Jan. 6 committee members push back on chair Bennie Thompson's claim that they won't ask the DOJ to indict Trump

Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., speaks as the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol holds its first public hearing to reveal the findings of a year-long investigation, on Capitol Hill, Thursday, June 9, 2022, in Washington.
Rep. Bennie Thompson speaks during the January 6 committee's first public hearing.Andrew Harnik/AP
  • The Jan. 6 committee chair said it was not the group's job to refer Trump or anyone else to the DOJ for charges.

  • Committee members including Liz Cheney and Adam Schiff pushed back and said such a decision had not been made yet.

  • Rep. Elaine Luria said: "If criminal activity occurred, it is our responsibility to report that activity to the DOJ."

Members of the House committee investigating the Capitol riot pushed back on a claim made by their chair that they would not ask the Department of Justice to indict former President Donald Trump.

Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson, the committee's chairman, told reporters on Monday that the committee would not refer Trump for criminal charges.

"If the Department of Justice looks at it, and assumes that there's something that needs further review, I'm sure they'll do it," he said in response to a question on whether the committee would refer Trump or anyone else to the DOJ, according to CNN.

"No, that's not our job," Thompson added in response to more questioning about whether the committee would refer anyone to the DOJ. "Our job is to look at the facts and circumstances around January 6, what caused it and make recommendations after that."

But some committee members disagreed with that approach, showing rare public cracks within the committee.

"The January 6th Select Committee has not issued a conclusion regarding potential criminal referrals. We will announce a decision on that at an appropriate time," tweeted Rep. Liz Cheney, a Republican serving as the committee's vice chair.

And Rep. Adam Schiff, a Democrat, told CNN's Anderson Cooper on Monday that he had not seen Thompson's comment but was not aware a decision on referrals had been made yet.

"You know, I haven't seen the chairman's statements," he said.

"We haven't had a discussion about that, so I don't know that the committee has reached a position on whether we make a referral or what the referrals might be. I thought we were deferring that decision until we concluded our investigation. At least that's my understanding."

Rep. Elaine Luria tweeted:  "Our committee has yet to vote on whether we will recommend criminal referrals to the Department of Justice. If criminal activity occurred, it is our responsibility to report that activity to the DOJ."

A committee spokesperson told CNN: "The Select Committee has no authority to prosecute individuals, but is rather tasked with developing the facts surrounding the January 6th riot at the Capitol."

"Right now, the committee is focused on presenting our findings to the American people in our hearings and in our report. Our investigation is ongoing and we will continue to gather all relevant information as we present facts, offer recommendations and, if warranted, make criminal referrals."

Members of the committee said on Sunday that they had enough evidence to ask the Department of Justice to indict Trump. The committee held its second public hearing on Monday, with the next one scheduled for Wednesday morning.

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