Jan. 6 Panel Appears Divided Over Criminal Referrals

Members quickly push back on Chairman Bennie Thompson's statement
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 14, 2022 11:48 AM CDT
Jan. 6 Panel Appears Divided Over Criminal Referrals
Rep. Liz Cheney, left, and Rep. Bennie Thompson, vice chair and chair, respectively, of the House committee investigating the election aftermath.   (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, Pool)

The leader of the House panel conducting the Jan. 6 hearings seemed to surprise members of his own committee with a statement about former President Trump's fate on Monday. Democrat Bennie Thompson told reporters that the panel won't make any criminal referrals to the Justice Department, reports NBC News. "We don't have authority," he said. "We're going to tell the facts," he added, per CNN. "If the Department of Justice looks at it, and [assumes] that there's something that needs further review, I'm sure they'll do it." Afterward, GOP Vice Chair Liz Cheney said not so fast.

The committee "has not issued a conclusion regarding potential criminal referrals," she tweeted. "We will announce a decision on that at an appropriate time." Another member, Democrat Elaine Luria, also took to Twitter to point out that the panel "has yet to vote on whether we will recommend criminal referrals to the Department of Justice." And yet another, Democrat Adam Schiff, expressed a similar we-haven't-voted-yet sentiment to CNN, which calls all this "a rare public break" between Thompson and Cheney.

Meanwhile, the panel abruptly announced that its hearing scheduled for Wednesday morning has been postponed, reports the Hill. No official reason was given, though Democratic member Zoe Lofgren suggested Tuesday that it was a workload problem. "There's no big deal, but I'll tell you ... putting together the video and exhibits is an exhausting exercise for our very small video staff," she said on MSNBC's Morning Joe. "We're trying to—we were going to have 1-2-3 in one week and it's just ... too much to put it all together. So we're trying to give them a little room to do their technical work, is mainly it." (Read more Jan. 6 hearings stories.)

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