Congressional committee investigating January 6, 2021, attack on Capitol will hold its second public hearing this month on Monday that focuses on ex-president Donald Trump's effort to spread his lies about a stolen 2020 election.

January 2021 assault on Capitol left more than 100 police officers wounded, as the crowd of Trump supporters, some armed with pipes, bats and bear spray, charged into the building.
January 2021 assault on Capitol left more than 100 police officers wounded, as the crowd of Trump supporters, some armed with pipes, bats and bear spray, charged into the building. (Reuters Archive)

Members of the House committee investigating the Capitol riot have said they have uncovered enough evidence for the Justice Department to consider an unprecedented criminal indictment against former president Donald Trump for seeking to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

The committee announced on Sunday that Trump's campaign manager, Bill Stepien, is among the witnesses scheduled to testify at a hearing Monday that focuses on Trump's effort to spread his lies about a stolen election.

"I would like to see the Justice Department investigate any credible allegation of criminal activity on the part of Donald Trump," said Representative Adam Schiff, a committee member who also leads the House Intelligence Committee. 

"There are certain actions, parts of these different lines of effort to overturn the election that I don’t see evidence the Justice Department is investigating."

Misinformation campaign 

The committee held its first public hearing last week, with members laying out their case against Trump to show how the defeated president relentlessly pushed his false claims of a rigged election despite multiple advisers telling him otherwise and how he intensified an extraordinary scheme to overturn Joe Biden’s victory.

Additional evidence is set to be released in hearings this week that will demonstrate how Trump and some of his advisers engaged in a “massive effort” to spread misinformation, pressured the Justice Department to embrace his false claims, and urged then-vice president Mike Pence to reject state electors and block the vote certification on January 6, 2021.

Stepien, a longtime Trump adviser, has kept a relatively low profile compared with many others in the former president's orbit. He previously served as White House political director and also national field director for Trump’s 2016 campaign. Before aligning himself with Trump, Stepien had worked in New Jersey for former governor Chris Christie, a longtime Trump friend turned critic

Monday's witness list includes BJay Pak, the top federal prosecutor in Atlanta who left his position on Jan 4, 2021, a day after an audio recording was made public in which Trump called him a "never-Trumper," and Chris Stirewalt, the former political editor for Fox News.

The committee members on Sunday also reiterated they would present clear evidence that "multiple" GOP lawmakers, including Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., had sought a pardon from Trump, which would protect him from prosecution. 

Political election season

Lawmakers indicated that perhaps their most important audience member over the course of the hearings may be Attorney General Merrick Garland, who must decide whether his department can and should prosecute Trump. They left no doubt as to their own view whether the evidence is sufficient to proceed.

"Once the evidence is accumulated by the Justice Department, it needs to make a decision about whether it can prove to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt the president’s guilt or anyone else’s," Schiff said. 

"But they need to be investigated if there’s credible evidence, which I think there is."

Garland has not specified how he might proceed, which would be unprecedented and may be complicated in a political election season in which Trump has openly flirted with the idea of running for president again.

No president or ex-president has ever been indicted.

The assault on the Capitol left more than 100 police officers wounded, many beaten and bloodied, as the crowd of Trump supporters, some armed with pipes, bats and bear spray, charged into the building. 

At least nine people who were there died during or after the rioting, including a woman who was shot and killed by police.

Source: AP