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Jan. 6 commission could criminally refer Donald Trump to Justice Department multiple times, Representative Liz Cheney says

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The selected House committee investigating the January 6, 2021 insurgency could make multiple criminal references to former President Donald Trump’s Justice Department over its role in the attack on the U.S. Capitol, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), the vice chair of the committee chair, said in an interview that aired Sunday.

“The Justice Department doesn’t have to wait for the commission to make a criminal referral,” Cheney said on ABC’s “This Week.” “And there could be more than one criminal reference.”

Cheney stressed that the commission’s objectives were not political, but also that the Justice Department should not fail to prosecute Trump over political optics concerns if the evidence warrants criminal charges.

In an interview with ABC on July 3, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) that the goals of the House committee investigating Jan. 6, 2021 are not political. (Video: The Washington Post)

“I think it’s a much bigger constitutional threat if a president can engage in this kind of activity, and the majority of the party’s party looks away from the president, or we as a country decide we’re not going to take our constitutional obligations really seriously,” he said. said Cheney.

Cheney expressed serious concern over the idea that Trump would run as the GOP’s third presidential candidate.

“I think there’s no doubt about it, I mean, a man as dangerous as Donald Trump can absolutely never be near the Oval Office again,” Cheney said.

The Republican Party, she said, could not survive if Trump were the 2024 presidential candidate.

“Millions of people, millions of Republicans have been betrayed by Donald Trump. And that’s very painful for people to recognize and admit, but it’s definitely the case,” Cheney said. “And they have been betrayed by him, by the big lie and by what he continues to do and say to tear our country and our party apart.”

The interview was Cheney’s first since the Jan. 6 committee began holding public hearings, and it was taped days after Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, gave amazing testimony about Trump’s actions — and inaction — on the day. of the attack on the Capitol.

Hutchinson testified last week that Trump knew some of his supporters were armed but urged them to march to the Capitol anyway, and that he was reportedly indifferent to the mob’s threats to impeach Vice President Mike Pence to hang.

“What kind of man knows a mob is armed and sends the mob to attack the Capitol and further incites that mob when his own vice president is threatened? When Congress Is Threatened?” said Cheney. “It’s very chill.”

Trump and his allies have since tried to discredit Hutchinson, but Cheney said she had “absolute confidence” in the testimony of the former White House aide. Hutchinson also testified last week that Trump was “furious” when told he would not be able to travel to the Capitol with his supporters after his speech on the Ellipse, and that she was told Trump furiously went to his security detail while inside. the presidential limousine.

Asked if the commission had additional evidence to corroborate Hutchinson’s testimony, Cheney said the commission had “important evidence on a range of matters, including the president’s intense anger” in the presidential limousine. Cheney strongly suggested that anyone who denied Hutchinson’s version of events also testify under oath before the committee.

“What Cassidy Hutchinson did was an incredible example of courage, courage and patriotism despite real pressure,” Cheney said. “The commission will not stand by as her character is murdered by anonymous sources and by men claiming administrative law.”

Former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson testified on June 28 about President Donald Trump’s actions surrounding the January 6 attack on the Capitol. (Video: JM Rieger/The Washington Post, Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), the only other GOP member on the Jan. 6 committee, told CNN’s State of the Union that more witnesses have come forward since the hearings began, including since Hutchinson testified.

“I don’t want to go into anyone or any of the details,” Kinzinger said. Every day we get new people coming up and saying, ‘Hey, I didn’t think this piece of a story I knew was important.’ †

The Jan. 6 commission had already interviewed two people who were in the presidential limousine at the time of Trump’s reported outburst: Robert Engel, former head of Trump’s Secret Service, and Anthony Ornato, who set up physical security in the White House. House coordinated.

Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), a Jan. 6 committee member, told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that Ornato’s memory “doesn’t seem to be as accurate” as Hutchinson’s, but hesitated when asked if Ornato had given his testimony before the committee under oath.

Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), another member of the Jan. 6 committee, said Sunday that he could not go into detail about what Engel and Ornato had previously shared with the committee, but that committee members would be interested in the two men return to “shed light” on what happened in the presidential limousine.

The committee, he added, was also “in talks” with attorneys for former White House attorney Pat Cipollone, who has interviewed the committee before but would like to bring back for further testimony. Hutchinson testified last week that Cipollone had warned of the legal risks to Trump if he went to the Capitol on Jan. 6.

“But most importantly, there doesn’t seem to be any disagreement that the president was outraged that he couldn’t accompany this armed mob to the Capitol,” Schiff said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “That doesn’t seem to be disputed by anyone except Donald Trump, who, as we’ve seen in the past, has no credibility at all.”

Schiff said he agreed with Cheney that there could be multiple criminal references from Trump to the Justice Department and that it would do much more damage to the country if Trump were not investigated out of concern for further political division.

Schiff warned that if the Justice Department took the position that it cannot investigate or indict a former president, it would elevate Trump to someone above the law.

“That’s a very dangerous idea that the founders would never have subscribed to — even more dangerous, I think, in the case of Donald Trump,” Schiff said. “Donald Trump is one who has shown that, when not held accountable, he commits progressively worse abuses of power.”

The Jan. 6 commission continues to investigate any connections between the Trump White House and far-right white nationalist groups that participated in the Capitol attack, it said.

“Our next hearing will focus on efforts to rally that crowd to the [National] Mall: Who participated, who funded it, how it was organized, including the participation of these white nationalist groups like the Proud Boys and Three Percenters and others,” Schiff said. “I think we got some answers, but there’s still a lot that we don’t know we’ll find out.”

Nick Miroff contributed to this report.

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