Read a PDF of our statement here.

Today, the House Select Committee on January 6th referred four criminal charges to the United States Department of Justice against former president Donald J. Trump and referred several Congressional members to the bipartisan ethics Committee for review.

Janai S. Nelson, President and Director-Counsel of the Legal Defense Fund, issued the following statement addressing these developments and commending the committee for its work:

“Today’s criminal referrals are a historic outcome of the comprehensive and exacting congressional investigation into the deadly January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol and on our democracy more broadly. After 18 months of meticulous investigatory work, the House Select Committee has taken an extraordinary and significant step to recommend holding accountable public officials who broke their oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution and to the American people in the weeks leading up to the Jan. 6th insurrection. Committee Co-Chairs Rep. Bennie Thompson and Rep. Liz Cheney are to be especially commended for their nonpartisan leadership of the committee and their commitment to protecting democracy, by clearly and objectively outlining the evidence related to what occurred on and leading up to that fateful day and the various actors who were involved.

Now the way forward is clear: there must be accountability for everyone involved in the historic attempt to overthrow our democracy and sabotage our elections. With the conclusion of the work of the January 6th Committee and related public hearings, it is imperative that the Justice Department act upon the criminal referrals and the larger findings in the Committee’s final report with the urgency and gravitas they demand. DOJ is now armed with an evidence-based road map to ensure that all criminal actors in connection with the attack are held to account and the rule of law is upheld. Further, Congress and the American people should build upon the work of the Committee to strengthen our commitment to free and fair elections, the inclusion of all voices in our electorate, and protecting our multi-racial, multi-ethnic democracy from white supremacist and other subversive forces.

Prior to the start of public hearings this summer, the Legal Defense Fund submitted testimony to the Committee contextualizing how the January 6th insurrection is part of broader cyclical patterns of anti-Black backlash in American politics. To help disrupt this harmful cycle of retrogression, it is not only necessary for the DOJ to pursue justice in connection with January 6th, but Congress must pass national legislation to fully protect the American people from voter suppression, intimidation, discrimination, and election sabotage.


Founded in 1940, the Legal Defense Fund (LDF) is the nation’s first civil rights law organization. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the Legal Defense Fund or LDF. Please note that LDF has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights.