Trump should be barred from holding office again, January 6 panel says

The House select committee investigating the January 6 attack on the US Capitol has recommended in its final report that Donald Trump should be barred from holding office again.

The former US president is again running for the White House and is seen as the leading contender for the Republican party’s 2024 nomination. However, his campaign has been a damp squib so far and his political fortunes battered by the poor performance of Trump-backed candidates in the November midterms and the emergence of rival figures within the party, notably Florida governor Ron DeSantis.

Across 814 pages of the report, published late Thursday night, the Democrat-led committee laid out findings that placed blame squarely on “one man” for the violent events that engulfed the legislative seat of the US government for several hours in 2020.

“The central cause of Jan 6 was one man, former President Donald Trump, whom many others followed,” said the report, released overnight, in a punchy two-sentence summary. “None of the events of Jan 6 would have happened without him.”

In extensive detail, the committee accused the former president of “a multipart plan to overturn the 2020 presidential election”. Trump’s conduct on that day, it says, warrants implementation of a constitutional ban on the New York real estate developer from holding elected office again.

Prior to Jan 6, it continued, Trump and his inner circle engaged in “at least 200 apparent acts of public or private outreach, pressure, or condemnation”, between Election Day and January 6.

On Monday, the committee voted to refer Trump to the Department of Justice on at least four criminal charges, including insurrection and obstruction of an official proceeding of Congress.

Among the evidence presented in the panel’s final report was that there had been 68 meetings, attempted or connected phone calls, or text messages aimed at pressuring state or local officials toward the goal of overturning the election’s results.

“President Trump’s decision to declare victory falsely on election night and, unlawfully, to call for the vote counting to stop, was not a spontaneous decision. It was premeditated,” the report states.

The committee also described how Trump, his campaign and Republican National Committee used claims that the election was stolen to collect more than $250m in political fundraising.

In a bombshell video deposition released earlier this week, former White House communications director Hope Hicks said that Trump knew the claims were false and had dismissed lawyer Sidney Powell’s theories of foreign interference in the election as “crazy”.

The committee, which conducted 1,000 interviews over nearly 18 months, cost taxpayers $3m to September this year, employed around 57 people, and spent hundreds of thousands more on outside consultants and services.

After the findings were published, Trump hit back on his own social media platform with a typically mis-spelt message. “The highly partisan Unselect Committee Report purposely fails to mention the failure of Pelosi to heed my recommendation for troops to be used in D.C., show the ‘Peacefully and Patrioticly’ words I used, or study the reason for the protest, Election Fraud”, Trump posted on Truth Social.

Trump concluded his appraisal of the committee’s work with a question: “WITCH HUNT?”

The January 6 committee’s report offers a clear analysis of the events leading up to that day and a path toward using the 14th amendment against insurrection to bar Trump and his allies from future office.

Our country has come too far to allow a defeated President to turn himself into a successful tyrant by upending our democratic institutions, fomenting violence, and, as I saw it, opening the door to those in our country whose hatred and bigotry threaten equality and justice for all Americans,” said Mississippi Democratic congressman and committee chair Bennie Thompson in the foreword.

The findings, published days before Republicans take control of the lower legislative house, automatically dissolving the panel, offers the department of justice a comparative text to its own investigation.

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