Politics: Jan. 6 committee reveals it quietly formed a new subcommittee to send criminal referrals to DOJ

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Bennie Thompson, Liz Cheney © Provided by Salon Bennie Thompson, Liz Cheney

U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), Chair of the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol, joined by Vice Chairwoman Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), delivers opening remarks during a hearing on the January 6th investigation in the Cannon House Office Building on June 13, 2022 in Washington, DC. Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

The House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol has created a subcommittee to deal with "outstanding issues," including potential criminal referrals to the Department of Justice, the panel's chair confirmed Thursday.

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Chair Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., told journalists at the Capitol that he established the subcommittee, led by Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., "about a month ago."

The subcommittee's other members are Reps. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., and Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., the full panel's vice chair. Thompson noted that "they're all lawyers."

Raskin explained that "we're looking at potential referrals or criminal offenses and for civil offenses and for general lawlessness where it might not otherwise be obvious."

"We're looking at criminal and civil referrals for people who have broken the law and may have escaped scrutiny," added Raskin, who previously served as the lead manager for former President Donald Trump's historic second impeachment for inciting the Capitol attack with his "Big Lie" about the 2020 election.

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Thompson said that "we need to have a decision as to what we do with the members who did not recognize the subpoenas. It's cleaning up every unfinished piece of work for the committee. And that part of it just fit better in some subcommittee. Let them come back and report, and we'll make a decision."

According to Axios, "Thompson said the panel will also look at how to respond to the DOJ's request for deposition transcripts and other information."

Trump announced his campaign for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination on Tuesday, a day after he failed to comply with a subpoena from the select committee requiring him to appear for a deposition.

Thompson and Cheney said in a statement Monday that though the ex-president "initially suggested that he would testify before the committee, he has since filed a lawsuit asking the courts to protect him from giving testimony. His attorneys have made no attempt to negotiate an appearance of any sort, and his lawsuit parades out many of the same arguments that courts have rejected repeatedly over the last year."

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"The truth is that Donald Trump, like several of his closest allies, is hiding from the select committee's investigation and refusing to do what more than a thousand other witnesses have done," they added. "Donald Trump orchestrated a scheme to overturn a presidential election and block the transfer of power. He is obligated to provide answers to the American people. In the days ahead, the committee will evaluate next steps in the litigation and regarding the former president's noncompliance."

The committee members voted unanimously to subpoena Trump at the end of the panel's last public hearing in October—an event that led New York University law professor Ryan Goodman to conclude, "I think they were trying to hand the Justice Department all the evidence on a silver platter."

Goodman was among former federal prosecutors, defense attorneys, and other legal experts who on Thursday published a model prosecution memorandum laying out potential charges against Trump related to his handling of classified government documents since he left office.

Five congressional Republicans—Reps. Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Mo Brooks (Ala.), Jim Jordan (Ohio), Scott Perry (Penn.), and Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), likely the next speaker of the House after the GOP won a majority in last week's midterms—have also ignored subpoenas from the select committee.

With Republicans set to take control of the House in January, the committee is on a tight deadline to conclude its work. Thompson told reporters Thursday that the panel is planning to release its final report next month.

"Our goal is to get it completed soon so we can get it to the printer," he said. "We plan to have our product out sometime in December."

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