Ghosts of the past never go away. The 18-month diligent work of the bipartisan House Committee probing the 6 January Capitol Hill insurrection sees fruition. The select committee of nine lawmakers has now referred former president Donald Trump to the Justice Department for criminal prosecution for federal crimes. The referral does not compel the Justice Department to act.

Yet, the referral itself is a severe indictment. Plus, the committee’s belief Mr Trump committed the alleged crimes makes the referral weighty. The referral is unprecedented in American history as Mr Trump earns the notorious distinction of being the first ever former president with criminal referrals from the Justice Department.

Name-Calling the Select Committee

The Justice Department has named not Mr Trump alone, five of his allies as co-conspirators too. The 154-page executive summary has identified Mr Trump as the primary provocation behind the Capitol siege. If the charges are proved, they will end in prison sentences. Rattled, Mr Trump is screaming the committee is a ‘kangaroo court’. His cronies are joining him in claiming the referral is a ‘partisan political stunt’.

Undaunted and unprecedented, the Congress is asking an incumbent president’s department to take up criminal charges against a possible opponent in 2024. This should make Americans sit up to take cognisance of how Republicans work.

Slap-in-the-Face Suggestions

Alongside, the executive summary shows how profane was Mr Trump before instigating the siege and how reluctant was he in summoning the National Guard. The summary goes on to prove though White House officials knew Mr Trump’s claims were false, they found it difficult to tell him so. Their pleas for forging pre-emptive peace went unheeded. This evidence suggests Mr Trump’s wilful complicity in the insurrection.

Adopting a macro approach, the committee wants a revamp of the Electoral Count Act, the statute Mr Trump tried to exploit to stay on. More, the Congressional committee has suggested drastic changes to the Insurrection Act and suitable changes to the 14th Amendment’s ban on insurrectionists holding office. These suggestions make the referrals weighty.

Political and Financial Designs

Not just weighty, upsetting too. Right from the night of the presidential poll, leading up to the insurrection, Mr Trump had amplified his allegations of poll fraud. His primary motive was to see the presidential polls annulled and his secondary motive was to solicit contributions. The annotations establish this.

The referrals thus indicate Mr Trump’s designs were both political and financial. The committee has proof of Mr Trump’s backers donating nearly USD 100 mn to his Election Defence Fund and filling his coffers of greed.

Probe Ran Much Deeper

Not stopping there, the Congressional committee details how Mr Trump used his men to achieve his unholy ends. Mr Trump forced his vice president Mike Pence to deny electoral counting. Mr Trump showed no compunction in enlisting the Justice Department employees to make false statements to aid his designs. He appointed Jeff Clark, who was willing to air motivated info, as acting attorney general. This was despite Justice Department biggies telling him his actions were illegal.

The select committee’s referrals show the probe runs much deeper. They reveal Mr Trump went the whole hog to transmit false electoral certificates to the Congress and the National Archives. The inference is clear: Mr Trump’s machinations should rank among the most elaborate presidential schemes aimed at holding on to power in American history.

False Info Filed in Federal Courts

Worse, Mr Trump authored the fake-electors scheme by persuading 139 House Republicans to contest the electoral college on the day of the insidious insurrection. This has been laid out in detail in the annotations as firm evidences.

Again, the select committee’s referrals prove Mr Trump intentionally verified false info filed in federal courts. He had done so in December 2020 in his lawsuit in Fulton County. The panel says Mr Trump incited, on social media platforms, against Mr Pence, despite knowing insurrection was underway. Plus, Mr Trump refused to instruct his violent backers to disband and disperse. Instead, he chose to relish watching the Capitol Hill insurrection on his television.

Excessive Focus on Mr Trump

These evidences do not mean the Congressional committee’s investigation was 100 per cent flawless. First of all, to an extent, the committee’s obsessive focus on Mr Trump goes against the probe panel. This excessive focus has veered the committee away from probing why the intelligence and security agencies failed to foresee and prevent the insurrection.

The obsession with Mr Trump has been so intense, the Congressional select committee ignored details on the rise of extremism within America. Despite this limitation, the observations of the panel are objective and bias-free, thanks to faultless process of marshalling incontrovertible evidence. Full marks to the committee.

Worrisome Lacuna for the Morrow

There is a blessing here, however. This blessing is in the committee’s letters to the Justice Department. These are letters with details on all available evidences. These details may not hold legal weight as the Congress has no power to influence the actions of the Justice Department. Yet, they can exert pressure on the Attorney General to prosecute Mr Trump.

This lacuna will prove worrisome for Mr Trump in the coming days. Mr Trump has declared he is running for presidency again in 2024. Plus, the Republicans are gearing up to tear the Congressional committee once they gain control of the House. Kevin McCarthy, the Republican representative from California, wants to be the speaker of the House of Representatives next year. The partisan McCarthy is saying now he would then ‘probe the probe’, the select Congressional committee’s work. This is worrisome, an alarming red flag.

Robust Panoply of Proofs

What more, the few Republicans who dared to speak out against the insurrection have been edged out of the Grand Old Party. At the end of it all, things do not seem to change in the GOP, which is tragedy for American democracy. Nevertheless, the fact that the committee’s executive summary and referrals have erected a robust panoply of proofs against Mr Trump is incontrovertible.

Really speaking, the proof of the Capitol Hill insurrection is in the footage. The proof of the footage is in seeing. The seeing holds the truth Mr Trump can never deny. As a former president, Mr Trump needs to accept the proofs gracefully. Or, choose to end up in the pages of history as America’s most corrupt president.

Respect and Admission Important

High time Mr Trump respected the committee and its detailed referrals. These referrals are products of hard work – born out of expansive interviews with more than 1,000 witnesses, elaborate searches through more than one million documents, issuance of more than 100 subpoenas and 10 public hearings with millions of viewers.

Respecting the referrals are thus important for Mr Trump. He hopes to remain the Grand Old Party’s front-runner in 2024. He continues as a favourite of the Conservatives of the GOP. Worse, the House Ways and Means Committee will soon discuss six years of Mr Trump’s tax returns. The returns were obtained despite Mr Trump trying to block their release legally.

When these coveted tax documents are released for public consumption, they are sure to damage Mr Trump’s poll prospects further. So, the best way out for Mr Trump is to respect the referrals and prevent further damage to his poll prospects in 2024.

In Conclusion

Quite unfortunate, Republicans continue to downplay and distort the events of 6 January. Sure, the select committee has recommended Justice Department brings up four charges against Mr Trump. The road to his indictment and prosecution may be long and winding. But, there are enough messages in his political inbox to show his criminal past is fast catching up with him. Nemesis suffers no amnesia.