New York Times reporter Michael Schmidt this week has written a summary of the developments of the House Select Committee investigating Jan. 6 and the attack on the U.S. Capitol.
According to Schmidt, the idea that the committee was thinking of criminal referrals came last week when Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) cited 18 US Code 1505, which makes it illegal to obstruct government operations.
The reporter on Monday talked with MSNBC's Chris Hayes about the latest developments in the committee's probe.
"Look, whatever they have, whatever they know, it was enough for Liz Cheney to go out and say what she did in these past few weeks where she read from the criminal code," said Schmidt. "I think this committee wants to be taken seriously. They wanted this to appear like it's a bipartisan effort that is following the facts. Going out there and reading the criminal code is one of the more aggressive things that a congressional committee that has no powers can do."
Schmidt then explained why this statement went beyond mere headline-grabbing political theater.
"What we learned is there was work underneath those statements," he said. "It was no accident she was saying it. The investigation has former federal prosecutors working on this. They don't want to be embarrassed by sending some sort of frivolous letter to the Justice Department that would be ignored. They would want this to be a truly serious thing."
He explained that the committee was designed to give the most authoritative report on what happened Jan. 6. The evidence is what has led them to the possibilities of criminal referrals.
"Cheney let the cat out of the bag on this the last few weeks where she publicly read from the criminal code," Schmidt continued. "We went back and did some reporting to sort of look at the extent that the committee is looking at this issue, the two biggest issues, the ones that you laid out. Look, a criminal referral has no real legal weight, but what it would do is it would possibly change the pressure on Attorney General [Merrick] Garland. The attorney general has been able to largely skate without having to address the question of whether Donald Trump is being investigated and if he's not being investigated, why not."
Garland has managed to stay above the fray but with the Bannon indictment, it is clear that the DOJ is publicly involved in the probe now. As Figliuzzi explained, the two aren't operating in a vacuum and are likely coordinating their evidence.
See the interview below:
liz cheney www.youtube.com