Chair of House Jan. 6 panel leaves door open to criminal charges for Trump

In the months that followed the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) insisted on creating a special committee in the lower chamber to investigate the unrest.

Though the panel’s probe was dismissed as a political stunt by many conservatives, its chairman recently suggested that former President Donald Trump could be facing criminal charges as a result of the investigation.

Dem says Trump did “nothing”

During a Sunday morning appearance on CNN’s State of the Union, Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson (D) was asked by host Dana Bash whether Trump’s alleged “lack of action on January 6 may actually warrant a criminal referral.”

In response, Thompson didn’t close the door to an indictment.

“The only thing I can say is highly unusual for any in charge of anything to watch what’s going on and do nothing,” he said, according to The Washington Times.

“That’s our oath”

When asked again by Bash whether he thought the former president had engaged in criminal conduct, the Mississippi lawmaker again left the matter open.

“We don’t know,” Thompson told the host. “We [are] in the process of trying to get all the information,” he added, as The Washington Times reported.

“But I can say if there’s anything that we come upon as a committee that we think would warrant a referral to the Department of Justice, we’ll do that,” the Democrat promised. “That’s our oath as members of Congress. So it’s not just that. It’s any of the other things we’re looking at, if there’s any confidence on the part of our committee that something criminal we believe has occurred, we’ll make the referral.”

Repeated claims debunked

Thompson is far from alone in suggesting that the former president took no action as rioters stormed Capitol Hill. Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney (R), another member of the House select committee investigating the riot, has repeatedly claimed that Trump allowed violence to unfold while doing nothing to intervene.

During a Sunday appearance on CBS’s Face the Nation, Cheney accused the former president of failing to discourage his supporters from rioting.

However, Federalist contributor Tristan Justice wrote an article last month debunking Cheney’s claim that Trump took no action as the violence unfolded. Justice pointed to timelines published by The New York Times and The Washington Post showing that Trump called for calm on Twitter within 25 minutes of the Capitol being breached.

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