The House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol will make criminal referrals to the Department of Justice, committee chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., told reporters on Tuesday.
Speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill, Thompson said the committee has “made decisions on criminal referrals,” but declined to comment on which witnesses or other individuals might be referred to the Justice Department. Thompson also said it is “part of the discussion” whether any witnesses perjured themselves in testimony before the committee.
According to CBS News, Thompson said lawmakers plan to finalize a list of potential referrals during a committee meeting scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.
While the committee has yet to publicly announce its intentions, the panel in early December discussed in a closed-doors meeting the possibility of making criminal referrals to the nation’s leading law enforcement agency, including whether to take the extraordinary step of recommending that the DOJ pursue charges against former President Donald Trump.
Thompson in mid-November created a four-person subcommittee to examine possible criminal and civil referrals, made up of Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., and Adam Schiff, D-Calif, the latter three of whom are all lawyers.
In a July public hearing, Cheney said the committee had “sufficient information to consider criminal referrals for multiple individuals.”
The criminal charges the committee might consider could include witness tampering, perjury and contempt of Congress.
The referral is not necessary for the Justice Department to bring charges, and federal investigators are already examining Trump’s efforts to overturn the election as well as the removal of classified and presidential documents found at his Mar-a-Lago resort. Attorney General Merrick Garland last month appointed a special counsel, Jack Smith, to oversee those probes after Trump announced he’s running for president again in 2024.
The committee’s referrals will be separate from an anticipated final report to be issued before the start of the next Congress, which is expected to be made public by the end of this year. That report will likely include recommendations on how to prevent future attacks on U.S. democracy in an eight-chapter summary that will be published online. Most, though not all, of the testimony heard by the committee will also be included in the public documents.
“The report is half about the past and what we’ve just studied and half about the future and what needs to be done to protect ourselves from similar cycles of coup, insurrection, electoral sabotage and political violence,” Rep. Raskin said of the report, per USA Today.