The Jan. 6 committee is likely to begin issuing criminal referrals related to Donald Trump’s failed coup on Jan. 6, 2021, and several Pennsylvania Republicans could find themselves referred for prosecution.
Representative Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), the chair of the House Jan. 6 Committee, signaled on Tuesday that the committee is leaning heavily toward issuing criminal referrals related to former President Donald Trump’s failed coup on Jan. 6, 2021 and the activities leading up to the events of that day.
It has been reported previously that there was a split among committee members related to criminal referrals, when in June Thompson told reporters that referring subjects of their investigation for prosecution was “not our job.” That statement was met with immediate pushback from other committee members.
While Rep. Thompson has signaled that criminal referrals are now likely, he also stated that a formal decision has not yet been made and that the subjects of the referrals and the charges have not yet been determined.
In short, criminal referrals are coming, but we do not yet know who will be referred for prosecution or what charges will be recommended.
While the targets of the criminal referrals are not yet known, there are a number of Pennsylvania Republicans that could find themselves involved in what comes next. Among them are longtime Dauphin County GOP Congressman Scott Perry and former candidate for governor Doug Mastriano. Both men played significant roles in the plot to overturn the 2020 election, and both seem possible targets for criminal referrals.
Mastriano, a state senator from Franklin County, attended the Jan. 6 riot and even spent campaign funds to bus other rioters to the event. He also played a role in the fake electors scheme, even being called the ‘point person’ for the Pennsylvania portion of the multi-state operation.
Congressman Perry, on the other hand, was involved in a very different part of the plot, one that involved replacing several key members of the Department of Justice with Trump lackeys who would agree to use the power of the Justice Department to cast doubt on the election results. The goal was to justify Republican attempts to decertify election results in the hopes that doing so would allow Republican state legislatures in states won by Joe Biden to set aside the results and instead choose alternate slates of electors for Donald Trump.
The plot to steal the 2020 election had many fronts, and several appear to meet the definition of criminal enterprises, but we do not yet know how many of these crimes the committee will include in its referrals.
That said, criminal referrals from the committee are not binding, and in no way limit the scope of the Special Counsel’s investigation, or any other investigation. They are simply recommendations; however, they should serve as an indication of the kinds of charges and the volume of charges we should expect in the coming weeks and months.