Fact check: Jan. 6 committee could make referrals to Justice Department, can't order arrest

The claim: The Jan. 6 committee is ‘ready to arrest’ Donald Trump after reviewing Secret Service text messages

The House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol did not gather as planned this week because of Hurricane Ian, but a Facebook post claims the panel of lawmakers is poised to make a significant move.

“REPORT IS COMING! Pelosi's panel READY TO ARREST Trump after reviewing 100k+ Secret Service texts,” reads the caption of a Sept. 25 video, which has been viewed more than 13,000 times in four days.

But the claim is false. The committee does not have the power to arrest anyone, only to make recommendations to the Justice Department, which would then make its own determination whether to investigate.

The 25-minute video with the post also does not support or relate to the claim of a Trump arrest. It is a clip from a CNN broadcast that includes an interview with Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., who is on the committee, in which she responds to questions about the now-delayed hearing.

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USA TODAY reached out to the user who shared the claim for comment.

Jan. 6 committee can only make recommendations to prosecutors

The committee has the ability to refer cases to the Justice Department, but those referrals are “just recommendations with no legal force,” Daniel Richman, a former federal prosecutor and law professor at Columbia University, told USA TODAY.

"The (Justice Department) would doubtless take such recommendations seriously, particularly if strong support in law and fact are provided," Richman said. "But it is under no obligation to proceed."

The primary objective of the committee is not to make criminal referrals, but to write a comprehensive report about what led to the Jan. 6 attack and make recommendations to avoid similar events in the future, the New York Times reported.

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The committee last met in a public setting in July, following a string of eight hearings that revealed more about the deadly riot and now-former President Donald Trump's efforts to hold on to power.

Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., recently revealed that the committee has received about 800,000 pages of communication materials from the Secret Service. She said most text messages from on or around Jan. 6, 2021, which the committee has requested, haven't been recovered.

PolitiFact also debunked the claim.

Our rating: False

Based on our research, we rate FALSE the claim that the Jan. 6 committee is "ready to arrest" Donald Trump after reviewing Secret Service text messages. The committee does not have the power to arrest anyone. It can only make referrals to the Justice Department, which is under no obligation to follow through with an investigation.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: Jan. 6 panel can make criminal referrals to prosecutors