(CNN) — Bennie Thompson, chairman of the House select committee investigating the January 6 attack on the US Capitol, told reporters Tuesday that the committee decided it is recommending criminal charges be filed to the Justice Department.
“We have decided to recommend criminal charges,” Thompson said. He said he would release those recommendations to the Justice Department, though he said he has not yet defined the universe of people who could be affected by those allegations.
When asked whether he believed any witnesses had hurt themselves, Thompson replied that “that’s part of the discussion.”
Thompson said the recommendations would be made in a separate document from the panel’s final report that would be sent to the Justice Department.
For its part, a spokesperson for the committee told CNN: “The committee has determined that the recommendations from outside entities should be considered as the final part of its work. The committee will decide on those details in the coming days.”
Another source told CNN that criminal charge recommendations would ultimately “focus on the main organizers and leaders of the attacks.”
A subcommittee was tasked with giving the commission options on how to present evidence of potential obstruction, potential perjury and potential witness tampering, as well as possible recommendations for criminal charges to the Justice Department, said multiple sources familiar with the commission’s work. Reported.
Democratic Reps. Jamie Raskin, Adam Schiff and Zoe Lofgren and Republican Reps. Liz Cheney, the panel’s vice-chairs, all trained attorneys, make up this subcommittee.
The decision to issue a criminal reference comes from the committee. Panel members broadly agreed that former President Donald Trump and some of his closest aides committed crimes by furthering a conspiracy to block the peaceful transfer of power, as uncovered in their hearings. However, they have long been divided about what to do about it, including whether or not to recommend criminal charges against Trump to the Justice Department.
Sources said that in the past, this question has led to vigorous, sometimes contentious debates among committee members. Those who previously said criminal recommendations were not necessary to close the panel’s investigation say the committee lacks prosecutorial powers and that the Justice Department does not require Congress to investigate crimes. Its own criminal investigation into the attack on the Capitol is ongoing.
Still, the idea of a recommendation for criminal charges against Trump, even if of a purely symbolic nature, is a shadow that has hung over the panel since it was first formed, and many members felt it It was a necessary step to complete his work. ,