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Does Donald Trump Deserve to Go to Jail for January 6th?

Donald Trump. Image Credit: Creative Commons.
Donald Trump. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

The House’s January 6th committee has finally made formal criminal referrals against former President Donald Trump.

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The referrals include inciting insurrection, conspiracy to defraud the United States, and obstruction of an act of Congress.

The accusations were referred to the Department of Justice in the hopes that the DOJ would bring charges against the former president.

The House’s referrals are significant; they represent the first time in US history that Congress has recommended a former president be prosecuted.

The House’s referrals are the conclusion to an 18-month investigation into Trump’s actions on January 6th.

Trump under fire

The culmination of the House’s January 6th investigation is but one of many “problems” the former president is facing.

Trump’s company is currently being sued in New York for business fraud; Trump is being investigated for the mishandling of sensitive documents; Trump is being derided for hosting Kanye West and Nick Fuentes – two antisemitic Holocaust deniers – at Mar-a-Lago for Thanksgiving dinner. And now the House is wrapping up its January 6th investigation with formal criminal referrals.

The swirl of investigations, lawsuits, and scandals has helped to degrade Trump’s political stock – which appears lower than ever.

While political stock is difficult to quantify, one good place to start would be election results. Trump-endorsed candidates were shelled during the 2022 midterms.

Only one Trump-endorsee (JD Vance of Ohio) won in a battle ground state. Clearly, the voters who elected Trump in 2016 are slowly losing their taste for the bombast real estate mogul.

House accusations a historic first

Even by Trump’s standard, the House’s criminal referrals were significant. “The criminal referrals were a major escalation for a congressional investigation that is the most significant in a generation,” Luke Broadwater reported for the New York Times.

Now, the House’s referrals are not legally binding in any way. The referrals are just recommendations, really; the House saying, ‘we believe you should prosecute Trump.’ But the referrals do state formally that the House believes the former president committed crimes. Whether the House’s conclusion, that Trump committed crimes, was pre-baked or not, I couldn’t say.

The conclusion is an escalation, however. For much of the 18-months, the House rolled out witness after witness testifying what we all already knew – that Trump was a schmuck. But the testimony always seemed to fall short of indicating criminal behavior. Now the House has bridged that gap, formally stating they believe Trump has committed criminal acts.

The House issued a report with their criminal referral. “Evidence has led to an overriding and straightforward conclusion: the central cause of Jan. 6th was one man, former President Donald Trump, who many others followed,” the report states. “None of the events of Jan. 6th would have happened without [Trump].”

In addition to making criminal referrals against Trump, the House also recommended that the Electoral Count Act be reformed. The ECA is “the law that Mr. Trump and his allies tried to exploit on Jan. 6 in an attempt to cling to power.”

So, what happens next? Well, the January 6th committee is over. Finally. Now the DOJ gets to mull whether to charge Trump. If the DOJ did charge Trump, it would mark the first time in US history a president has ever been charged criminally.

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Harrison Kass is the Senior Editor at 19FortyFive.

Written By

Harrison Kass is a Senior Defense Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, he joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison has degrees from Lake Forest College, the University of Oregon School of Law, and New York University’s Graduate School of Arts & Sciences. He lives in Oregon and regularly listens to Dokken.