The US Capitol Storming Committee is accusing ex-President Donald Trump of a multi-part conspiracy to overturn the 2020 election results. In the more than 800-page final report, which was published in Washington on Thursday evening (local time), the committee therefore recommends preventing a new Trump presidency. The 76-year-old rejected the allegations on the Truth Social platform he co-founded and spoke again of a "witch hunt".
On January 6, 2021, Trump supporters stormed the seat of the US Congress, where the Republican's election defeat by Joe Biden was to be authenticated. A crowd incited by Trump violently entered the building, killing five people. In the past 18 months, the committee had investigated the incident and said it had heard more than 1,000 witnesses. The committee consisted of seven Democrats and two Republicans.
At its last public hearing on Monday, the panel recommended a non-binding prosecution of Trump on four counts. The eleven recommendations that have now been published state that Trump should be excluded from another presidency. According to the 14th Amendment, someone who swore an oath to the Constitution but then participated in an insurrection against the Constitution or supported enemies of the Constitution could be barred from holding public office in the future, the document said.
Report: Trump was mainly responsible
The Committee therefore calls on Congress to establish mechanisms to consider constitutionally barring those named in the final report from holding public office at the state or state level. Trump announced in mid-November that he wanted to run again as a Republican candidate in the 2024 presidential election.
The 76-year-old is described as primarily responsible for an unprecedented attack on US democracy: "The central cause of January 6 was one man, former President Donald Trump." Without him, January 6th would not have happened, it was said.
"The work of the Committee of Inquiry underscores that our democratic institutions are only as strong as the commitment of those charged with overseeing them," outgoing Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wrote in a foreword to the report. Its results should be a call to all Americans to "keep our democracy vigilant and give our vote only to those who dutifully defend our Constitution".
The report also mentions failures by the security services. However, security deficiencies were not the cause of the attack. "For the President of the United States to incite a mob to march on the Capitol and obstruct the work of Congress is not a scenario our intelligence and law enforcement agencies envisioned for this country," wrote Democratic committee chair Bennie Thompson.
Trump again dismissed the Truth Social report as biased and insisted on the false claim that there was voter fraud. The whole thing is a "witch hunt".
It is unclear whether the Justice Department will actually take criminal action against Trump and others involved, as recommended, because the decision is not legally binding. Nevertheless, the step is a clear signal, and prosecution of Trump has become more likely. Other proposals from the panel include strengthening security at key congressional events, overhauling Capitol Police oversight, and increasing penalties for threatening poll workers.
What is Trump accused of?
The allegations against the ex-president weigh heavily: the panel accuses him, among other things, of inciting the crowd to riot. Trump and others involved, such as his former legal adviser John Eastman, are also accused of obstructing a public hearing, conspiring against the US government and making false allegations to the state.
The Justice Department must now check whether it has enough evidence to take further steps against the Republican: Trump could ultimately be charged. The rare offense of rioting is the most serious: it is committed under US law when inciting or participating in insurrection against the authority of the state or the law. This is punishable by a fine or imprisonment for up to ten years or both. If Trump is convicted of sedition, he would no longer be allowed to hold political office.