The House select committee tasked with investigating the Jan. 6 attacks on the U.S. Capitol outlined its recommendations for criminal referrals against former President Donald Trump and his allies during the panel’s last official public meeting on Monday. The highly anticipated conclusion to the 18-month investigation yielded several notable findings, accusing the former president of violating four federal laws in connection with his role in the attacks and a broader scheme to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. The referrals don’t have any legal application, are nonbinding and largely symbolic. Congress has no formal say in how the federal government prosecutes anyone—let alone a former president. The referrals essentially amount to letters sent to the Department of Justice outlining allegations of crimes as a result of the committee’s inquiry.
But Northeastern experts say the recommendations could speed up the Department of Justice’s ongoing prosecution of Trump—now in the hands of an independent special counsel. “My impression is that it could accelerate the process by providing additional evidence to [the] DOJ and, politically, offering a modicum of cover,” says Daniel Medwed, Northeastern University distinguished professor of law and criminal justice.