WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 06: U.S. Capitol police officers point their guns at a door that was vandalized in the House Chamber during a joint session of Congress on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Congress held a joint session today to ratify President-elect Joe Biden’s 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump. A group of Republican senators said they would reject the Electoral College votes of several states unless Congress appointed a commission to audit the election results. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON — A Pennsylvania Democrat filed a resolution Thursday directing the Justice Department to open a criminal investigation against President Donald Trump once he leaves office, on charges that Trump incited a mob to storm the U.S. Capitol.
U.S. Rep. Brendan Boyle, D-2nd District, said the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol stemmed from a rally that Trump held just blocks from where lawmakers were set to certify the Electoral College votes to officially declare Joe Biden the winner of the presidential election.
“Donald Trump must be investigated for his role in inciting and perpetuating this crime,” Boyle said in a statement. “Provided there is sufficient evidence, as I strongly believe there is, Donald Trump must be indicted, arrested, and put on trial. And if convicted, he should go to prison.”
Because the Department of Justice is prohibited from bringing criminal charges to a sitting president, the resolution directs the agency to open the investigation once Trump leaves office Jan. 20. The House impeached Trump Wednesday for his role in inciting the mob, which the House said “gravely endangered” U.S. security. The Senate trial is expected to begin next week.
During the president’s rally on Jan. 6, he spouted baseless claims that the election was stolen from him and egged on his supporters to go to the Capitol, saying to a crowd of thousands, “if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country.”
The violence left five dead and more than 50 law enforcement officers injured. Lawmakers, staff and journalists had to barricade themselves in offices for hours until law enforcement could secure the building.
Speaking to journalists Thursday, Boyle’s fellow Pennsylvania Democrat, U.S. Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, D-5th District, said she believed “we’re going to see a number of investigations,” stemming from the riot.
Scanlon, who sits on the House Judiciary Committee, added that she would “not be surprised if we ended up with some kind of 9/11 Commission,” referring to the panel that investigated the intelligence failures that led to the fatal attack two decades ago. “We have a lot of work to do on how to address white nationalism; the use of arms in this event. There’s a lot of information to collect.”
Boyle’s press release said he and his staff were directed to a secure location with other lawmakers, but once he and his staff were inside that room, they noticed several Republican lawmakers refused to wear masks.
A video obtained by Punchbowl News shows Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., Markwayne Mullin, R-Okla., Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., Scott Perry R-10th District, and Michael Cloud, R-Texas, R-Texas, turning down disposable masks that Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, D-Del., offered.
The secure room where those lawmakers were kept was right across from Boyle’s personal office. Boyle said he made the decision to take his staff out of the secure room, wanting to prioritize their health, and instead they barricaded themselves in his office.
They pushed a couch, chairs and desks up against the doors and spent the next several hours in the dark until they were told it was safe to come out.
Several Democrats who were in the room where Republicans refused to wear masks have recently tested positive for COVID-19. Those lawmakers include Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-N.J., and Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash.
Capital-Star Editor John L. Micek contributed to this story.
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