Jan. 6 Panel Could Make Criminal Referral Against Trump, Cheney Reveals

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Alex Wong/Getty
Alex Wong/Getty

After a shocking week in which a former White House aide gave bombshell testimony about Donald Trump’s unhinged behavior the day of the Capitol riot, lawmakers on the Jan. 6 committee said criminal referrals—even one against the former president—haven’t been ruled out.

Reps. Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Adam Schiff (D-CA) appeared on ABC’s This Week and CBS’ Face the Nation, respectively, to preview the committee’s next steps after Tuesday’s startling testimony by Cassidy Hutchinson, who said Trump lunged at his presidential driver in an effort to get him to take him to the Capitol just before the riot.

Host Jonathan Karl asked Cheney whether the committee could refer Trump for criminal prosecution and she replied “yes.”

“We may well as a committee have a view on that,” Cheney noted. “And if you just think about it from the perspective of—what kind of man knows that the mob is armed and sends the mob to attack the Capitol? And further incites that mob when his own vice president is under threat, when the Congress is under threat. It’s very chilling.”

“The Justice Department doesn’t have to wait for the committee to make a criminal referral,” she added. “And there could be more than one criminal referral.”

Schiff toed the same line in an interview with CBS’ Margaret Brennen, arguing Trump should not escape responsibility for the attack on the Capitol regardless of how politically difficult it could be to charge him.

“Immunizing a former president who has engaged in wrongdoing,” he said, “I would agree with our vice chair—I think is more dangerous than anything else.”

“The decision not to move forward with an investigation or not to move forward the prosecution because of someone’s political status or political influence or because they have a following, to me that is a far more dangerous thing to our Constitution than following the evidence wherever it leads, including when it leads to a former president,” Schiff said.

The committee has not said whether it believes it has the evidence to refer Trump for prosecution, nor has it said whether it has evidence corroborating Hutchinson’s testimony. Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) told CNN Sunday, however, that the committee plans to continue introducing previously unreported stories.

“There will be way more information,” he said. “Stay tuned.”

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