On Sunday, multiple members of the January 6th Committee proclaimed that they had enough evidence to support a criminal indictment of Donald Trump. That sent the media into a frenzy as another “the walls are closing in” moment unfolded. Their dream of seeing the former president perp-walked was at hand.
That was…until Monday evening arrived. In a sudden turn of events, Rep. Bennie Thompson, who chairs the January 6th committee, is now saying that the committee will not make any criminal referrals at all, not just of Trump, but of anyone.
Here’s the news via two separate sources.
NEW – @BennieGThompson says the Jan. 6 select cmte will NOT make any criminal referral to the Justice Department on Trump or anyone else
— John Bresnahan (@bresreports) June 13, 2022
Here’s the money quote per CNN.
Pressed again on whether the committee would ever make a formal referral to the Justice Department, the Mississippi Democrat said, “No, that’s not our job. Our job is to look at the facts and circumstances around January 6, what caused it and make recommendations after that.”
This has been the story of the January 6th committee since its ill-advised, illegitimate inception. They over-promise and underdeliver — every single time. We’ve been hearing about bombshell evidence proving Trump engaged in a criminal conspiracy to cause the Capitol breach for over a year now. Where is it? When are they going to connect those dots they keep insisting connect? With two hearings down, there’s no sign any such evidence is coming.
Now, Thompson basically says “Well, yeah, we’ve got the goods, but we won’t be making any criminal referrals.” Does that pass the smell test for anyone? I think what it shows is that you can expect more of the same in the hearings they have left. More emotional speeches, more interviewing irrelevant people like Chris Stirewalt, and absolutely no proof of what they actually allege.
And before some on the left try to cope by saying it’s not Congress’ job to make criminal referrals, the committee absolutely has the power to do so. Further, its own members have stated they have such power. How do I know? Because after Thompson’s comments, Rep. Liz Cheney immediately fired back, saying there has been no decision on any criminal referral regarding Trump.
Rep. Liz Cheney, who serves as vice chair of the committee, released a statement contradicting the chairman’s comments. “The January 6th Select Committee has not issued a conclusion regarding potential criminal referrals. We will announce a decision on that at an appropriate time,” the Wyoming Republican tweeted.
The comment marked a rare public break between the two leaders of the committee.
Rep. Adam Schiff and Rep. Elaine Luria also tried to walk back Thompson’s proclamation, with the latter directly undermining the chairman.
“You know, I haven’t seen the chairman’s statements,” Schiff told CNN’s Anderson Cooper. “We haven’t had a discussion about that, so I don’t know that the committee has reached a position on whether we make a referral or what the referrals might be. I thought we were deferring that decision until we concluded our investigation. At least that’s my understanding.”
Rep. Elaine Luria, a Virginia Democrat, went a step further, tweeting, “Our committee has yet to vote on whether we will recommend criminal referrals to the Department of Justice. If criminal activity occurred, it is our responsibility to report that activity to the DOJ.”
While there appears to be no real evidence linking Trump to any coordination of the January 6th riot, the committee tasked to come up with that connection is imploding. That they all felt the need to go public with their contradictions is not a good sign about where things sit internally. Grab your popcorn, because this could get good, especially if the chairman sticks to his guns.