Liz Cheney says Jan. 6 committee could make criminal referral for Trump

It’s possible the House select committee investigating the January 6 assault on the Capitol could make a criminal referral to the Justice Department for former President Donald Trump, committee vice chair Rep. Liz Cheney said Sunday. 

Cheney made the comments on ABC’s “This Week,” as committee members say more information is coming forward following last week’s explosive testimony from 26-year-old former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson. The Justice Department would decide if Trump should bear any criminal responsibility, and the committee will eventually decide whether to make a referral, Cheney said. 

“I think we may well as a committee have a view on that, and if you just think about it from the perspective of what kind of man knows that a mob is armed and sends the mob to attack the Capitol and further incites that mob when his own vice president is under threat, when the Congress is under threat,” Cheney said Sunday. “It’s just — it’s very chilling, and I think certainly we will, you know, continue to present to the American people what we found.”

Pressed to directly answer whether it’s possible there will be a criminal referral for the ex-president, Cheney responded, “Yes.” 

That’s a tone that differs from the committee’s chairman, Rep. Bennie Thompson. He told reporters last month that the committee “does not have authority” to refer criminal charges for Trump. At the time, Cheney and other members appeared to diverge from that conclusion, and leave room for the possibility of criminally referring the ex-president. 

“The committee has not issued a conclusion regarding potential criminal referrals. We will announce a decision on that at an appropriate time,” Cheney posted on Twitter at the time

On Sunday, Cheney pointed out that the Justice Department doesn’t need to wait on the committee to make a criminal referral. 

Last week, Hutchinson testified that the former president was aware his supporters on the National Mall had weapons, and wanted them let into his rally regardless. She testified that Trump said “something to the effect of, ‘I don’t effing care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me. Take the effing mags away. Let my people in. They can march the Capitol from here. Let the people in. Take the effing mags away,’” referring to the magnetometers, or metal detectors, used for security screening. 

Hutchinson also testified that former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani sought presidential pardons. 

Committee member Rep. Adam Schiff told CBS News’ “Face the Nation” Sunday that more information is coming to light following Hutchinson’s testimony. 

“There’s certainly more information that is coming forward,” Schiff said. “In terms of whether that will materialize into particular witnesses on this topic or that topic, we’re going to wait and see, but we are following additional leads. I think those leads will lead to a new testimony.”

And Republican committee member Rep. Adam Kinzinger, on CNN’s “State of the Union,” said the committee will hear from witnesses he did not expect to hear from during the investigation. 

“Yes. Yes. There will be — there is,” he said Sunday. “There will be way more information. And stay tuned.”

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