One of the longest-lingering questions surrounding the work of the January 6th select committee has been whether or not they’ll be able to conjure the audacity to go after Donald Trump directly.
It’s easy to see the experiment as nothing more than a Democratic buffer between Trump and another term in the Oval Office. They’ve widened the scope of this thing absurdly, and are surely gathering a great deal of small, scandalous material to meter out through the media as 2024 approaches.
But was there an actual purpose to the committee itself? Would they ever find it appropriate to challenge the former President head-on.
They’ve apparently been thinking long and hard about that of late.
The leaders of the House committee investigating the Capitol attack have grown divided over whether to make a criminal referral to the Justice Department of former President Donald J. Trump, even though they have concluded that they have enough evidence to do so, people involved in the discussions said.
The debate centers on whether making a referral — a largely symbolic act — would backfire by politically tainting the Justice Department’s expanding investigation into the Jan. 6 assault and what led up to it.
But concerns about “blowback” were very real.
Since last summer, a team of former federal prosecutors working for the committee has focused on documenting the attack and the preceding efforts by Mr. Trump and his allies to reverse his defeat in the 2020 election. The panel plans to issue a detailed report on its findings, but in recent months it has regularly signaled that it was also weighing a criminal referral that would pressure Attorney General Merrick B. Garland to open a criminal investigation into Mr. Trump.
But now, with the Justice Department appearing to ramp up a wide-ranging investigation, some Democrats are questioning whether there is any need to make a referral — and whether doing so would saddle a criminal case with further partisan baggage at a time when Mr. Trump is openly flirting with running again in 2024.
Trump is said to be waiting until the 2022 midterms are complete before making an official announcement about 2024, but it is widely believed that he will be running again.
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