Capitol Riot Committee Weighs Whether Trump Obstructed Congress

  • Capitol riot committee members are weighing whether Trump may have illegally obstructed Congress.
  • Co-chair Liz Cheney suggested Trump may be liable for “corruptly obstructing an official proceeding.”
  • Other members of the committee told Politico the panel was actively thinking on the same question.

Several members of the House committee investigating the Capitol riot are weighing up whether former President Donald Trump is potentially liable for criminal obstruction of Congress in connection to the January 6 attack, Politico reported.

Republican Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, co-chair of the House committee investigating the January 6 siege, this week floated the idea that Trump may be criminally culpable for the events at the Capitol.

Politico reported Wednesday that other members of the bipartisan committee are considering the same question.

“It’s clearly one of the things on the mind of some of the members of the committee,” Rep. Jamie Raskin, a member of the committee, told the outlet.

“I think that we’re trying to understand those 187 minutes that he didn’t say anything — what that means. And we’re trying to put some more light on that. I personally am not drawing any conclusions on where that takes us,” said panel member Rep. Pete Aguilar, a Democrat from California.

Cheney’s comments this week highlighted a federal statute that makes it illegal to obstruct an official proceeding. She said it would be key to the committee’s investigation into Trump’s activity during the riot.

It comes after the committee held Mark Meadows, Trump’s former chief of staff, in contempt as part of an effort to force him to cooperate with the probe.

“Mr. Meadows’  testimony will bear on a key question in front of this Committee: Did Donald Trump, through action or inaction, corruptly seek to obstruct or impede Congress’s official proceeding to count electoral votes?” — Cheney said.

“Mr. Meadows’ testimony will inform our legislative judgments on those issues.”

Capitol attack

Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as people try to storm the Capitol on January 6, 2021 in Washington.

Brent Stirton/Getty Images

Legal experts told Insider’s C. Ryan Barber that Cheney’s remarks appeared to be a clear reference to the same charge hundreds of people who stormed Congress have faced — that of “corruptly obstructing an official proceeding.”

Randall Eliason, a former federal prosecutor and now a professor at the George Washington University Law School, told Insider that Trump could be “equally liable” for the charge if he was found to have played a role in encouraging others to obstruct a congressional proceeding.

Eliason said that prosecutors would have to find evidence that Trump played an active role in the event, rather than simply having allowed it to happen.

While the January 6 committee cannot investigate on behalf of law enforcement, it could hand over any findings of potential criminality in Trump’s behavior to the Justice Department, Politico reported.