Jan. 6 committee votes to refer Trump to DOJ on multiple criminal charges

By Aditi Sangal, Maureen Chowdhury, Elise Hammond, Melissa Macaya and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 2:48 AM ET, Tue December 20, 2022
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5:45 p.m. ET, December 19, 2022

Jan. 6 committee chair says he's "convinced" Trump will be charged by DOJ with help of panel's evidence

Former President Donald Trump arrives on stage to announce his plans to run for president during an event at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, on November 15.
Former President Donald Trump arrives on stage to announce his plans to run for president during an event at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, on November 15. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Jan. 6 committee chair Rep. Bennie Thompson said the evidence that supports the panel's decision to refer former President Donald Trump to the Justice Department for several criminal charges is "clear," adding that he is "convinced" that the DOJ will ultimately charge Trump.

"The committee looked at it long and hard, and from my vantage point, we couldn't do anything except make the referral," Thompson told CNN after Monday's meeting, acknowledging the unprecedented nature of the referral.

"It was clear in the evaluation of the evidence uncovered by our committee that those actions taken by the president... former President Trump, clearly created a problem for this country," he added.

The committee also voted to approve its final report which will be released to the public Wednesday. That report will contain most of the evidence from the 17-month long investigation — including full transcripts from more than 1,000 interviews.

"We think it's important for the Justice Department to look at that body of information that we put together," he said.

"I'm convinced that now that our committee has released our information, they will take the information that we've shared with them and proceed with the investigation," Thompson said referring to the ongoing DOJ investigation into Trump. "I have no doubt that once the investigation proceeds and is concluded, if the evidence is as we presented it, I'm convinced the Justice Department will charge former President Trump. No one — including a former president — is above the law."

Watch:

2:57 p.m. ET, December 19, 2022

Kellyanne Conway testified that Trump described rioters as "upset" the day after the attack 

From CNN's Devan Cole

A video showing Kellyanne Conway is played during the House select committee meeting on Monday.
A video showing Kellyanne Conway is played during the House select committee meeting on Monday. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)

Trump “minimized the seriousness of the attack” in the days following the riot, Jan. 6 committee member Rep. Elaine Luria said, specifically citing testimony that Trump's former senior adviser Kellyanne Conway gave to the committee. 

“There's no doubt that President Trump thought that the actions of the rioters were justified. In the days after Jan. 6, he spoke to several different advisers. And in those conversations, he minimized the seriousness of the attack,” Luria said before airing testimony from Conway. 

Asked to describe her conversation with Trump the day after the riot, Conway, said she didn't think it was very long. “I don’t think it was very long. I just said that was just a terrible day.” 

Trump, Conway said, responded to her saying, "These people are upset. They’re very upset.”  

CNN previously reported that Trump similarly described rioters as being “upset” during a heated phone call he had with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy while the insurrection was underway, claiming the rioters cared more about the election results than the California Republican did. 

“Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are,” Trump said, according to lawmakers who were briefed on the call afterward by McCarthy. 

Trump’s comment set off what GOP lawmakers familiar with the call described as a shouting match between the two men. A furious McCarthy told Trump the rioters were breaking into his office through the windows, and asked, “Who the f–k do you think you are talking to?” according to a Republican lawmaker familiar with the call. 

2:49 p.m. ET, December 19, 2022

CNN's Audie Cornish: It was valuable for the committee to focus on consequences of Trump's lies for the public

The Jan. 6 committee brought some focus on the consequences of former President Donald Trump's lies for "regular people," CNN's Audie Cornish said after the committee's final public meeting, including the "election workers who suffered because they were caught up in a vortex of lies and the conspiracy theories."

"Even the insurrectionists who have gone to say, 'I went because the president told me to go,'" she added.

"These lives have been affected. Hundreds of people have faced charges from the DOJ. I think for us, it's like legal theory still. But lots of people's lives were really torn apart by that day," she said on CNN.

"I think it was valuable for the committee to acknowledge and underscore that in its final meeting," Cornish added.

