Rep. Adam Schiff (D. Calif.), boasted that the Jan. 6. committee would meet later in the day for criminal referrals of individuals who have been investigated by the committee.
With three questions, CBS anchor Margaret Brennan (moderator of CBS’ Face the Nation) took the wind out of Schiff’s sails.
What Did Brennan Ask?
Brennan pointed out that the committee targets, among other people, Rudy Giuliani and Mark Meadows. She then asked if sending criminal referrals to the Justice Department would lead to anything meaningful.
“Would that not be symbolic?” She asked.
Schiff, after defending the actions of the committee, stated that they are taking calculated decisions to make sure they don’t undermine their narrative about Jan. 6.
“Are you going to make some suggestion by referring to some this, others, there wasn’t sufficient evidence, while we don’t know, e.g., what evidence is in possession of the Justice Department?” He replied. “So, if referrals are made, we want to be careful about how we do it.”
He said, “But I believe we’re all certain that there is evidence for criminality here,” he continued. “And we want the Justice Department to be aware of that.”
Brennan was not convinced by the response that referrals starting Jan. 6 were meaningful.
“But don’t we already know this?” She spoke of Jan. 6’s Justice Department investigation.
This question suggests that the Jan. 6 report is meaningless as the nation’s highest investigative body can criminally prosecute anyone.
“So, what is the purpose of the committee that sends a referral? Other than to look political?” Brennan followed up.
Schiff was caught off guard by the questions.
Schiff claimed that “We have been far ahead of the Justice Department in most respects in conducting our investigation.”
He said, “I believe they have used the evidence that was presented in open hearings,” but he did not provide evidence. “I believe they will use the evidence we present in our Report to advance their investigations.”
What Do Other People Think?
However, Preet Bharara was a former U.S. attorney and he agreed with Brennan.
He explained that it was symbolic because, at the time when we started having the debate about a referral and it wasn’t obvious how far along the Justice Department had been,” he said on NBC News. “The Justice Department has since appointed a special counsel as we have mentioned and they have a lot more stuff that they have added to the matter.
Moreover, Bharara predicted that any criminal referral from the committee will not move the needle for the DOJ.
“I actually don’t think it does anything for the Justice Department,” he said. “I don’t think it prompts them to do anything more quickly or more aggressively.”