Will 6 January report end Donald Trump’s 2024 run?

New findings dent former president’s chances but commentators see some support rising among his base

Pro-Trump supporters during the deadly Capitol Hill riot
The report found that the central cause of 6 January was Donald Trump
(Image credit: David Ramos/Getty Images)

Donald Trump’s chances of another tilt at the presidency have been called into question after he was accused of a “multi-part conspiracy” to overturn the lawful results of the 2020 White House election.

In an 845-page report, the 6 January committee claimed the then president failed to act to stop his supporters from attacking the Capitol.

The panel, comprising seven Democrats and two Republicans, studied “interviews from more than 1,000 witnesses, information obtained from millions of pages of documents and the contents of 10 public hearings”, said Fox News. It found that “the central cause of 6 January was one man, former president Donald Trump, who many others followed” and that “none of the events of 6 January would have happened without him”.

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The report suggests criminal charges against him and “also recommends barring Trump from public office in the future”, reported the BBC.

But could the findings actually boost his standing among some of the electorate?

What did the papers say?

The report “should, and must, prevent those who tried to overthrow our government from ever serving in it again”, wrote Noah Bookbinder, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics, for NBC News, and “that starts with Donald J. Trump”.

The conclusions “are damning, no doubt”, agreed James Matthews, US correspondent of Sky News, but their “significance” is “again the stuff of partisan political knockabout”.

Nevertheless, whether the Department of Justice acts on the committee’s suggestion of criminal charges or not, Trump is “damaged,” added Matthews, and the report is “not what he needs as he seeks traction towards a political comeback”.

The controversy “adds another new wrinkle” to Trump’s standing in the Republican Party, wrote Ronald Brownstein for CNN. Veteran conservative strategist Bill Kristol initially felt that “a backlash from rank-and-file GOP voters against any indictment might boost Trump” but now believes it will “only compound the sense he carries too much baggage to win another general election”, added Brownstein.

As for Trump himself, he has “defiantly slapped down” the committee, said the Daily Mail, and warned that the development will only make him stronger among his base.

“These folks don’t get it that when they come after me, people who love freedom rally around me,” he wrote on Monday evening on Truth Social. The former president added that “it strengthens me”.

What next?

The committee has sent its report to the Department of Justice, which can recommend criminal charges. The suggested charges include obstructing an official proceeding of Congress, conspiracy to defraud the federal government, making a false statement, and inciting, assisting, or aiding and comforting an insurrection.

However, noted Fox News, the committee’s “unprecedented criminal referral” holds no official legal weight, and a “final determination” in whether to pursue the charges will be up to Attorney General Merrick Garland and the justice department.

According to Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, “no individual who engages in insurrection or rebellion against the Constitution after having previously sworn an oath to support it can hold any federal or state office”, wrote Bookbinder.

However, he added, many states have their own procedure as to how this should work, either through the courts or through elections officials, “so they might not all enforce any constitutional disqualification for Trump”.

The committee has also begun to release hundreds of transcripts of its interviews, noted USA Today. One of them is with former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson, who “described in vivid detail Trump’s efforts to influence the election results and indifference toward the violence as it occurred”, it said. Public reaction to the details of the support will influence his prospects.

The report is not the only controversy whirling around Trump. The release of his tax returns indicate that he paid “little or no income tax between 2015 and 2020”, and in 2020 “paid nothing at all, claiming huge business losses”, said The Times. The revelation will be a “potential blow to Trump’s coveted image as a hugely successful businessman” and “certain to overshadow his bid to retake the White House in 2024”.

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Chas Newkey-Burden has been part of The Week Digital team for more than a decade and a journalist for 25 years, starting out on the irreverent football weekly 90 Minutes, before moving to lifestyle magazines Loaded and Attitude. He was a columnist for The Big Issue and landed a world exclusive with David Beckham that became the weekly magazine’s bestselling issue. He now writes regularly for The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Independent, Metro, FourFourTwo and the i new site. He is also the author of a number of non-fiction books.