Jan. 6 committee plans to issue criminal referrals to DOJ, chairman says

January 6 committee Chairman Bennie Thompson presides over a hearing.
Rep. Bennie Thompson at a hearing of the Jan. 6 committee on Oct. 13. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection plans to make criminal referrals to the Justice Department based on its findings, Chairman Bennie Thompson told reporters on Tuesday.

Speaking on Capitol Hill, Thompson, D-Miss., didn’t provide details on who would be implicated for charges based on the Jan. 6 riot by supporters of then-President Donald Trump attempting to stop Joe Biden from being formally recognized as the winner of the 2020 election. The committee is set to meet Tuesday afternoon.

With the panel’s work set to end in weeks, the question of whether charges would be recommended against Trump has loomed over the public proceedings, which began in June. Last month the Washington Post reported that some of the committee’s staff members were upset with the focus in the final report on Trump and not the failures from law enforcement and the intelligence community, blaming the committee’s Republican vice chair, Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming.

 January 6 committee Vice Chair Liz Cheney speaks at a hearing.
Rep. Liz Cheney at a Jan. 6 committee hearing on Capitol Hill on Oct. 13. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Of the people who protested Biden’s win in D.C. on Jan. 6 and ran for office in last month’s midterms, most were defeated, although Derrick Van Orden — who said he attended Trump’s speech but did not set foot on Capitol grounds or participate in the violence — won a race for the U.S. House in Wisconsin, while Max Miller, a former Trump White House staffer who helped plan Trump’s rally that preceded the riot, won a congressional race in Ohio.

Last week the leader of the far-right militia group the Oath Keepers was convicted of seditious conspiracy for his role in the events of Jan. 6, a charge that carries a 20-year prison sentence. Stewart Rhodes and a number of his allies were also convicted of obstructing an official proceeding.

The committee is expected to publish its final report by Christmas. Formed in July 2021 with only two Republican votes (Cheney and Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois), the panel held more than a half-dozen public hearings this year highlighting the efforts to overturn the election in the lead-up to Jan. 6 and the events of the day, from the actions of rioters in the Capitol to Trump’s movements in the White House as the violence occurred.