident and more than 140 police officers were injured. The Capitol suffered millions of dollars in damage.

Police clear the US Capitol Building with tear gas as supporters of US President Donald Trump gather outside during a riot on January 6, 2021.
Thousands of Trump backers tried to peaceful transfer of power by storming the US CapitolImage: Stephanie Keith/REUTERS

In the aftermath, Republicans in the Senate blocked a bid to convene a bicameral commission to investigate the violence.

Outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi then appointed the committee, made up of seven Democrats and two Republicans, and they held their first meeting in July 2021.

The committee conducted more than 1,000 interviews, held 10 well-watched public hearings, and collected more than a million documents.

With Republicans due to take control of the House of Representatives next month, the Jan. 6 committee is expected to be disbanded.

jsi, lo/es (AP, Reuters, AFP)