5:18 p.m. ET, December 19, 2022

Here's what’s in the House Jan. 6 committee report summary

From CNN's Tierney Sneed, Sara Murray, Zachary Cohen, Annie Grayer and Marshall Cohen

The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol has concluded that former President Donald Trump was ultimately responsible for the insurrection, laying out for the public and the Justice Department a trove of evidence for why he should be prosecuted for multiple crimes.

The summary describes in extensive detail how Trump tried to overpower, pressure and cajole anyone who wasn’t willing to help him overturn his election defeat — while knowing that many of his schemes were unlawful. His relentless arm-twisting included election administrators in key states, senior Justice Department leaders, state lawmakers, and others. The report even suggests possible witness tampering with the committee’s investigation.

The committee repeatedly uses forceful language to describe Trump’s intent: that he “purposely disseminated false allegations of fraud” in order to aid his efforts to overturn the 2020 election and to successfully solicit about $250 million in political contributions. “These false claims provoked his supporters to violence on January 6th.”

The full report, based on 1,000-plus interviews, documents collected including emails, texts, phone records and a year and a half of investigation by the nine-member bipartisan committee, will be released Wednesday, along with along with transcripts and other materials collected in the investigation.

Here are some key things from the report summary:

Committee referring Trump and others to DOJ: The House committee lays out a number of criminal statutes it believes were violated in the plots to stave off Trump’s defeat and says there’s evidence for criminal referrals to the Justice Department for Trump, Trump attorney John Eastman and “others.”

The report summary says there’s evidence to pursue Trump on multiple crimes, including obstruction of an official proceeding, conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to make false statements, assisting or aiding an insurrection, conspiring to injure or impede an officer and seditious conspiracy.

Trump's false victory was "premeditated": The committee outlines 17 findings from its investigation that underpin its reasoning for criminal referrals, including that Trump knew the fraud allegations he was pushing were false and continued to amplify them anyway.

Several members of Congress being referred to House Ethics Committee: The select committee is referring several Republican lawmakers who refused to cooperate with the investigation to the House Ethics Committee.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, as well as Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio, Scott Perry of Pennsylvania and Andy Biggs of Arizona, could all face possible sanctions for their refusal to comply with committee subpoenas.

2:29 p.m. ET, December 19, 2022

Read the executive summary released by the committee Monday

The Jan. 6 committee voted to approve its final report and criminal referrals against former President Donald Trump Monday.

While the full report won't be available to the public until Wednesday, the panel released an executive summary following its meeting.

The summary describes in extensive detail how Trump tried to overpower, pressure and cajole anyone who wasn’t willing to help him overturn his election defeat – while knowing that many of his schemes were unlawful. 

Read the executive summary here:

2:50 p.m. ET, December 19, 2022

4 GOP lawmakers are being referred to House Ethics panel for not complying with committee subpoenas

From CNN's Tierney Sneed

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

Rep. Jamie Raskin, who announced the referrals at Monday’s public meeting, said they were being referred for “appropriate sanction by the House Ethics Committee for failure to comply with lawful subpoenas.” 

An executive summary released after the meeting identifies the four Republicans as: GOP leader Kevin McCarthy and Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio, Andy Biggs of Arizona and Scott Perry of Pennsylvania.

CNN has reached out to all four GOP members who were referred to House Ethics for defying the committee's subpoenas.

“This is just another partisan and political stunt made by a Select Committee that knowingly altered evidence, blocked minority representation on a Committee for the first time in the history of the US House of Representatives, and failed to respond to Mr. Jordan’s numerous letters and concerns surrounding the politicization and legitimacy of the Committee’s work," Russell Dye, spokesperson for Rep. Jim Jordan, told CNN.

5:49 p.m. ET, December 19, 2022

JUST IN: Jan. 6 committee approves final report and criminal referrals against Trump

From CNN's Jeremy Herb and Tierney Sneed

(Pool)
(Pool)

The House Jan. 6 committee voted Monday to approve its historic final committee report and refer former President Donald Trump to the Justice Department on multiple criminal charges for his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol. 

