According to a new report from The Hill “The Jan. 6 Select Committee has signaled it intends to explore potential criminal wrongdoing by former President Trump
, marking a significant escalation for the investigation that could put pressure on the Biden administration.”
“The panel has said it could refer Trump to the Justice Department for prosecution if it finds damning evidence, in what would be seen as an open invitation to Attorney General Merrick Garland to be more aggressive toward the former president than he has been in his tenure thus far,” the report continues.
Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), the select committee’s vice chair, gave the first indication at a hearing earlier this month that the panel is examining whether Trump committed a crime.
Quoting the statutory text for a felony obstruction offense, Cheney said that a key question for the select committee investigation is, “Did Donald Trump, through action or inaction, corruptly seek to obstruct or impede Congress’ official proceedings to count electoral votes?”
Obstruction of an official proceeding is a charge that carries a maximum possible sentence of 20 years in prison. Federal prosecutors have wielded it against hundreds of rioters accused of participating in the attack on the Capitol.
But bringing the same charge against a president who never set foot in the building would require far more complex legal and political calculations.
Daniel Hemel, a University of Chicago law professor said “The challenge is … this undefined territory of the circumstances under which an executive official crosses the line between exercising executive power to actual obstruction of justice.”