The House Select Committee on Jan. 6 has so far requested the Department of Justice bring a charge of criminal contempt against former Donald Trump adviser Steve Bannon and former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. More such requests are expected as numerous members of Trump’s staff, campaign team, and legal team have refused to provide testimony or documents to the committee. However, according to a story in The New York Times, the committee may soon make requests for other charges—including charges against Trump himself.
According to the Times, investigators working with the committee are specifically focused on two other potential crimes. One of these, obstruction of Congress, relates directly to the events on Jan. 6.
Over the last three weeks, information released from the select committee has made it clear that there was more to Republicans in the House and Senate moving to object to the counting of electoral votes than just blind loyalty to Trump. Among other things, Republican members of Congress were briefed on a plan by which their objection could help create an excuse to overturn the results of the election. That included a lengthy PowerPoint presentation given to Republicans by conspiracy theorist Phil Waldron. As more information appears, it increasingly looks as if a large number of Republicans were active participants in a unified scheme to overthrow the United States, making obstruction of Congress seem like a mild charge.
The other big charge pending is wire fraud—and that’s the one that may be most likely to land on Trump.
Even before the election, Donald Trump was fundraising off claims that there was going to be election fraud. In fact, Trump’s claims of widespread fraud began before the 2016 election, and when he lost the popular vote in that election by millions of votes, Trump went on to claim that the difference was caused by fake ballots and “millions of people who voted illegally.” In fact, many of the claims that Trump made in 2020 were recycled from the 2016 campaign—which he was certain he was going to lose.
In both election cycles, Trump didn’t just make unfounded claims about fraud, he used it as a means of raising additional funds. In both 2016 and 2020, Trump voters were bombarded by claims that Trump needed more money so they could fight election fraud. However, those claims went into high gear following the 2020 election when Trump begged repeatedly for funds for his legal team.
In the end, Trump supporters handed over millions supposedly so that Trump could follow through on dozens of losing lawsuits and appeals. However, there’s little evidence that this money was actually spent on that effort.
While members of Trump’s inner circle have refused to appear before the select committee, more than 300 interviews have been conducted, mostly behind closed doors. In addition, a team of 40 investigators is continuing to dig through more than 30,000 documents. According to the Times, some of the witnesses in the last week provided “key” information.
One big clue that the select committee may soon start issuing broader requests for criminal indictments came from Rep. Liz Cheney, one of the two Republicans on the committee. In addition to reading a series of texts that were sent to Meadows by Fox News hosts and pundits, Cheney put her statements in a very clear form, addressing the possibility of criminal behavior.
“These nonprivileged texts are further evidence of President Trump’s supreme dereliction of duty during those 187 minutes, and Mr. Meadows’ testimony will bear on another key question before this committee: Did Donald Trump, through action or inaction, corruptly seek to obstruct or impede Congress’ official proceedings to count electoral votes?”
The other topic that Cheney discussed in this talk was the effort that Trump made to persuade state officials in Georgia and elsewhere to alter the results of the election. It’s not clear what charges might be associated with these actions, but it is clear that the committee is also considering this as part of their investigation.