The committee voted unanimously at the end of its final public meeting Monday to adopt the report and criminal referrals for Trump and others. The final report won't be released publicly until Wednesday.

The committee referred Trump to the Justice Department for obstructing an official proceeding, defrauding the US, making false statements and giving aid or comfort to an insurrection, the panel said Monday.

The committee said at Monday's hearing that there is sufficient evidence to refer Trump on those four potential crimes.

Committee member Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Democrat from Maryland, said that those "are not the only statutes that are potentially relevant to President Trump’s conduct related to the 2020 election” and that "depending on evidence developed by the Department of Justice, the President’s actions could certainly trigger other criminal violations."

The committee said it was also advancing criminal referrals for attorney John Eastman and "others" to the Justice Department for investigation and potential prosecution.

There is evidence to justify an Eastman referral to DOJ on obstruction of an official proceeding and conspiracy to defraud the United States, the committee said Monday. Raskin said that the committee believed the conduct of others may also warrant Justice Department investigation and prosecution, but those referrals were not identified on Monday.

"Our report describes in detail the actions of numerous co-conspirators who agreed with, and participated in, Trump’s plan to impair, obstruct and defeat the certification of President Biden’s electoral victory," Raskin said.

"That said, the subcommittee does not attempt to determine all of the potential participants in this conspiracy, as our understanding of the role of many individuals may be incomplete even today because they refused to answer our questions. We trust that the Department of Justice will be able to form a more complete picture through its investigation."

2:43 p.m. ET, December 19, 2022

Trump was warned of violence before Jan. 6, but refused to encourage peaceful protest

From CNN's Hannah Rabinowitz

Trump supporters participate in a rally in Washington, DC, on January 6, 2021.
Trump supporters participate in a rally in Washington, DC, on January 6, 2021. (John Minchillo/AP)

In the lead up to Jan. 6, 2021, then-President Donald Trump ignored warnings from advisors about the potential for violence and rejected any suggestion that he should explicitly tell supporters to be peaceful, Rep. Stephanie Murphy said Monday. 

Murphy pointed to a text message exchange provided to the committee by Hope Hicks, Trump's former communications director. In the exchange, Hicks and then White House Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley discussed getting Trump to tweet out a message to his supporters. Gidley texted Hicks that Trump “really should tweet something about Being NON-violent.”  

Hicks responded that she had already “suggested it several times” without success. 

In a recorded interview played by the committee on Monday, Hicks said, “I didn’t speak to the President about this directly, but I communicated with people like [Trump White House lawyer] Eric Herschmann that it was my view that it was important that the President put out some kind of message in advance of the event” about being peaceful. 

“Mr. Herschmann said that he had made the same recommendation directly to the President and that he had refused,” Hicks said in her interview with the committee, a video of which was played Monday. 

Despite his staff’s warnings, Murphy said, Trump took to the stage on Jan. 6, 2021, and encouraged his supporters to “fight like hell,” and sent them marching to the Capitol building. 

2:37 p.m. ET, December 19, 2022

House committee on DOJ referrals: "Masterminds and ringleaders" cannot get a "free pass"

From CNN's Tierney Sneed

The House Select Committee announced at Monday’s meeting it was recommending criminal referrals to the Justice Department as part of its investigation into Jan. 6.

“Ours is not a system of justice where foot soldiers go to jail and the masterminds and ringleaders get a free pass,” said Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Democrat who sits on the committee.

The committee chose to advance referrals because of “where the gravity of the specific offense, the severity of its actual harm, and the centrality of the offender to the overall design of the unlawful scheme to overthrow the election, compel us to speak,” he added. 

As a starting point, the committee relied on opinions issued by a federal judge in California, who determined emails to and from Trump attorney John Eastman showed evidence of a crime. That legal ruling allowed the committee to pierce the privileges that typically would have shielded them from view. 

“The judge concluded that both former President Donald Trump and John Eastman likely violated two federal criminal statutes,” Raskin said. 

Watch: