The committees of the Senate provide crucial oversight and legislative services to the nation. Through investigations and hearings, they gather information on national and international problems to draft, consider, and recommend legislation to the full membership of the Senate. Committees are also responsible for evaluating presidential nominees for executive and judicial positions and for providing oversight of federal government operations.
The panel that is investigating the so-called weaponization of the federal government has voted to refer two Republican members to the Justice Department for criminal prosecution. The committee also recommended that the Justice Department open a criminal investigation into former President Trump in connection with the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, as well as into his efforts to disrupt the 2020 election count.
During the course of the 18-month-long probe into the insurrection at the Capitol, committee members conducted dozens of interviews and held blockbuster public hearings that examined the attack and Trump’s role in encouraging his supporters to storm the building. The hearings featured recorded testimony from witnesses, in-person testimony from Capitol police officers and never-before-seen video of the scene that day. The panel has also sifted through thousands of pages of documents, subpoenaed dozens of individuals and received hundreds of tips via the Jan. 6 tip line.
At the conclusion of its work, the committee released a final report Monday that highlighted some of its findings and made criminal referrals for several individuals. While congressional referrals are not the same as criminal conviction, they increase political pressure on the Justice Department to act and can unveil evidence that federal prosecutors have yet to access.
Committee members have alleged that the former president and his top advisers engaged in a multi-pronged effort to challenge the election results, including efforts to pressure the White House, Vice President Mike Pence’s staff, senior Justice Department officials and state and local elections officials. The committee has interviewed more than 20 witnesses, gathered more than 35,000 pages of documents and issued subpoenas to more than 50 people. It has already referred two Republicans to the Justice Department for contempt of Congress, Mark Meadows and Stephen K. Bannon, and has asked to depose two other recalcitrant GOP lawmakers — Scott Perry of Pennsylvania and Jim Jordan of Ohio — but they have signaled they will not cooperate with the panel.
The new chair of the committee, Democrat Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, has said she is considering sending the Justice Department a criminal referral against Trump and his former campaign chief, Sam Gitenstein, for obstruction of an official proceeding. According to CBS News, audio files recently obtained by the network reveal how investigators pressed Flynn about his efforts to overturn the election results and his attempts to pressure military and intelligence officials to assist him in that effort. He denied the allegations.