Former President Donald Trump could be facing a double blow next week, with the House January 6 committee reportedly poised for criminal referrals and Democrats mulling the public release of his closely guarded tax records.
The January 6 committee is set to hold its final hearing on Monday, when it is widely expected to recommend that the Department of Justice bring criminal charges against a number of people in relation to the attack on the Capitol. Trump, who pushed false 2020 election fraud conspiracy theories to supporters just before the riot and is accused of inciting it, may be charged with multiple crimes.
As of Friday night, the panel was considering charging Trump with insurrection, obstructing an official proceeding and conspiracy to defraud the United States, according to an Associated Press report citing two people familiar with the deliberations.
Charging a former president with insurrection would be unprecedented. The charge could also potentially close the door on Trump’s political future, as the U.S. Constitution explicitly prohibits those engaged in insurrection from holding federal office.
Thomas Whalen, associate professor of social sciences at Boston University, told ABC affiliate WCVB that merely charging Trump with insurrection could force the Supreme Court to decide on scuttling his hopes of returning to the White House.
“Under the 14th Amendment, it says you don’t have to be convicted of a conspiracy against the United States—or treason, in this case, insurrection—it’s pretty vague,” Whalen told the outlet. “The fact that you were accused of it could be enough to prevent you from going for the highest office in the land.”
Meanwhile, the Democratic leadership of the House Ways and Means Committee is reportedly considering a vote to publicly share the former president’s tax returns. Trump bucked tradition by refusing to share the records before being elected in 2016 and fought a series of legal battles to keep the documents away from Democrats for years after.
The tax documents were finally handed over to the committee last month, following a Supreme Court decision. While the records are still broadly subject to confidentiality laws, federal tax code allows the committee discretion to disclose the records to the public as part of a report to the House.
Lawmakers on Friday were sent notices to expect a meeting of the panel on Tuesday, when the vote to make the records public could happen, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Democratic Representative Richard Neal, committee chairman, was thanked for calling the meeting in a tweet by fellow committee member and Democratic Representative Bill Pascrell, Jr., of New Jersey, who also serves as chairman of the oversight subcommittee.
“I’ve been chasing trump’s taxes for six years like Captain Ahab,” Pascrell tweeted. “Thanks to @RepRichardNeal for inviting us to discuss them next week. God willing this is the final chapter in this saga. Stay tuned.”
House Democrats hoping to issue criminal referrals or release Trump’s tax records will need to do so at breakneck speed. Republicans, who are far less likely to act against the former president, are set to take control of the chamber on January 3.
Newsweek has reached out to Trump’s office for comment.