A leading member of the Jan. 6 select committee said Friday he “really would be surprised” if Attorney General Merrick Garland doesn’t act on the panel’s criminal referrals and indict former President Donald Trump for his conduct relating to the attack on the U.S. Capitol.
“I do think it’s very important that we establish that it’s not just foot soldiers but kingpins who are prosecuted,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., who announced criminal referrals against Trump and others for possible violations of four federal statutes at the committee’s last hearing. “And it’s just wrong to send hundreds of foot soldiers to jail and leave the very clear kingpins unprosecuted.”
Speaking on the final episode of Yahoo News’ “Skullduggery” podcast, Raskin added that Trump “conspired to defraud the government [and] American people. He traded an honest election for a profoundly corrupt and fraudulent election with counterfeit electors. … And he aided and assisted and gave aid and comfort to insurrectionists at multiple points. … I’m very serious about him facing the consequences and paying for the cost of his actions.”
So serious, Raskin said, that Trump could spend “the remaining days of his misanthropic life behind bars, presumably with Secret Service agents. … I mean, would [the Secret Service agents] be standing outside the bars, or would they be inside the bars? Who knows?”
Garland recently named a special counsel, Jack Smith, to oversee investigations into Trump’s role in the Jan. 6 attack, as well as his handling of classified documents he took from the White House, although the attorney general remains the ultimate decision-maker on whether to bring charges. While there are clear signs that the Justice Department is stepping up its probes in recent weeks, including subpoenaing Georgia’s secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, to testify about his Jan. 2, 2021, phone call with Trump, most legal experts say it remains far from clear whether the department will end up charging Trump over the events of Jan. 6 — especially given that the panel never found direct evidence that Trump personally planned or directed the violent attacks on police officers at the Capitol that day.
And at least one of the committee’s referrals — for inciting and providing aid and comfort to an insurrection, a rarely used charge — remains controversial among civil liberties activists. Asked if he was at all uneasy about recommending such a charge that could in the future be used against left-wing protesters, Raskin, a former constitutional law professor, replied, “Not for a second.”
“I mean, if Antifa — which of course was completely absent and invisible on Jan. 6 — decided to bring 40,000 or 50,000 people to Washington and then proceeded to beat the hell out of our police officers and smack them in the face with Confederate battle flags and stab them with sharpened Trump flags, then I would say by all means, if somebody incited that, then they should be prosecuted for it.”
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