The House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, insurrection recommends barring former President Donald Trump from holding office again.
The recommendation is among the conclusions of the panel’s final report, a comprehensive overview of the bipartisan panel’s findings on how Trump and his allies sought to overturn the 2020 presidential election, released late Thursday evening.
The 845-page report – based on 1,000-plus interviews, documents collected including emails, texts, phone records and a year and a half of investigation – includes allegations that Trump “oversaw” the legally dubious effort to put forward fake slates of electors in seven states he lost, arguing that the evidence shows he actively worked to “transmit false Electoral College ballots to Congress and the National Archives” despite concerns among his lawyers that doing so could be unlawful.
In a symbolic move Monday, the committee in its last public meeting referred Trump to the Justice Department on at least four criminal charges, while saying in its executive summary it had evidence of possible charges of conspiring to injure or impede an officer and seditious conspiracy.
“That evidence has led to an overriding and straight forward conclusion: the central cause of January 6th was one man, former President Donald Trump, whom many others followed. None of the events of January 6th would have happened without him,” the report states.
Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat, said on Monday that he has “every confidence that the work of this committee will help provide a road map to justice, and that the agencies and institutions responsible for ensuring justice under the law will use the information we’ve provided to aid in their work.”
Special counsel Jack Smith is leading the Justice Department’s investigations related to Trump, including both his post-election actions and classified documents found at his Mar-a-Lago resort earlier this year.
Here’s what’s in the report:
In an effort to overturn election results in key states, Trump and his inner circle targeted election officials in “at least 200 apparent acts of public or private outreach, pressure, or condemnation,” between Election Day and the January 6 attack, according to the report.
There were 68 meetings, attempted or connected phone calls, or text messages, aimed at state or local officials, as well as 125 social media posts by Trump or senior aides targeting state officials.
Trump “spearheaded outreach aimed at numerous officials in States he lost but that had GOP-led legislatures, including in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Arizona,” the report says. (He lost all of those states.)
For example, during a January 2, 2021, call between Trump and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, the then-president went through a “litany of false election-fraud claims” and then asked Raffensperger to deliver him a second term by “finding” just enough votes to ensure victory, according to the report.
Trump infamously said, “I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have because we won the state.”
The January 6 committee identifies a little known pro-Trump attorney as being the original architect of the legally dubious fake electors plan: Kenneth Chesebro.
Conservative attorney John Eastman authored a now-infamous memo detailing step-for-step how then-Vice President Mike Pence could theoretically overturn the 2020 election results. But the committee points to Chesebro, a known associate of Eastman, as being responsible for creating the fake electors plot.
“The fake elector plan emerged from a series of legal memoranda written by an outside legal advisor to the Trump Campaign: Kenneth Chesebro,” the report says.
It was previously known that Chesebro was involved in the fake electors scheme, but the committee’s conclusion about his leadership role is new.
The effort to put forward fake slates of pro-Trump electors is under scrutiny by federal and state prosecutors investigating efforts by Trump and his allies to overturn Joe Biden’s election victory in 2020.
The committee wrote that Chesebro sent a memo to then-Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani after a request from Trump campaign official Boris Epshteyn about a “‘President of the Senate’ strategy,” which wrongly asserted that the vice president could pick which presidential electors to count during the joint session of Congress on January 6.
“President Trump in the days immediately before January 6th, Chesebro – an attorney based in Boston and New York recruited to assist the Trump Campaign as a volunteer legal advisor – was central to the creation of the plan,” the report says. “Memos by Chesebro on November 18th, December 9th, and December 13th, as discussed below, laid the plan’s foundation.”
CNN has previously asked Chesebro to comment about these topics and he has not responded.
Eastman reached out to speak to Trump on December 23, 2020, the same day that he drafted his initial memo on the Pence theory.
Eastman emailed Trump’s assistant, Molly Michael, at 1:32 p.m., according to the committee. “Is the President available for a very quick call today at some point? Just want to update him on our overall strategic thinking.”
The committee wrote that Eastman received a call from the White House switchboard, and the call lasted 23 minutes, according to Eastman’s phone records. Eastman’s two-page memo discussed various ways to ensure “President Trump is re-elected,” even though by then, he had been projected to lose the election, according to the committee.
These new details show how the committee used emails and phone records it obtained after it successfully fought in court to obtain the documents.
The committee obtained Eastman’s emails after a judge sided with the House in a lawsuit where the committee accused both Eastman and Trump of a criminal conspiracy to obstruct Congress and to defraud the government.
Trump latched onto Eastman’s theories that incorrectly claimed Pence could overturn the election, and launched a pressure campaign against Pence in the days leading up to January 6. Eastman was present at a January 4, 2021, meeting between Trump and Pence in the Oval Office where Trump tried to convince Pence he could intervene when Congress certified the Electoral College vote on January 6.
Barring Trump from further public office is one of 11 recommendations the committee is making as a result of its investigation.
The panel zeroes in on the section of the Constitution that states an individual who has taken an oath to support the US Constitution but has “engaged in an insurrection” or given “aid or comfort to the enemies of the Constitution” can be disqualified from office. The former president and others have been referred by the committee to the Department of Justice for assisting or aiding an insurrection.
It calls on congressional committees of jurisdiction to create a “formal mechanism” for evaluating whether those individuals violate that section of the 14th Amendment should be barred from future federal or state office.
In addition to criminal referrals, the select committee is calling for lawyers involved in the efforts to overturn the election to be held accountable.
“Those courts and bar disciplinary bodies responsible for overseeing the legal profession in the states and the District of Columbia should continue to evaluate the conduct of attorneys described in this Report” the panel writes, adding that there are specific attorneys the report identifies as having “conflicts of interests” for the Department of Justice to evaluate.
The report even calls on Congress to amend statutes and consider the severity of penalties that deter individuals from efforts to obstruct, influence or impede the Joint Session of Congress that certifies election results. It calls for statutes of federal penalties for certain types of threats against election workers to be strengthened.
Although the panel was successful in getting more than 1,000 witnesses to testify as part of its investigation, it still had difficulty gaining cooperation from everyone it wanted to speak to. Its report recommends congressional committees of jurisdiction “develop legislation” to create “a cause of action” for the House to enforce its subpoenas in federal…
Read More: Jan. 6 committee releases final report