SFor six months, in nine hour-long hearings, the members of the investigative committee publicly reconstructed what had happened on January 6, 2021 in the Capitol in Washington. For a total of a year and a half, members of the House of Representatives compiled statements and evidence on how Donald Trump and his supporters had tried to prevent Joe Biden from transferring power after the 2020 presidential election. They heard more than a thousand witnesses, reviewed more than a million documents, and issued more than a hundred subpoenas.
Finally, on Monday, their work culminated in a symbolic vote: Does the panel recommend that the Justice Department bring charges against former President Donald Trump? The nine committee members, two Republicans and seven Democrats, voted unanimously yes at their most recent public meeting. Trump faces four felonies: riot, conspiracy against the United States, obstruction of Congress and false testimony. Exactly two years earlier, Trump had called his supporters on Twitter in front of the Capitol for January 6: “Be there, it’s going to be wild!”
“Complete Moral Failure”
It is the first time in American history that Congress has directed the Justice Department to prosecute a president. A summary of the final report, which will not be released in its entirety until Wednesday, said the evidence had led to a “firm conclusion”: “The central cause of January 6 was one man, former President Donald Trump, whom many others followed.” It goes on to say, “None of the events of January 6th would have happened without him.”
At the beginning of the last session, the committee chairman, Democrat Bennie Thompson from Mississippi, recalled the American self-image. If you lose an election, you accept that in the spirit of the rule of law. Belief in the system forms the basis of American democracy. “When that foundation is destroyed, our democracy is destroyed,” Thompson said. If America wants to remain the cradle of democracy, something like this should never happen again.
His deputy, Republican Liz Cheney from Wyoming, later added: Every president in American history has defended this orderly transfer of power – “except for one”, Donald Trump. It was a “complete moral failure” on his part. The report’s executive summary describes how Trump pressured everyone from close associates to poll officials to the Justice Department to overturn the election result.
Trump ‘provoked his supporters to violence’
The commission of inquiry’s move to issue a criminal recommendation is notable for its legal significance. The Justice Department alone decides whether to indict Trump. In the fall, the committee refused to be summoned. More weighty is the political charge that accompanies the panel’s recommendations.
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