The Jan. 6 committee is eyeing multiple alleged crimes for a referral of former President Donald Trump to the Justice Department, CNN reported last week.
According to a source familiar with the matter, they include:
- Obstruction of an official proceeding
- Conspiracy to defraud the federal government
For the latter two, the lawmakers can rely on an opinion from a federal judge in California, who wrote earlier this year that there was evidence that Trump and his allies were plotting to defraud the US government and to obstruct an official proceeding. The opinion was handed down by US District Judge David O. Carter in a dispute over whether the House could access certain emails sent to and from former Trump attorney John Eastman.
The judge cited emails discussing Trump’s awareness that certain voter fraud claims being made in court were inaccurate as evidence of a plot to defraud the federal government. To explain his finding of evidence of obstruction, the judge pointed to emails that showed that the Trump team was contemplating filing lawsuits not to obtain legitimate legal relief, but to meddle in congressional proceedings.
A House referral for an insurrection charge would be a more aggressive move. It’s a crime to assist or engage in “in any rebellion or insurrection against the authority of the United States or the laws.” Judges have used the term “insurrection” to describe the January 6 attack on Congress’ certification of the 2020 presidential election.
But the Justice Department has not opted to bring the charge in its hundreds of US Capitol riot cases. Instead, prosecutors have relied on criminal statutes related to violence, obstruction of an official proceeding, and, in some limited cases, seditious conspiracy.
Who else could be referred? The panel has also weighed criminal referrals for a number of Trump’s closest allies including, Eastman, former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark and Trump’s former lawyer Rudy Giuliani, multiple sources told CNN earlier this month.
Another source cautioned at the time that while names were being considered, there was still discussion to be had before they were finalized.
CNN’s Evan Perez and Katelyn Polantz contributed reporting to this post.