WASHINGTON – The House panel investigating the Capitol attack on Jan. 6, 2021, will meet in private Friday to discuss potentially urging the Justice Department to pursue criminal charges against former President Donald Trump and others and potential civil complaints against lawyers who allegedly behaved unethically, lawmakers said Wednesday.
The possible recommendations will come from a subcommittee of four lawyers on the nine-member panel: Reps. Jamie Raskin, D-Md.; Adam Schiff, D-Calif.; Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif.; and Liz Cheney, R-Wyo. The group is developing recommendations for possible criminal referrals to the Justice Department or civil referrals to state bar associations, but no decisions have been made, said Raskin, who heads the subcommittee.
“We just want to make sure nothing falls between the cracks,” Raskin said. “We want to make sure that the committee is emphatic that those crimes that are of sufficient gravity, that one branch of government essentially needs to tell another about it.”
The closed committee meeting Friday comes as the panel drafts its final report about its investigation. The committee expires on Dec. 31 and the chairman, Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said he expects the report to be released by Christmas. He said the committee reached a consensus the report will consist of eight chapters.
“Those chapters are being fact-checked and being looked at,” Thompson said. “We’ve not gone pens down on the draft yet. Ultimately, we have to get to the printer and get that process done.”
Raskin said the committee has already urged the Justice Department to pursue criminal charges for contempt of Congress against four people who defied committee subpoenas.
Steve Bannon, a Trump political strategist, has been convicted and sentenced to four months in jail. Peter Navarro, a former Trump trade adviser, awaits trial. But the department declined to pursue charges against Mark Meadows, former White House chief of staff, or Dan Scavino, former deputy chief of staff.
Thompson said the committee has discovered potential criminal activity and ethical violations by lawyers. A federal judge has ruled that John Eastman, a personal lawyer for Trump, more likely than not acted unlawfully in proposing that Vice President Mike Pence reject electors from states that President Joe Biden won.
Eastman has declined to answer questions from the committee or a Georgia grand jury based on his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
“I think there’s information that we have discovered, uncovered that we’ll have to make a decision what we do with it,” Thompson said. “There are a lot of things we’re working through right now.”
Raskin declined to specify who is targeted by the recommendations. A former professor of constitutional law, Raskin led the prosecution of Trump’s second impeachment trial for inciting the Capitol riot, when the Senate acquitted Trump.
“I think that what Donald Trump did when he occupied the Oval Office was the most dangerous set of political assaults on American political institutions in the history of the White House,” Raskin said. “I don’t think any other president has come as close as Trump in terms of the dangerousness of his actions, in terms of destabilizing and potentially overthrowing the constitutional order.”
Trump has said he did nothing wrong in protesting the 2020 election results and urging investigations of alleged election fraud. He is fighting a committee subpoena in federal court.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Jan. 6 committee members to discuss potential criminal recommendations