According to a report from the Guardian's Hugo Lowell, the House select committee investigating the Jan 6th Capitol riot is changing directions and focusing on criminal conspiracy charges against Donald Trump and possible Republican lawmakers.
Following the first anniversary of the riot that sent lawmakers fleeing for their lives as supporters of the president overwhelmed Capitol police and stormed the halls of Congress, the report notes that several thousand text messages handed over to the committee by former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows have provided investigators with a possible pathway to make conspiracy charges stick.
"The committee’s new focus on the potential for a conspiracy marks an aggressive escalation in its inquiry as it confronts evidence that suggests the former president potentially engaged in criminal conduct egregious enough to warrant a referral to the justice department," Lowell wrote. "House investigators are interested in whether Trump oversaw a criminal conspiracy after communications turned over by Trump’s former chief of staff Mark Meadows and others suggested the White House coordinated efforts to stop Biden’s certification, the sources said."
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The report adds that the investigation is also expanding to Republican lawmakers whose names popped up in the Meadows' texts, with Lowell explaining, "The fact that the select committee has messages suggesting the Trump White House directed Republican members of Congress to execute a scheme to stop Biden’s certification is significant as it could give rise to the panel considering referrals for potential crimes."
"The select committee believes, the sources said, that Trump may be culpable for an obstruction charge given he failed for hours to intervene to stop the violence at the Capitol perpetrated by his supporters in his name," the report continues. "But the select committee is also looking at whether Trump oversaw an unlawful conspiracy that involved coordination between the 'political elements' of the White House plan communicated to Republican lawmakers and extremist groups that stormed the Capitol."
Adding, "That would probably be the most serious charge for which the select committee might consider a referral," Lowell revealed that, to date, "investigators are yet to find evidence tying Trump personally to the Capitol attack, the sources said, and may ultimately only recommend referrals for the straight obstruction charge."
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