Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., speaks as the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol holds its first public hearing to reveal the findings of a year-long investigation, on Capitol Hill, Thursday, June 9, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson of Bolton, who chaired a special committee that investigated the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol and the attempt to overturn the 2020 election results, said the criminal indictment Tuesday of former President Donald Trump is an important step in preserving America’s democracy.

The charges announced Tuesday afternoon against Trump “are consistent with those the Select Committee referred to the Special Counsel last year, and successful prosecutions will not only bring accountability but also help prevent something like Jan. 6th from ever happening again,” Thompson, a Democrat, said.

“Jan. 6th was a test of American democracy, but the fair trials of those responsible will further demonstrate this nation’s commitment to the rule of law and hold accountable those who attempted to undermine it.”

Thompson, the second Black person to represent Mississippi in the U.S. House since the 1800s, was selected by then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi to head the special bipartisan committee formed to investigate the Jan. 6 riots and the efforts to overturn the election results where Joe Biden defeated Trump. Many national pundits credited the investigatory work done by the Thompson committee with leading to the charges filed Tuesday by Special Counsel Jack Smith against the former president.

Trump was indicted on four separate charges related to Jan. 6 and the attempt to overthrow the election.,

Those charges are, according to NBC news:

*Conspiracy to defraud the United States.

* Conspiracy to impede the Jan. 6 congressional proceedings.

* A conspiracy against the right to vote and to have that vote counted.

* Obstruction of, and attempt to obstruct and impede, the certification of the electoral vote.

In a statement, Thompson said, when chairing the committee, he “was moved by the courageous testimony of four brave police officers who came to the defense of the Capitol and American democracy on Jan. 6, 2021. Those heroes asked us for something in that hearing: Hold those responsible for that deadly attack accountable.”

“And, at the end of its investigation, the bipartisan Jan. 6th Select Committee turned over to the Justice Department its evidence of an extensive plot by the ex-president to overturn the presidential election on Jan. 6th and prevent the peaceful transfer of power,” Thompson said.

Thompson, who worked in the 1960s to help register people to vote, told CNN before his special committee began its work in June 2022, ““I want, as an African American, to be able to say to the world that I helped stabilize our government when insurrectionists tried to take over.”

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Bobby Harrison, Mississippi Today’s senior capitol reporter, covers politics, government and the Mississippi State Legislature. He also writes a weekly news analysis which is co-published in newspapers statewide. A native of Laurel, Bobby joined our team June 2018 after working for the North Mississippi Daily Journal in Tupelo since 1984. He is president of the Mississippi Capitol Press Corps Association and works with the Mississippi State University Stennis Institute to organize press luncheons. Bobby has a bachelor's in American Studies from the University of Southern Mississippi and has received multiple awards from the Mississippi Press Association, including the Bill Minor Best Investigative/In-depth Reporting and Best Commentary Column.