- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 6, 2022

The chairman of the House Jan. 6 committee confirmed on Tuesday that the panel will make criminal referrals to the Justice Department as it concludes its investigation into the events that led to the pro-Trump attack on the Capitol in 2021.

Rep. Bennie G. Thompson, Mississippi Democrat, told reporters the committee has “made decisions on criminal referrals.”

Asked whether the committee would pursue charges, Mr. Thompson replied, “We will.”

Lawmakers are meeting Tuesday to talk about their next steps.

The chairman did not provide further detail as to whom the committee intends to refer for charges. But he said the committee members are in discussions about whether they believe any witnesses perjured themselves during the 18-month investigation.

He said the referrals would be issued separately from the committee’s final report, which is expected in the coming weeks.

SEE ALSO: Family of fallen Capitol Police officer snubs Republicans during Congressional Gold Medal ceremony

Throughout its series of public hearings over the summer, the Democrat-led panel consistently homed in on former President Donald Trump‘s bid to overturn the 2020 presidential election and his role in stoking the violence that befell the Capitol.

The message the committee’s members delivered constantly was that the riot at the Capitol was part of a coup engineered by Mr. Trump and he continued to pose a threat to American democracy.

The committee capped its final hearing last month by voting unanimously to issue a subpoena demanding that Mr. Trump turn over documents and testify. The move sparked a legal battle that is likely to outlast the panel’s charter.

In a 14-page memo, the former president called the committee a “witch hunt of the highest level.”

Mr. Trump later sued the panel. He said the subpoena ran afoul of the separation of powers and noted that no other president had been forced to testify to a congressional committee, though some did so voluntarily.

The panel said last month that it is “evaluating next steps” in response to Mr. Trump‘s refusal to appear before the committee.

Mr. Thompson declined to comment Tuesday on whether Mr. Trump was among those being considered for criminal charges by the panel.

The Justice Department has pursued charges for two former White House advisers — Steve Bannon and Peter Navarro — after receiving contempt referrals from Congress for bucking the committee’s demands.

A federal judge last month sentenced Mr. Bannon to four months in prison and ordered him to pay a $6,500 fine after being convicted on contempt of Congress charges in July.

Mr. Bannon has since appealed the conviction. His prison term has been delayed pending that appeal.

Mr. Thompson spoke to reporters on Tuesday as lawmakers made their way to the Capitol Rotunda for a Congressional Gold Medal ceremony to honor law enforcement officers who responded to the attack.

During the ceremony, the family of fallen U.S. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who died of natural causes one day after responding to the attack, refused to shake hands with Republican lawmakers in protest over their refusal to swiftly condemn the attack.

Sicknick’s mother Gladys Sicknick called the lawmakers “two-faced.” She appeared to refer to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s continued support for Mr. Trump.

“I’m just tired of them standing there and saying how wonderful the Capitol Police is and then they turn around and … go down to Mar-a-Lago and kiss his ring and come back and stand here and sit with — it just hurts,” she told CNN.

The family members also refused to shake hands with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican.

• Joseph Clark can be reached at jclark@washingtontimes.com.

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