Senate Democrats have not called on the Department of Justice to press charges against former President Donald Trump despite the fact that the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol attack has made criminal referrals against Trump. At the same time, the members of the committee are increasing their pressure on federal prosecutors to indict Trump despite the caution exhibited by the Senate Democrats.
Some Senate Democrats have also argued that there should be a lot of care taken when it comes to potentially prosecuting a former President and that there is a “high bar” for bringing charges against former chief executives.
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) noted that if there is evidence that clearly shows that Trump should be charged then the Justice Department should proceed but they should tread carefully. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) similarly noted that while there are political risks they should not avoid holding Trump accountable if there is evidence against him.
Some Democrats however have argued that any form of prosecution could eventually lead to the Justice Department facing backlash from the supporters of former President Trump. Kaine has agreed that that is a concern, but has also argued that it is not enough of a concern to allow “bad behavior to go unpunished.”
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) also joined this debate to say that the Justice Department’s Special Counsel Jack Smith is already heading two investigations against Trump and that undoubtedly the evidence the committee has supplied could play an important role in the investigation.
Ultimately the decision to press charges or not will be up to Attorney General Merrick Garland.