Jan. 6 Chair Thompson Says Criminal Charges Against Trump Not Ruled Out But Can’t Name Any


OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.

The chairman of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s handpicked Jan. 6 Committee has said that former President Donald Trump may be criminally charged at some point but he was at a loss on Sunday to list what crime(s) he may have committed.

Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union” with host Dana Bash to provide an update on the panel’s investigation into the Jan. 6 riots, though most members — judging by their past comments — appear to have already concluded that the former president is guilty of causing it.

During the Sunday segment, Bash asked the committee chair if Trump’s alleged “lack of action on Jan. 6 may actually warrant a criminal referral.”

“The only thing I can say is highly unusual for any in charge of anything to watch what’s going on and do nothing,” Thompson responded.

“Is it criminal,” Bash broke in.


Thompson replied: “We don’t know. We [are] in the process of trying to get all the information.”

He noted further: “But I can say if there’s anything that we come upon as a committee that we think would warrant a referral to the Department of Justice, we’ll do that. That’s our oath as members of Congress. So it’s not just that. It’s any of the other things we’re looking at, if there’s any confidence on the part of our committee that something criminal we believe has occurred, we’ll make the referral.”

Asked if the panel “learned from witness testimony more about what [Trump] was or wasn’t doing,” Thompson then responded:

Yes, we have. We have significant testimony that leads us to believe that the White House had been told to do something.

We want to verify all of it so that when we produce our report and when we have the hearings, the public will have an opportunity to see for themselves.


But Dana, to be honest with you, what occurred Jan. 6 played out in full view of the American public and the world and we want to make sure that that never ever happens again, so we need to get it right, get all the facts and circumstances and that’s what the committee’s body of work is about, doing it at this point.

“Did or has the former president obstructed an official proceeding of Congress?” Bash pressed, though Thompson completely whiffed on his reply.

“Well, what he’s doing is the typical Donald Trump modus operandi. He sues. He goes to court. He tries to delay. If he continues to be successful at delaying, obviously it inhibits the committee’s work. We’re doing a lot, but we have to have access to the records,” he said, sidestepping Bash’s inquiry while suggesting that Trump somehow is not entitled to mount a defense or, as a former president, has no right to try and protect the independence of the Executive Branch.


“President Biden has said executive privilege does not apply. So we think that we will have a lot of access to the records necessary for us to have complete access to the work. If we have access to the records, then former President Trump’s wishes on delaying will have no bearing on our work,” Thompson continued.

He also tried to claim that for 187 minutes, Trump did not ‘do anything’ while the Capitol was under siege.

“The harm that I see is the president of the United States seeing the Capitol of the United States under siege by people he sent to the Capitol and did nothing during that time. Something’s wrong with that. So we need to find out who was calling, who was texting, who was emailing during those 187 minutes to see whether or not that information will let us know if people were part of the problem,” Thompson added.

Vice-Chair Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming) has made a similar accusation. But for the record, mainstream media timelines from the day do not support these claims, as also noted here and here.

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