US Capitol riot committee set to issue criminal referrals to DOJ News
© WikiMedia (Tyler Merbler)
US Capitol riot committee set to issue criminal referrals to DOJ

The US House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack on the Capitol Tuesday said it has decided to make criminal referrals to the US Department of Justice (DOJ). Representative Bennie Thompson (D-MS), who chairs the committee, told Axios, “We have made decisions on criminal referrals.” The committee has yet to issue a formal announcement.

The committee plans to send criminal referrals, containing individuals and potential charges to be brought against them, to the DOJ. Thompson and spokespeople for the committee would not confirm how many referrals will be issued. The referrals will contain evidence gathered since the committee was formed on July 1, 2021.

A subcommittee comprised of Representatives Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Adam Schiff (D-CA), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Liz Cheney (R-WY) led the discussion of possible criminal referrals. All four subcommittee members have legal training. The DOJ does not need to formally receive criminal referrals from the committee before launching their own investigation–as evidenced by the recent appointment of DOJ Special Counsel Jack Smith. US Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed Smith in November to oversee the criminal investigations into former President Donald Trump. Those investigations include both the documents seized from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago, Florida estate as well as events surrounding January 6, 2021.

The committee’s congressional authorization expires at the end of the year, and with Republicans set to take control of the House of Representatives, reauthorization is unlikely. The committee held its last public hearing in October. Since then, the committee issued a subpoena to Trump and held an interview with former Vice President Mike Pence.

The committee is expected to gather again on Tuesday, possibly to formalize the decision to issue criminal referrals.