Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) on Sunday defended the purpose of potential criminal referrals by the House investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection, noting the panel has “been far out ahead” of the Justice Department’s probe.
Schiff, a committee member, said the evidence collected and presented in public hearings, as well as new information to be featured in a final report, will be of use to DOJ’s ongoing criminal investigation.
Schiff rejected the idea that committee referrals would look political, because those reportedly under consideration — former President Donald Trump, his former personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, attorney John Eastman, onetime White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and former DOJ official Jeffrey Clark — are already under Justice Department scrutiny.
“I think it makes an important statement, not a political one, but a statement about the evidence of an attack on the institutions of our democracy and the peaceful transfer of power, that Congress examining an attack on itself is willing to report criminality,” Schiff told CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
A subcommittee of lawyers on the Jan. 6 panel on Sunday presented recommendations to the entire committee on who should be referred to the Justice Department and the suggested charges.
Committee Chair Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) has previously said the panel would refer at least one person. A public vote is set for Dec. 21 — the date the final report is to be published.
“I think we’re all certainly in agreement that there is evidence of criminality here and we want to make sure that the Justice Department is aware of that,” Schiff told CBS’ Margaret Brennan.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), another member of the committee, told ABC’s “This Week” that criminal referrals underscore the conclusion the panel members have reached about Jan. 6.
“The criminal referrals themselves aren’t necessarily something that is going to wake DOJ up to something they didn’t know before, but I do think it will be an important, symbolic thing that the committee can do,” he said.