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The House committee investigating the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol holds its last public meeting in Washington on Dec. 19. The congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol on Monday concluded a year and a half of work, finding that former President Donald J. Trump and some of his associates violated federal laws, conspired against the United States and should be prosecuted.JASON ANDREW/The New York Times News Service

One by one, they uttered a single grave syllable, nine men and women whose “aye” set in motion a resounding repudiation of an American president, a stunning, unprecedented referral of four serious accusations to the Justice Department, and the epochal attachment of formal imputations of federal crimes to the contemporary reputation and historical legacy of the central figure in the politics of the United States for the past seven years.

In the nearly 2 ½ centuries of U.S. congressional history – through two world wars and countless domestic battles, a brutal Civil War and the passions of the civil-rights movement, four presidential impeachments and dozens of presidential initiatives, scores of taxing debates and thousands of debates on taxation – there seldom has been a more sombre moment than when the clerk of the committee examining the Jan. 6, 2021, riot on Capitol Hill called the roll and then reported, “On this vote there are nine ‘ayes’ and zero ‘nos.’ ”

The severity of these referrals – essentially vigorous recommendations that the Justice Department pursue these accusations against Donald Trump for his actions leading to, and culminating with, the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the Capitol – matched what Representative Jamie Raskin called the “magnitude of the crime against democracy.” They also reflected what the Maryland Democrat described as the “centrality of the offender,” Mr. Trump himself. All but two of the 17 specific findings of the committee’s report are focused on the former president.

“The central cause of Jan. 6th was one man, the former President Donald Trump, whom many others followed,” the report said. “None of the events of Jan. 6th would have happened without him.”

Trump dismissed pleas to halt U.S. Capitol riot, Jan. 6 committee hears

Seldom if ever – perhaps only in the 1950-1951 organized-crime hearings led by senator Estes Kefauver – has a congressional hearing been punctuated in a matter of a mere hour-and-a-quarter by a collection of words that included: conspire, assault, inhuman, dangerous, unlawful, corrupt, distort, murder-suicide pact, illegal scheme, unfounded legal theory, multi-part plan, coerce, incite, pressure campaign, bogus claims, angry phone call, berated, cursing, bending state and federal officials to his will, risk of violence, literally kill people, incendiary, criminal and civil offences, and, above all, mob.

These words comprised a thesaurus of the threat to an American political tradition that dated to the Federalist president John Adams’s peaceful transfer of power to the Democratic Republican president Thomas Jefferson in 1801.

“The mob wanted what president Trump wanted – to impede the peaceful transfer of power,” said Democratic Representative Elaine Luria of Virginia, who was defeated for re-election last month, adding: “President Trump lit the flame, he poured gasoline on the fire and he sat in the White House watching the fire burn.”

Much of the proceedings of this momentous day were foreshadowed over the weekend, when it became clear that the seven Democrats and two Republicans on the panel had concluded that the 45th president should be prosecuted for the crimes of insurrection, obstruction of an official proceeding, and conspiracy to defraud the United States government – all part of what Republican Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming described as “the first time one president refused his constitutional duty to transfer power to the next [president].”

But in concluding its 18 months of work, the committee added three elements Monday that had not been adumbrated earlier.

One was a fourth charge referred to the Justice Department, that Mr. Trump engaged in a conspiracy to make false statements. Another was the simple addition of the phrase “and others” to its report, suggesting that Mr. Trump and his lawyer, John Eastman, specifically named in the proceedings, were not the only people in the Trump circle, and beyond, who should be considered vulnerable to federal prosecution for their involvement in what Representative Zoe Lofgren of California described as “president Trump’s unlawful plan to reverse the outcome of the 2020 election.”

The final additional element has both legal and political significance. The committee referred to the House Ethics Committee the refusal of four Republican House members – Kevin McCarthy of California, Jim Jordan of Ohio, Scott Perry of Pennsylvania and Andy Biggs of Arizona – for their failure to comply with its subpoenas.

Their avoidance – especially that of Mr. McCarthy, a possible speaker of the new Republican-led House that will convene next in two weeks – will undermine the force of subpoenas that the newly empowered GOP lawmakers have made clear they are eager to issue, perhaps to members of the Jan. 6 committee, maybe to President Joe Biden, surely to his son, Hunter Biden.

All this came in a week that demonstrated how central Mr. Trump and the Jan. 6 rebellion are to this fraught American moment.

The historic referral of recommendations to the Justice Department came the very day that jury selection began in the trial of five members of the Proud Boys, major figures in the Capitol siege, on charges of seditious conspiracy. On Tuesday, the House Ways and Means Committee will debate whether to release six years of Mr. Trump’s tax returns that he has repeatedly sought to keep from the public eye.

But these other proceedings were overshadowed by the conclusion the committee drew from its 1,000 interviews and from the contents of more than a million documents.

“Evidence we’ve gathered points to further action … to help assure accountability under law,” said Democratic Representative Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, the chair of the committee, who in five words issued an efficient summary of his panel’s work: “This can never happen again.”