Late on December 22nd, the House’s Jan. 6 select committee’s submitted its final report. They disbanded, effectively shifting the spotlight to the Justice Department and its efforts to investigate and potentially prosecute allies of Donald Trump and the former president himself.
Federal prosecutors are covering similar ground, yet senior department officials believe it’s unlikely they’re influenced by the 845-page report or other happenings on Capitol Hill. However, the document could guide their investigation, particularly into Trump allies’ efforts to undo the 2020 results by sending false electoral certificates to Congress and the National Archives.
The special counsel’s head of investigation Jack Smith, sent subpoenas to local officials in several battleground states, including Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, in his first weeks on the job to explore the 2020 election controversy. Smith sought communication between election officials and Mr. Trump, his campaign, and a broad group of his allies.
Similarly, a prosecutor in Atlanta is investigating Mr. Trump’s efforts to overturn the presidential election results in Georgia. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis convened a special grand jury, which is expected to release a report recommending whether and against whom criminal charges are appropriate.
The Justice Department had no comment on the release of the committee report or what, if anything, prosecutors would do with the information. Attorney General Merrick Garland said prosecutors watched each of the widely televised hearings put on by the committee, and they have interviewed many of the same witnesses. The Justice Department is now also in receipt of transcripts of interviews the committee conducted, which prosecutors had been seeking for months, viewing them as crucial to their investigation.
The fake electors pledged to Mr. Trump were also an area of focus for the Jan. 6 committee as they believed the effort was a violation of statutes that make it a crime to willfully make a false statement to the government and to commit an offense against the United States. The committee sent the Justice Department a criminal referral which spells out how the plan originated and was adopted by senior officials at the White House and Mr. Trump himself.
The select committee, in addition to Mr. Trump, referred John Eastman, a constitutional law scholar who was advising Mr. Trump in the weeks following his election loss, to the Justice Department for criminal charges. A lawyer representing Mr. Eastman earlier this week criticized the committee in a statement, saying it was “absurdly partisan” and designed to benefit Democrats.
In comments to reporters after the panel voted on the criminal referrals, Mr. Eastman said he was merely researchingelection laws. He recommended that Mr. Pence delay counting Electoral College votes on Jan. 6 because of requests from state legislators.
Ms. Willis, the Democrat attorney in Atlanta, has stated GOP officials involved in the fake elector plot are potential targets of her investigation. The GOP officials have said in court filings that they didn’t break any laws and were attempting to maintain a pathway for Mr. Trump to be declared the winner in the state if he prevailed in legal challenges.
Only time will tell if the Department of Justice can, or rather, will consider the special committee’s findings in its proceedings and abide by their recommendations to uncover those responsible for the events on Jan. 6.
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