Members of the House committee investigating Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn his 2020 election defeat called on Sunday for the US justice department to consider a criminal indictment for the former president and warned that “the danger is still out there”.
Their comments on the eve of the second of the panel’s televised hearings into the January 6 2021 insurrection and deadly Capitol attack will add further pressure on attorney general Merrick Garland, who has angered some Democrats by so far taking no action despite growing evidence of Trump’s culpability.
“There are certain actions, parts of these different lines of effort to overturn the election, that I don’t see evidence the justice department is investigating,” committee member Adam Schiff, Democratic congressman for California, told ABC’s This Week.
“I would like to see the justice department investigate any credible allegation of criminal activity on the part of Donald Trump.”
Schiff, who led Democrats’ prosecution of Trump at his first impeachment trial in 2020, said Thursday’s primetime televised hearing, which attracted 20 million viewers, provided “just a sample” of the evidence the panel has gathered.
During Monday’s daytime hearing, he said, the committee will “tell the story of how Trump knowingly propagated his big lie” that his election defeat by Joe Biden was stolen from him by fraud, and how that lie was used to spread disinformation by Trump and his allies.
“Once the evidence is accumulated by the justice department, it needs to make a decision about whether it can prove to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt the president’s guilt or anyone else’s,” Schiff said.
“But they need to be investigated if there’s credible evidence, which I think there is.”
Maryland Democratic congressman Jamie Raskin, another panel member, appeared on CNN’s State of the Union to assert his confidence that Garland “knows what’s at stake”.
“One of the conventions that was crushed during the Trump administration was respect by politicians for the independence of the law enforcement function,” Raskin said.
“Attorney general Garland is my constituent, and I don’t browbeat my constituents [but] he knows, his staff knows, US attorneys know, what’s at stake here.
“They know the importance of it, but I think they are rightfully paying close attention to precedent in history as well as the facts of this case.”
Raskin said Thursday’s televised hearing had “pierced the sound barrier” but that “Americans need to pay further attention because the danger is still out there”.
It emerged that “multiple” Republican congress members had sought pardons from Trump, with Pennsylvania representative Scott Perry, the only one identified so far, denying he had done so.
Perry was included in a meeting of congressional Republicans before the 6 January attack that strategized how to prevent lawmakers certifying Biden’s victory on that day.
“The seeking of pardons is a powerful demonstration of the consciousness of guilt, or at least the consciousness that you may be in trouble,” Raskin said.
“Everything we’re doing is documented by evidence, unlike the big lie, which is based on nonsense. Everything that we’re doing is based on facts.”