The House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol has enough evidence to refer former President Donald Trump for criminal charges, the vice chair of the panel, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), said Sunday.
“It’s absolutely clear that what President Trump was doing, what a number of people around him were doing, that they knew it was unlawful. They did it anyway,” Cheney told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union.”
She was responding to a New York Times report asserting that the committee leaders were divided over whether to criminally refer Trump to the Justice Department, despite concluding they had enough evidence to do so on charges of obstructing a congressional proceeding and conspiring to defraud the American people. The report cited people involved in the discussions.
According to Cheney, the committee has not yet decided on whether to make a referral.
“I think what we have seen is a massive and well organized and well-planned effort that used multiple tools to try to overturn an election,” Cheney said.
Among other elements, she cited details from a recent plea agreement from one of the leaders of the far-right Proud Boys, Charles Donohoe, who admitted to conspiring to help organize an attack on Congress by Trump supporters and acknowledged the intention to stop the Electoral College proceedings.
She said that the evidence showed that those involved in planning the events of Jan. 6 “knew that they were going to attempt to use violence to stop the transfer of power.”
“That is the definition of an insurrection,” she said.
She said the panel has a “tremendous amount of testimony and documents that I think very, very clearly demonstrate the extent of the planning and the organization and the objective.”
That objective was “to try to stop the kind of electoral votes, to try to interfere with that official proceeding,” she added.
She also referred to a ruling last month from a federal judge presiding over a civil suit in which the Jan. 6 committee sought to access emails written by John Eastman, a lawyer who advised Trump on his efforts to block the certification of the Electoral College votes.
U.S. District Judge David Carter found that Trump “more likely than not” corruptly attempted to obstruct the joint session of Congress on Jan. 6, 2021, which would constitute a federal crime. “The illegality of the plan was obvious,” Carter said.
In early March, the House committee said that it had evidence showing that Trump and his associates engaged in a “criminal conspiracy” to prevent Congress from certifying the presidential election results, spread false information about it, and pressured state officials to overturn the results.