January 6th Select Committee's criminal referrals provide a 'strong argument' for DOJ: law professor

January 6th Select Committee's criminal referrals provide a 'strong argument' for DOJ: law professor
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In the wake of the Jan. 6 committee’s decision to recommend four criminal charges to the Department of Justice for Donald Trump’s role in the insurrection, The Conversation interviewed associate professor of constitutional law at Santa Clara University, Margaret M. Russell for a breakdown of what it all means.

Russell, former acting assistant dean of students at Stanford University, was questioned about what the charges mean for Trump; whether the charges have any legal standing; if the incoming majority Republican Congress has the power to change the recommendations; and whether the committee’s report heightens the chance of successful charges.

The bottom line, she mentioned, is that it is now confirmed that “Trump was the architect of most of this conspiracy.”

READ MORE: Republicans turn on Donald Trump amid criminal referrals: 'The entire nation knows who is responsible'

According to Russell, the act of recommending these charges essentially means the committee reached a “brink.” While the charges don’t solidify anything, they do make way for accountability. She highlighted J6 committee member Adam Schiff’s quote during the final hearing, “I think the day we start giving passes to presidents or former presidents or people of power or influence is the day we can say that this was the beginning of the end of our democracy.”

Whether the DOJ adheres to the recommendations provided will be based on “the validity of the House Committee’s findings,” said Russell. She noted that "the Justice Department’s determination to pursue the referrals would depend on the validity of the House committee’s findings,” and that the committee’s report simply serves as additional information to the investigative research that the DOJ is already doing.

When it comes to whether the new majority Republican Congress will be empowered to amend the committee’s recommendations in the new year, the answer is no. Russell said Attorney General Merrick Garland has mentioned that the DOJ cannot be “influenced by outside factors.”

And finally, to the question of whether the final report heightens Trump’s chance of prosecution – it’s possible. Russell said the report provides a “strong argument.” And although it does not ensure his prosecution, it does make a solid case for holding him accountable once and for all.

READ MORE:'They are going after me because they are really going after you!': Trump snaps before Jan 6 House report

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