January 6 Committee Refers Former President Trump to the Department of Justice

December 19, 2022
A photo of the United States Capitol

The Final Meeting

The January 6 Committee holds their final public meeting and recommends that the Justice Department pursue criminal charges against former President Trump and others.
Here's What Happened:


  • Despite holding "hearings" and swearing in witnesses under oath, Congress isn't a court of law. However, it has the power of oversight (investigations).

  • Congress can make recommendations (referrals) to the Dept. of Justice (DOJ), which may or may not investigate these claims or charge the person(s) in question.

  • The following reflect four criminal referrals the committee is sending to the DOJ regarding Pres. Trump; the first two also apply to some of his associates (incl. his former lawyer John Eastman).

Obstruction of an Official Proceeding

"The whole purpose and obvious effect of Trump's scheme were to obstruct, influence and impede this official proceeding, the central moment for the lawful transfer of power in the United States."

Representative Jamie Raskin (D-MD), a member of the January 6 Committee, who read the criminal referrals at Monday's hearing. The committee has repeatedly alleged that Pres. Trump wanted to stop the certification of the 2020 presidential election.

Conspiracy to Defraud the United States

"This statute makes it a crime to conspire to defraud the United States. In other words, to make an agreement to impair, obstruct, or defeat the lawful functions of the United States government by deceitful or dishonest means …"

Rep. Raskin alleging Pres. Trump conspired with others to disrupt the 2020 election certification. Raskin also noted that the committee trusts the DOJ "will be able to form a far more complete picture through its own investigation."

Conspiracy to Make a False Statement

"The evidence clearly suggests that President Trump conspired with others to submit slates of fake electors to Congress and the National Archives."

Rep. Raskin suggesting that Pres. Trump conspired with others to "knowingly and willfully make materially false statements to the federal government." The committee says that Pres. Trump "relied on the existence of those fake electors as a basis for asserting that the Vice President could reject or delay certification of the Biden electors."

"Incite," "Assist" or "Aid and Comfort" an Insurrection

"The Committee believes that more than sufficient evidence exists for a criminal referral of former President Trump for assisting or aiding and comforting those at the Capitol who engaged in a violent attack on the United States."

Rep. Raskin. Throughout their hearings, the committee repeatedly suggested Pres. Trump had premeditated knowledge, and perhaps planning, of the January 6 riot at the Capitol.

"These folks don’t get it that when they come after me, people who love freedom rally around me. It strengthens me. What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger. Americans know that I pushed for 20,000 troops to prevent violence on Jan 6, and that I went on television and told everyone to go home …"

Pres. Trump in his response to the recommendations of the January 6 committee. We've put the rest of the former president's comments on our source page for your reference.

While The Associated Press describes the committee's referrals as "mostly symbolic," the committee's investigation took time and (taxpayer) money. Based on public financial reports, in April 2022 The Washington Post reported that by the end of December, the committee was on track to spend more than $9M.

The final report on the committee's findings and referrals will be released on Wednesday. In November, the Justice Department appointed a special counsel to investigate claims against former Pres. Trump, who continues to deny the allegations made against him.


Jan. 6 committee approves criminal referrals targeting Trump, urging DOJ to prosecute (CBS News)

Where the Jan. 6 committee is spending its money (The Washington Post)

Jan 6. panel urges Trump prosecution with criminal referral (The Associated Press)

DOJ announces special counsel for Trump-related Mar-a-Lago and January 6 criminal investigations (CNN)

It's Unclear Whether the Justice Dept. Will Take Up the Jan. 6 Panel's Charges (The New York Times)

The Hill summarizes Pres. Trump's responses on social media platform Truth Social (we'd link to these directly but you'll need a login) – Here's the next best thing.

by Jenna Lee,