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    Friday, February 03, 2023

    Trump, Giuliani among 5 targets as Jan. 6 panel weighs criminal referrals

    Former President Donald Trump speaks at Mar-a-Lago Friday, Nov. 18, 2022, in Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell, File)
    Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani speaks during a news conference on Tuesday, June 7, 2022, in New York. Prosecutors in New York do not plan to bring criminal charges against Giuliani in connection with a probe into his interactions with Ukrainian figures, they revealed in a letter to a judge Monday, Nov. 14, 2022. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)
    Then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows speaks with reporters at the White House, Oct. 21, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

    WASHINGTON — The House Jan. 6 committee is considering criminal referrals against former President Donald Trump, his chief of staff Mark Meadows and at least three other key allies involved in his efforts to overturn the 2020 election, a person familiar with the matter said Thursday.

    Those referrals are being suggested by a subcommittee of the panel and have not officially been approved by the full committee. They also include unofficial former Trump legal adviser John Eastman, Trump’s former lawyer and ex-New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark.

    The person, who asked not to be identified discussing information not yet made public by the panel, didn’t specify what criminal counts might be referred against Trump and the other four. It wasn’t clear whether others might be targeted for referrals.

    Representatives for each of the five men didn’t immediately reply to requests for comment. CNN earlier reported on the potential referrals.

    Such referrals would be recommendations that aren’t legally binding on the Department of Justice or other agencies to follow through on.

    Rep. Bennie Thompson, the Mississippi Democrat who chairs the committee, said members plan to meet virtually over the weekend and he expects decisions to be made then.

    Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Maryland Democrat on the committee and on the subcommittee considering referrals, refused to reveal targets being considered. But, he told reporters at the U.S. Capitol, “We want to make sure no one slips through the cracks.”

    “We want to make sure that the key organizers and movers of this attack don’t escape the scrutiny of the justice system,” Raskin said. “I think anyone who engages in criminal actions needs to be held accountable for them and we’re going to spell that out.”

    Thompson also declined to comment Thursday on whom the committee might recommend charges against. He also said that it’s considering action against fellow members of Congress, though not necessarily criminal referrals.

    That could include referrals to the ethics committee, or state bar associations or civil suits.

    The panel is working to complete a final report on last year’s assault on the Capitol by Trump supporters, who were seeking to prevent the certification of Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election. It tentatively plans to release the report on Dec. 21.

    The committee has focused on Clark’s role during the end of the Trump administration within the Justice Department, in conjunction with efforts by Eastman, Giuliani and Meadows, to persuade Georgia and other states to use “fake electors” for Trump, instead of electors that provided Biden with victories.

    There have been public indications the Justice Department is already well under way in its own scrutiny of Clark. His mobile phone and other electronic equipment were seized by federal agents in a June search of his home.

    The committee claimed in a legal filing in March in federal court in Santa Ana, Calif., that “evidence and information available to the committee establishes a good-faith belief that Mr. Trump and others may have engaged in criminal and/or fraudulent acts” and that Eastman’s “legal assistance was used in furtherance of those activities.”

    Judge David O. Carter of the Central District of California later issued a finding in March that, “Based on the evidence, the Court finds it more likely than not that President Trump corruptly attempted to obstruct the Joint Session of Congress on January 6, 2021.”

    He also found that Trump, Eastman and others “entered into an agreement to defraud the United States by interfering with the election certification process,” and that Trump and members of his campaign “engaged in common law fraud in connection with their efforts to overturn the 2020 election results.”

    His findings were not binding.

    The House also has previously voted to hold Meadows in criminal contempt of Congress for his refusal to adequately comply with a committee subpoena, and it referred the matter to the Department of Justice for prosecution. But the DOJ declined to do so.

    —With assistance from Mike Dorning.

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