The January 6th Committee says it’s holding one more public hearing on Monday, December 20th. Now Politico says that the committee will use this public hearing to vote on referring Donald Trump to the DOJ for criminal prosecution on at least three criminal charges, including insurrection. Why does this matter?
In spite of some occasional competing leaks about direction and scope, this committee has always publicly put on a united front. Every publicly visible vote has been unanimous. Every public hearing has seen the committee members with a unified goal.
As far as Monday’s hearing, a subcommittee consisting of a few key members is recommending that Trump be referred on these charges. If the overall committee were planning to dispute or shoot down these recommendations, it would be happening in private. So the fact that the committee is holding this vote during a televised hearing is pretty much a dead giveaway that it will vote to refer Trump to the DOJ.
As I’ve been saying all year, this kind of criminal referral is symbolic. The DOJ and Special Counsel Jack Smith already have a federal grand jury targeting Donald Trump for January 6th related crimes. This referral is not going to increase the odds of the DOJ indicting Trump. Nor would the lack of a referral decrease the odds of the DOJ indicting Trump. This referral is going to be about optics and influencing public opinion.
That said, the January 6th Committee must have concluded that there’s enough evidence to convince a trial jury to convict Trump beyond a reasonable doubt, or else the committee wouldn’t risk making itself look foolish by making such a recommendation to begin with.
The bottom line: if you believe as I do that the DOJ will end up criminally indicting Donald Trump on a number of charges, then the January 6th Committee’s (apparent) vote next week to refer Trump for prosecution is yet another sign that we are indeed heading there.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report