Live updates on referrals, final report

Pence floated the idea of ​​testifying, but ultimately did not

In August, former Vice President Mike Pence — a uniquely positioned witness to the chaotic events of Jan. 6, one whose very life came to be in danger — said he would consider testifying before the House Jan. 6 committee.

“It would be unprecedented in history for a vice president to be summoned to testify on Capitol Hill,” he told a New Hampshire audience. “But I don’t want to prejudge.”

It didn’t happen. Writing for MaddowBlog, Steve Benen deconstructed Pence’s explanation for not testifying and concluded:

“This need not be complicated. The former vice president has a critically important perspective about one of the most important events in American history. He’s been willing to share his thoughts on the matter in public appearances, in media interviews, in published op-eds, and even in his book.

“But Pence is nonetheless refusing to speak to a bipartisan House panel that would benefit from his answers — and his explanation to justify such cowardice simply doesn’t make any sense.”

Read Steve’s full story below.

The Jan. 6 committee is lawyered up

Although any criminal referrals coming out of the committee won’t technically force the DOJ to bring charges, the committee has some legal firepower backing any allegations it makes.

The subcommittee tasked with referrals consists of Jamie Raskin, Adam Schiff, Zoe Lofgren and Liz Cheney.

Raskin, D-Md., is a Harvard Law grad who taught constitutional law for decades and wrote books on the law. Schiff, D-Calif., also graduated from Harvard law, and worked as a federal prosecutor in Los Angeles. Lofgren, D-Calif., taught and practiced immigration law, and Cheney, R-Wyo., practiced at a top firm. Schiff and Lofgren also served as impeachment managers during Trump’s first impeachment as Raskin did during Trump’s second impeachment, which means they’ve essentially acted as prosecutors against Trump before.

And although the committee isn’t acting as a prosecutor, we’ve seen in its public hearings that its members are intent on making their case to the American people. If the committee makes criminal referrals to the DOJ, then it will do so with the allegations having been vetted by lawyers who know well that it’s not enough to simply claim that someone did something bad.

Rather, if the committee wants to make a convincing legal case, then it must show that certain conduct satisfies the elements of whatever crimes have allegedly been committed. I’ll be watching to see how the committee makes its case, because if it meticulously lays out evidence that Trump or anyone else committed crimes beyond a reasonable doubt, it will be tough to ignore – even if that case isn’t being made by the branch of government that would have to bring it.

What criminal referrals against Trump would actually mean

Think the committee’s potential criminal referrals against Trump will automatically lead to the DOJ pursuing charges? Think again.

As Jordan Rubin wrote for MSNBC Daily this morning:

“It might seem as if there’s some special legal significance to official pronouncements from a high-profile congressional committee that’s investigating a grave matter. But the committee can’t force the Justice Department’s hand. At the end of the day, prosecutors have the discretion to bring charges, regardless of who does or doesn’t recommend them.”

Read Jordan’s full story below.

The criminal referrals being considered by the committee

The Jan. 6 committee is expected to vote today on several possible referrals, including potentially asking the Department of Justice to pursue at least three criminal charges against Trump, according to NBC News.

Those potential charges are: obstructing an official proceeding, conspiracy to defraud the government, and inciting or assisting an insurrection.

The committee has not made public which, if any, of these referrals it will vote in favor of advancing.