Criminal charges push for Donald Trump is unprecedented in the United States

There may be “no rebound” for Donald Trump after the committee investigating the deadly January 6 attack on the United States Capitol recommended federal prosecutors pursue criminal charges against the former president, an American politics expert says.

The recommendation is the first time in history that Congress has referred a former president for criminal prosecution.

The decision sends a strong message: Justice matters, and it’s time for Mr Trump to be held accountable for his actions.

Bruce Wolpe, a senior fellow at the United States Studies Centre and former adviser to the Obama administration in Congress, told The New Daily: “Nothing like [the referral] has ever happened to a president or a former president before.”

The referral may signal there is “no rebound” for the former president, he said.

“We already saw fading of support for Trump, not necessarily among Republican voters, but among independent voters in the midterm elections,” he said.

“The Republicans failed to take the Senate. They won the House very narrowly … that was because Trump picked extremist candidates and voters rejected them.

“You can never count Trump out. But we’re in new territory when a former president is under criminal investigation.”

The charges

On Monday, the committee unanimously agreed to refer Mr Trump for four criminal charges:

  • Obstruction of an official proceeding of Congress
  • Conspiracy to defraud the United States
  • Inciting or assisting an insurrection
  • Conspiracy to make a false statement.

The committee made the referral after more than 1000 witness interviews and the collection of hundreds of thousands of documents in an 18-month investigation.

A criminal referral is a recommendation from the committee to the Justice Department. It is not binding and does not compel the Justice Department to act.

The referral will, however, add public pressure to the Justice Department to act.

It comes at a time when a special counsel is overseeing two other federal probes of Mr Trump’s attempt to overturn his 2020 election defeat and the removal of classified files from the White House.

“What the criminal referral by the House Committee means is they’re validating the grand jury investigation under the Attorney-General into whether the former president broke the law and should be indicted,” Mr Wolpe said.

Bruce Wolpe is a Senior Fellow (non-resident) at the United States Studies Centre.

“The committee is saying ‘we believe you’re on sound territory’.”

Representative Jamie Raskin, a Democratic select committee member, said as he announced the charges: “An insurrection is a rebellion against the authority of the United States. It is a grave federal offence, anchored in the Constitution itself.”

Mr Wolpe thinks the Justice Department will decide whether to bring an indictment against Mr Trump before August.

“They don’t want this to look like 2016 when the head of the FBI on two occasions made statements about allegations against Hillary Clinton and how she handled classified information.

“A lot of people feel that killed her chances for election.

“I’m absolutely certain the Attorney-General wants to avoid any implication that he’s acting politically, or with political malice.

“No one is above the law and the Attorney-General is intent that Trump not be above the law.”

Trump hits back

Mr Trump attacked the committee before its final meeting on Monday, labelling it as “highly partisan”.

The New York Times reported that Mr Trump said “it’s a kangaroo court,” on a podcast called The Dan Bongino Show.

“The people aren’t going to stand for it,” Mr Trump posted later on Truth Social, his social media network.

“These folks don’t get it that when they come after me, people who love freedom rally around me. It strengthens me,” he said, adding that he “told everyone to go home” on January 6.

Mr Wolpe wasn’t surprised by Mr Trump’s response, and says the former president is powerless to stop an indictment.

“He’s going lash out, he will hate this. Trump has only one playbook, and that is to deny, defile and defame. And that’s what he will do,” Mr Wolpe said.

“He cannot stop the finding of the Attorney-General. So he has to figure out what’s the best way to possibly affect the outcome; it would be to testify himself before the grand jury, but I doubt if that will happen.”

Mr Trump has already launched a campaign to seek the Republican nomination to run for the White House in 2024.

The referral to the Department of Justice cuts Mr Trumps re-election campaign “two ways”, Mr Wolpe said.

“I think among his base, people will say this is his enemies – the radical left, the deep state, the Democrats doing their witch hunt – nothing’s new.

“On the other hand, it’s a pretty serious matter. And I think a lot of voters are tired of relitigating the past – they want to turn the page for the future.

“We don’t know where it’s going to go. Either scenario is possible.”

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