Pennsylvania congressman pushes criminal investigation of Trump for Capitol attack

An intruder holds a Trump flag inside the U.S. Capitol Building near the Senate Chamber on Jan. 6, 2021. The mob disrupted a joint session of Congress called to ratify President-elect Joe Biden's electoral College win over President Donald Trump. Credit: Win McNamee/Getty Images

WASHINGTON—A Pennsylvania Democrat filed a resolution Thursday directing the Justice Department to open a criminal investigation against President Donald Trump once he leaves office, on charges that Trump incited a mob to storm the U.S. Capitol.

Rep. Brendan Boyle said the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol stemmed from a rally that Trump held just blocks from where lawmakers were set to certify the Electoral College votes to officially declare Joe Biden the winner of the presidential election.

“Donald Trump must be investigated for his role in inciting and perpetuating this crime,” Boyle said in a statement. “Provided there is sufficient evidence, as I strongly believe there is, Donald Trump must be indicted, arrested, and put on trial. And if convicted, he should go to prison.”

Because the Department of Justice is prohibited from bringing criminal charges to a sitting president, the resolution directs the agency to open the investigation once Trump leaves office Jan. 20. The House impeached Trump Wednesday  for his role in inciting the mob, which the House said “gravely endangered” U.S. security. The Senate trial is expected to begin next week.

During the president’s rally on Jan. 6, he spouted baseless claims that the election was stolen from him and egged on his supporters to go to the Capitol, saying to a crowd of thousands, “if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country.”

The violence left five dead and more than 50 law enforcement officers injured. Lawmakers, staff and journalists had to barricade themselves in offices for hours until law enforcement could secure the building.

Boyle’s press release said he and his staff were directed to a secure location with other lawmakers, but once he and his staff were inside that room, they noticed several Republican lawmakers refused to wear masks.

A video obtained by Punchbowl News shows Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.), Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), Scott Perry (R-Pa.) and Michael Cloud (R-Texas), turning down disposable masks that Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.) offered.

The secure room where those lawmakers were kept was right across from Boyle’s personal office. Boyle said he made the decision to take his staff out of the secure room, wanting to prioritize their health, and instead they barricaded themselves in his office.

They pushed a couch, chairs and desks up against the doors and spent the next several hours in the dark until they were told it was safe to come out.

Several Democrats who were in the room where Republicans refused to wear masks have recently tested positive for COVID-19. Those lawmakers include Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, (D-N.J.) and Rep. Pramila Jayapal, (D-Wash.).