After 18 months of investigation, the House Select Committee released its final report on the events of January 6 and revealed the scope and purpose of its scrutiny. Coming in at 845 pages, the nine-member panel’s conclusion lays the blame squarely on the shoulders of former President Donald Trump – though no one should be surprised.
“The central cause of January 6th was one man, former President Donald Trump, who many others followed,” the report bluntly states. “None of the events of January 6th would have happened without him.”
A January 6 Festivus?
After dominating headlines in the left-leaning media and generating thousands of hours of coverage, very few surprises were forthcoming. What the report did provide, however, was an opportunity for the seven Democrats and two openly anti-Trump Republicans to vent their anger at the former president.
“Our institutions are only strong when those who hold office are faithful to our Constitution,” soon-to-be former Representative Liz Cheney, vice-chairwoman of the committee, wrote. “Part of the tragedy of Jan. 6 is the conduct of those who knew that what happened was profoundly wrong, but nevertheless tried to downplay it, minimize it or defend those responsible.”
Cheney’s sentiments were strongly echoed by Chairman Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, who wrote the foreword for the committee’s conclusion:
“The rioters were inside the halls of Congress because the head of the executive branch of our government, the then-President of the United States, told them to attack… Donald Trump summoned that mob to Washington, DC. Afterward, he sent them to the Capitol to try to prevent my colleagues and me from doing our Constitutional duty to certify the election. They put our very democracy to the test.”
Charges and Accusations
“The Select Committee estimates that in the two months between the November election and the January 6th insurrection, President Trump or his inner circle engaged in at least 200 apparent acts of public or private outreach, pressure, or condemnation, targeting either State legislators or State or local election administrators, to overturn State election results,” the report notes.
These acts of “outreach” are among the criminal referrals the committee made earlier this week. Outlining what Rep. Thompson calls a “roadmap to justice,” the panel asked the Department of Justice to consider charges including conspiracy to defraud the United States, obstructing an official proceeding, and aiding an insurrection. That decision now rests with Attorney General Merrick Garland, who will ultimately decide whether to proceed with the recommendations.
The Accrual of Power?
As well as being a personal condemnation of Donald Trump, the report details the committee’s legislative recommendations, ostensibly intended to prevent future presidents from engaging in similar behavior. The panel presents plans to overhaul the Insurrection Act and Electoral Count Act, the latter being voted on by the House today, Dec. 23, as part of the $1.7 trillion omnibus bill. Perhaps unsurprisingly, there was also a recommendation that the 14th Amendment be “strengthened” to ban “insurrectionists” from holding public office in the future.
In a move that might come back to haunt the current majority, the panel also said Congress should consider legislation to bolster its subpoena power. With Republicans set to take the reins in January, a laundry list of investigations is almost certain to generate a considerable number of subpoenas.
The man at the heart of the report appeared undaunted by the committee’s condemnation. Writing on his TruthSocial account, the former president declared, “The highly partisan Unselect Committee Report purposely fails to mention the failure of Pelosi to heed my recommendation for troops to be used in D.C., show the ‘Peacefully and Patrioticly [sic]’ words I used, or study the reason for the protest, Election Fraud. WITCH HUNT!”
That the committee’s findings will be used to deal political damage to Trump’s 2024 campaign for the presidency is a certainty. However, whether the criminal referrals come to fruition is another matter entirely. With the GOP about to take over the House, Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), who will likely take over as speaker, has already intimated that he will wield his gavel to hold Democrats to account. Should he choose to provide a congressional response to the committee’s findings, Pelosi’s alleged failures and the information not included in the final report could well be a far greater spectacle than the initial Democrat-led investigation.
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