February 3, 2023

US lawmakers call for criminal charges against Trump

Donald Trump spoke to supporters near the White House on January 6, 2021 -- some would go on to ransack the US Capitol. — AFP/File

Donald Trump spoke to supporters near the White House on January 6, 2021 — some would go on to ransack the US Capitol. — AFP/File

Lawmakers investigating last year’s assault on the US Capitol recommended Monday that Donald Trump be charged with multiple offenses including insurrection — raising the stakes in a parallel criminal investigation that could put the former president in jail.

The House of Representatives select committee called for the indictment — as well as charges of obstruction of an official proceeding and conspiracy to defraud the United States — after an 18-month probe into the storming of Congress on January 6, 2021.

At least five people died after a mob whipped up by Trump’s false claims of a stolen election, and directed to march on Congress by the defeated president, ransacked the seat of US democracy in a thwarted bid to prevent the transfer of power to President Joe Biden.

The bipartisan committee voted unanimously to refer the charges to the Justice Department after opening remarks by vice-chair Liz Cheney in which she accused Trump of “a clear dereliction of duty” in failing to immediately attempt to stop the riot and called him “unfit for any office.”

“No man who would behave that way at that moment in time can ever serve in any position of authority in our nation again,” she said.

The referrals are seen as largely symbolic, as the panel has no control over charging decisions, which rest with the Justice Department.

Jack Smith, a largely independent special prosecutor appointed by Attorney General Merrick Garland, is leading his own investigation into Trump related to the 2020 election.

Major blow

Trump issued a statement claiming that the purpose of the investigation was to “keep me from running for president because they know I’ll win” and that any prosecution would be “a partisan attempt to sideline me.”

Trump’s approval ratings are underwater — at minus-20 percentage points in the RealClearPolitics average, compared with minus-eight percent for Biden.

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