The House panel showed that Trump conspired to take advantage of the election, but was it illegal?

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Over the course of its historic summer of hearings, the House select committee investigating the deadly insurrection at the US Capitol has “called the crowd, gathered the crowd, and lit the flame of this attack.”

In a dramatic climax Thursday, the panel argued that Trump betrayed his oath of office and failed in his duty when he refused to act for 187 minutes on January 6 as rioters carrying poles, bear spray and the banners of his campaign were leading a bloody assault on the United States Capitol.

Related: House Panel Says Trump ‘Choosed Not to Act’ During Attack on US Capitol

The prime-time presentation provided harrowing, minute-by-minute detail of the siege of the Capitol, while also showing the actions Trump took, but mostly didn’t take, during those excruciating hours when “lives and our democracy hung in the balance.” a thread”.

The panel featured chilling video and audio of the violence on Capitol Hill as Trump loyalists in bulletproof vests battled law enforcement in their quest to keep him in power. As the mob invaded, members of then-Vice President Mike Pence’s Secret Service called in that day say goodbye to relativesrevealed the panel in a heartbreaking reveal.

Amid the chaos, Trump sat idle in the White House, watching it all unfold on a television tuned to Fox News. From a small dining room near the Oval Office, he resisted pleas from his closest aides, congressional Republicans and even his own children to step in and stop the violence, only changing his mind and acquiescing, the committee said, after that the blow was clear. had failed. Even 24 hours later, according to never-before-seen outtakes of a recorded speech, Trump refused to say the election was over.

Trump’s leadership abdication on January 6 was a “stain on our history” and “a disgrace to all those who sacrificed and died in the service of our democracy,” the panel argued forcefully.

But were his actions illegal? It is question at the center of one-year investigation of committee.

Over the course of eight public hearings, the panel has sought to make the case that Trump orchestrated a multi-layered plot to seize another term despite being told repeatedly and in no uncertain terms that his myth of a stolen election was not had foundation.

From hundreds of thousands of documents and hundreds of interviews, the committee showed that Trump, after being rebuffed by the courts at every level, became increasingly desperate in his attempt to overturn the results of an election that his attorney general himself considered free and fair. .

It documented the pressure campaign Trump waged against state and local officials in the areas Biden won, pushing them to reverse their electoral votes. He detailed his efforts to rely on Justice Department officials to support his plan. And it showed how, as the day Congress was to count the electoral votes approached, Trump began publicly and privately pressuring his vice president to reject or delay the proceedings, an unprecedented act a witness told the panel in June. which would have been “equivalent to a revolution within a constitutional crisis”.

Collectively, the panel has sought to provide a full public account of the events of January 6 for the American people and for the historical record.

His work, however, is not finished. The committee continues to receive new information and said Thursday that it would resume public hearings in September.

Vice Chair Liz Cheney, R-Wisconsin, said the committee will spend August “searching and merging information” before reconvening for more hearings in September.

“We have much more to do. We have much more evidence to share with the American people and more to collect,” he said Thursday.

While the committee originally set a September deadline to release a final report on its investigation, lawmakers now say it will only release a preliminary report by then and a full report by the end of the year. The committee must publish a full report before dissolving, which it must do with the start of a new Congress in early January.

“We’re getting a significant amount of information that we didn’t have access to,” said Rep. Bennie Thompson, a Democrat from Mississippi and chair of the committee, told reporters on Monday. “We are unable to meet what we felt was an optimistic timeline.”

The committee’s report is already receiving similar treatment to other major investigations like Watergate and 9/11. Multiple editors including Hachette Y MacMillanwill publish books in September related to the committee’s findings.

But already, the committee has presented evidence that lawmakers and advisers have suggested could be used as the basis for bringing a criminal case against the former president. Among the possible charges that have been discussed are conspiracy to defraud the American people and obstructing an official congressional proceeding. The committee also raised the possibility of witness tampering, announcing at its last hearing that Trump had attempted to contact a witness who was cooperating with his investigation.

“The facts are clear and unequivocal,” Thompson said Thursday.

The Justice Department is conducting a separate investigation into the events of January 6 that resulted in hundreds of arrests, including rare charges of seditious conspiracy against the leaders of violent far-right groups involved in the Capitol breach.

“No person is above the law in this country,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said Wednesday. “I can’t say it more clearly than that.”

Trump has dismissed the panel’s investigation as politically motivated and a witch hunt. He remains the most popular figure in the Republican party and a clear favorite to win the nomination in 2024.

However, there are signs that the committee’s work is having an impact. Half of Americans say Trump should be charged with a crime for his role in the attack, and nearly 6 in 10 say the former president bears “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of responsibility for the violence carried out in the attack. name of him

Shaping the public narrative about Jan. 6, and Trump, was another important goal of the hearing, particularly as he contemplates a fourth White House bid.

“All Americans need to consider this: Can a president who is willing to make the decisions that Donald Trump made during the violence on January 6, be entrusted with any position of authority in our great nation?” Cheney said…

Perhaps his most urgent job was to show Americans that the “forces that Donald Trump ignited that day are not gone,” as Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Illinois, said Thursday. “Militant, intolerant ideologies. the militias Alienation and disaffection. Strange fantasies and misinformation. They’re all still out there, ready to go.”

Millions of voters still believe in the conspiracy that Trump was the rightful winner of the 2020 election. It has fueled a new wave of Republican candidates, who have openly embraced the lie that the 2020 election was illegitimate. many are now your party’s candidate for critical positions such as governor and secretary of state.

Trump was impeached for actions on January 6, but the Senate acquitted him. Cheney said Thursday that much more is known about his brazen, tangled plot than he did, and suggested there might have been enough support to convict him in the Senate if that vote were held today. But the opportunity for political responsibility is no longer available: Trump is out of office, for now.

That is why many, including some on the committee, believe Trump should face legal consequences for his actions.

“If there is no accountability by January 6, for every part of this scheme, I am afraid we will not overcome the continuing threat to our democracy,” Thompson warned. “There must be severe consequences for those responsible.”

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