On video: the House of Representatives committee recommended charging Donald Trump with insurrection, obstruction of proceedings (Reuters)
The special committee of the House of Representatives yesterday (Monday) recommended to the US Department of Justice in an unprecedented step to file criminal charges against the former president, Donald Trump.
The recommendation is for four charges: obstruction of official proceedings, conspiracy to publish false statements, conspiracy to defraud the United States and sedition.
No other president in American history has witnessed a criminal recommendation by Congress.
Trump was quick to respond to the decision and wrote on his social network, Trut Social, "These people don't understand that when I am persecuted, people who love freedom gather around me. It makes me stronger. What doesn't kill me, forges me."
The title of the post was "Statement on the recommendation of the January 6 Committee".
Trump - who recently announced his candidacy for the presidency in the 2024 elections - added: "People understand that the Democratic Bureau of Investigation, DBI, is preventing me from running for president because they know I will win and that the whole business of suing me is like impeachment - a partisan attempt to exclude me and the Republican Party."
The last hearing of the House of Representatives committee, yesterday (photo: official website, pool)
Democratic congressman James Raskin, a member of the committee, pointed out that if the former president is indeed indicted for sedition and he is found guilty - this immediately triggers "an automatic basis for a blanket ban on ever holding public office, at the federal and state levels." .
He said the panel also recommended criminal charges against Trump's lawyer, John Eastman.
"The dangerous attack on the constitutional democracy of the United States that happened on January 6, 2021, contains hundreds of criminal offenses. Our justice system is not one where the common soldiers go to prison and the architects remain free."
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The recommendations of the investigation committee are only symbolic.
A sitting president of the United States has never been charged with a crime.
Three presidents have been impeached, but not convicted of a crime: Andrew Johnson in 1868, Bill Clinton in 1998, and Donald Trump in 2019 and 2020.
Impeachment is a kind of equivalent of an indictment, but does not require a criminal charge, but rather involves non-criminal misconduct while in the White House.
Impeachment is not determined in the criminal justice system but in Congress when the attitude towards it is political.
Tomorrow (Wednesday) the panel is expected to publish the full final report regarding the attack in which five people were killed. This will be the last word of the committee after 18 months of investigation.
The US Constitution does not allow the impeachment of a president.
The problem is that the authority to criminally investigate and convict him is an executive authority.
The constitution grants all executive powers to the president directly, and any authority to investigate or sue emanates from the president - and may be revoked at will.
Also, the judiciary cannot order the president to obey the court, just as the president cannot order the Supreme Court to obey the White House.
Even if a president decides to go to court and allow himself to be convicted - without the pardon that only he can give - he will still remain the president, with all the powers that come with that.
This is because only Congress can impeach him.
Regarding the question of whether it is possible to sue a former president for certain conduct during his term of office, the answer is yes.
However, many federal crimes are statute-barred after five years, meaning that indicting Trump is time-limited.
Hearing of the House of Representatives Committee (Photo: Reuters)
The Attorney General, Merrick Greenland, last month appointed a prosecutor named Jack Smith to determine whether to accuse Trump of insurrection and attempting to disrupt an orderly transfer of power.
Smith is also in charge of the investigation into the secret documents that Trump took with him when he left the White House.
His decisions in these cases will have huge implications for the former president's future.
The most serious charge the panel recommended against Trump is also the most difficult to prove: sedition.
The Ministry of Justice won the trial of the leader of the "Oath Keepers" militia Stuart Rhodes on charges of conspiracy to incite, and five members of the far-right "Proud Boys" militia are expected to be tried for incitement.
However, the ministry has not charged anyone with the insurgency in more than 900 criminal cases.
In February, a federal judge set the stage for a possible sedition case against Trump when he ruled that a series of civil lawsuits related to the attack on the Capitol against Trump could proceed.
In the ruling, the judge, Amit Mehta, said that Trump did not make innocent use of his right to freedom of speech, when he called on the crowd to march to Capitol Hill and "fight with all our might."
The judge also found that there was a reasonable basis that Trump aided those in the crowd who attacked police officers on Capitol Hill, in part because he waited so long to issue a statement calling on the protesters to disperse.
One way that Trump could be proven to have been involved in the insurgency is through evidence that he "aided" others who took part in the rebellion against the government.
What will happen if Trump is sued?
In the event that the Justice Department indicts Trump, the entire process will be slowed down because it could take months for the defense lawyers to go through all the evidence.
A trial, if held, will be held a year or two later.
But Trump is entitled to a speedy trial, a trial lasting 70 days or less from the time of indictment, most defendants waive that right to prolong the process.
Most judges would probably prefer a trial to be held long before the end of President Joe Biden's term, to reduce the impact of a criminal trial on the 2024 election campaign.
Trump's sentencing could happen just months after a conviction, and the former president may remain out of prison while his appeal is pending.
But a conviction or even imprisonment does not prevent Trump from running for president.
The constitution sets requirements for presidential candidates - and a criminal background is not one of them.
Some wonder if a conviction without a verdict would allow Trump, should he win, to re-enter the White House.
This extraordinary situation will certainly raise constitutional issues that the Supreme Court will have to rule on.
US House of Representatives