OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
Republican Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney is furious with the January 6 Select Committee’s decision to not make a criminal referral to the Department of Justice for former President Donald Trump.
The chairman of the committee, Rep. Bennie Thompson, was asked by a reporter if the committee would be sending criminal referrals for the former president or others and he responded by saying the committee does not have that authority.
“No, you know, we’re going to tell the facts. If the Department of Justice looks at it and assumes that there’s something that needs further review, I’m sure they’ll do it,” he said.
He was asked again and explained “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 was not what Rep. Cheney and other members of the committee wanted to hear.
“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 representative said in a tweet, but she was corrected.
But a spokesperson for the committee spoke to CNN and said, “the Select Committee has no authority to prosecute individuals, but is rather tasked with developing the facts surrounding the January 6th riot at the Capitol. Right now, the committee is focused on presenting our findings to the American people in our hearings and in our report. Our investigation is ongoing and we will continue to gather all relevant information as we present facts, offer recommendations and, if warranted, make criminal referrals.”
Democrat California Rep. Adam Schiff spoke to CNN on Monday and appeared to be stunned by the comments.
“You know, I haven’t seen the chairman’s statements,” he said. “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.”
“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,” Rep. Elaine Luria said.
But Rep. Thompson said there will not be a formal criminal referral and said the Department of Justice has to decide for itself.
“It’s a public document. Anybody can have access to it. And if they want, after reviewing it, to come back and ask to talk to some of the staff or the members who helped produce the report, I’m sure they will,” he said.
Attorney General Merrick Garland said that he is watching the hearings.
“I am watching, and I will be watching all the hearings, although I may not be able to watch all of it live,” he said. “But I will be sure that I am watching all of it. And I can assure you that the January 6 prosecutors are watching all of the hearings as well.”
But Rep. Cheney may have bigger issues as it appears she will not be back in the House of Representatives in 2023.
“Just 28 percent of Wyoming Republican voters say they would cast a ballot to reelect Cheney in the 2022 midterms, according to a new poll from Fabrizio, Lee & Associates survey and consulting firm,” the Daily Mail reported Friday.
“The survey of 400 likely Republican primary voters in the deep red state shows that 56 percent would vote for Trump-backed candidate Harriet Hageman over the incumbent if the election were held today,” the report added.
That’s a 28-point deficit to Hageman, a deficit that is likely too steep a hill for Cheney’s reelection bid to successfully climb, according to most political observers.
Adding to Cheney’s troubles, even fewer Wyoming Republicans had a favorable view of her — only 26 percent, with 73 percent viewing her unfavorably.