Lawmakers who served on the Jan. 6 select committee responded Tuesday to Donald Trump’s claims that he received a target letter from special counsel Jack Smith, expressing optimism that there would be accountability “at the very top” for the events that led to Congress being stormed in an attempt to subvert democracy.
“I heard from a lot of people across America who felt that the little guys would end up facing criminal justice and accountability, but the people at the top would not,” Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) told TPM and other reporters outside of the House chamber. “And, if this is where the evidence takes the prosecutors, then I’m glad that our justice system is working.”
Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), who was also on the select committee, said that seeing accountability around the former President’s actions will be a “relief.”
“I guess some relief that there will be accountability at the very top,” Lofgren said when asked for her reaction to Trump’s announcement during a Tuesday MSNBC interview. “We’ve seen a lot of the rioters themselves prosecuted, correctly, been convicted, sentenced to prison. But to date, the people who organized it, who schemed that up, have not been held accountable and I think it is important that happen.”
Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-CA), another committee member, said he would not be surprised if Trump was a target in Smith’s investigation and emphasized the committee’s work in bringing the former president’s actions to light.
“We said time and time again, our focus was to seek the truth. And to make sure there is accountability,” Aguilar said during the Tuesday press conference.
“We expect that the target letter and the work that the grand jury continues to do will meet that threshold of seeking the facts and holding people accountable, no matter where they are and no matter who they are,” he added.
Much of the committee’s work was shared with the Department of Justice for its own investigations into the events surrounding January 6, including materials not shared publicly at the committee’s conclusion late last year. The committee also made referrals to the DOJ, urging it to bring criminal charges against a number of key players in the insurrection, including Trump.
“The premise of the rule of law is that everyone is subject to it and no one is above it,” Raskin told reporters outside the House chamber Tuesday. “And so, I hope that when we get through this agonizing period in American history, we will be able to say that everyone was treated fairly under the rule of law and that no one escaped criminal accountability for offenses against the United States just because of an office they once held or a certain kind of privilege.”
The reaction to Trump’s claim that he was a target of Smith’s investigation was, predictably, wildly split on the Hill Tuesday. While Jan. 6 committee members continued their calls for accountability — not just for the rioters but for the former president who they say instigated the insurrection — MAGA House Republicans were kicking up an unsurprising but particularly aggressive storm on Capitol Hill.
“Why are they doing everything they can to prevent Trump from being on the ballot in 2024?” Rep. Troy Nehls (R-TX) asked during an interview with CNN. “I’ll tell you why. Because Donald Trump will win in 2024. And the left is just scared shitless.”
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who famously had a shouted phone conversation with Trump mid-insurrection, also stuck to a line he has advanced in response to Trump’s other 2023 legal woes: That the Department of Justice probe is just a way for Democrats to go after “those who politically disagree with them.”
“The American public is tired of this,” he said during a Tuesday press conference. “They wanna see equal justice and the idea that they utilize this to go after those who politically disagree with them is wrong.”
Meanwhile, the conspiracy theorizing congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) utilized her new favorite phrase, “little bitch,” to describe the special counsel.
“Jack Smith is a lousy attorney. His career is filled with mistrials, overturned cases, and judicial rebukes. He only targets Republicans because he’s a weak little bitch for the Democrats,” Greene tweeted in reaction to Trump receiving a target letter.