Jan. 6 committee prepares to go public as findings mount

Members of the House of Representatives gather in the chamber in June to vote on the creation of a select committee to investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection. The committee is preparing to go public with its findings and is planning televised hearings and several reports.

WASHINGTON — They’ve interviewed more than 300 witnesses, collected tens of thousands of documents and traveled around the country to talk to election officials who were pressured by former President Donald Trump.

Now, after six months of intense work, the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection is preparing to go public.

In the coming months, members of the panel will start to reveal their findings against the backdrop of the former president and his allies’ persistent efforts to whitewash the riots and reject suggestions he helped instigate them. The committee also faces the burden of trying to persuade the American public their conclusions are fact-based and credible.

But the nine lawmakers — seven Democrats and two Republicans — are united in their commitment to tell the full story of Jan. 6, and they are planning televised hearings and reports that will bring their findings out into the open.

Their goal is not only to show the severity of the riot, but also to make a clear connection between the attack and Trump’s brazen pressure on the states and Congress to overturn Joe Biden’s legitimate election as president.

“The full picture is coming to light, despite President Trump’s ongoing efforts to hide the picture,” said Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, the committee’s vice chairwoman and one of its two Republican members.

“I don’t think there’s any area of this broader history in which we aren’t learning new things,” she said.

While the fundamental facts of Jan. 6 are known, the committee says the extraordinary trove of material they have collected —

35,000 pages of records so far, including texts, emails and phone records from people close to Trump — is fleshing out critical details of the worst attack on the Capitol in two centuries, which played out on live television.

They hope to fill in the blanks about the preparations before the attack, the financing behind the Jan. 6 rally that preceded it and the extensive White House campaign to overturn the 2020 election. They are also investigating what Trump himself was doing as his supporters fought their way into the Capitol.

True accountability may be fleeting. Congressional investigations are not criminal cases and lawmakers cannot dole out punishments. Even as the committee works, Trump and his allies continue to push lies about election fraud while working to place similarly minded officials at all levels of state and local government.

“I think that the challenge that we face is that the attacks on our democracy are continuing — they didn’t come to an end on Jan. 6,” said another panel member, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., also chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

Still, the lawmakers hope they can present the public with a thorough accounting that captures what could have been “an even more serious and deeper constitutional crisis,” as Cheney put it.

“I think this is one of the single most important congressional investigations in history,” Cheney said.

The committee is up against the clock. Republicans could disband the investigation if they win the House majority in the November 2022 elections. The committee’s final report is expected before then, with a possible interim report coming in the spring or summer.

In the hearings, which could start in the coming weeks, the committee wants to “bring the people who conducted the elections to Washington and tell their story,” said the panel’s chairman, Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss. Their testimony, he said, will further debunk Trump’s claims of election fraud.

The committee has interviewed several election officials in battleground states, including Arizona, Georgia, Michigan and Pennsylvania, about Trump’s pressure campaign. In some cases, staff have traveled to those states to gather more information.

The panel also is focusing on the preparations for the Jan. 6 rally near the White House where Trump told his supporters to, “Fight like hell” — and how the rioters may have planned to block the electoral count if they had been able to get their hands on the electoral ballots.

They need to amplify to the public, Thompson said, “that it was an organized effort to change the outcome of the election by bringing people to Washington ... and ultimately if all else failed, weaponize the people who came by sending them to the Capitol.”

About 90 percent of the witnesses called by the committee have cooperated, Thompson said, despite the defiance of high-profile Trump allies such as Steve Bannon and former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows. Lawmakers said they have been effective at gathering information from other sources in part because they share a unity of purpose rarely seen in a congressional investigation.

House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy of California, a close Trump ally, decided not to appoint any GOP members to the committee after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., rejected two of his picks last summer.

Pelosi, who created the select committee after Republican senators rejected an evenly bipartisan outside commission, subsequently appointed Republicans Cheney and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, Trump critics who shared the Democrats’ desire to investigate the attack.

“I think you can see that Kevin made an epic mistake,” Kinzinger said. “I think part of the reason we’ve gone so fast and have been so effective so far is because we’ve decided and we have the ability to do this as a nonpartisan investigation.”Kinzinger said the investigation would be “a very different scene” if Republicans allied with Trump were participating and able to obstruct some of their work.

“I think in five or 10 years, when school kids learn about Jan. 6, they’re going to get the accurate story,” Kinzinger said. “And I think that’s going to be dependent on what we do here.”

Democrats say having two Republicans working with them has been an asset, especially as they try to reach conservative audiences who may still believe Trump’s falsehoods about a stolen election.

“They bring to the table perspectives and ability to translate a little bit what is being reflected in conservative media, or how this might be viewed through a conservative lens,” says Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla. “And that’s been really helpful.”

There is “no division, no hostility, no partisan bickering — it’s like, let’s just get this job done,” said California Rep. Zoe Lofgren, another member and a veteran of congressional investigations going back to the Watergate investigation of President Richard Nixon when she was a staffer on the House Judiciary Committee.

The nine-member group has bonded over a friendly text chain where they discuss business and occasionally their personal lives. There are messages wishing a happy birthday, for example, or congratulating another on a child’s wedding.

“It’s good; it’s how Congress should be,” said Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif.

Aguilar says the biggest challenges for the committee are the calendar and the small group of Trump loyalists who are trying to run out the clock by stonewalling or suing them. In the end, he said, he thinks the committee’s final report will stand the test of time, similar to the investigations of the 9/11 attacks and Watergate.

For now, though, “we are still in the eye of the hurricane,” Aguilar said.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

(6) comments

Jim Klukkert

The Chief of Capitol Police says that the number of threats reported has risen from 900 in 2020 to 9000 in 2021.

Time to sic the Honorable Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene on those darn extreme radical Socialist feminist commie Democrats!

David Ford

Shame on you Jim for referring to what's-her-name as "honorable", unless you were being facetious, that is an insult to those in congress who actually conduct themselves honorably...[beam]

And what's the big to-do and massive amounts of money spent on this whole thing anyway, after all it was just simple (minded) tourists, snapping photographs, buying knick-knacks from the gift store (like a replica of Pelosi's podium), you know just like 75% of retrumplicans believe happened.

Emily Koyama

Hey David,

Could you provide your source for that 75% number....?

Or as a Paratrooper would say, did you pull it out of your 4th point of contact?

Jim Klukkert

Ms. Koyama: Business Insider, Oct 19, 2021. "According to a new poll from Quinnipiac University released on Tuesday, ... found that 66% of Republicans do not view the storming of the US Capitol as an attack on the government.

"The poll also found that the vast majority of Republican voters don't hold Trump responsible for the events of that day, regardless of whether it was an attack on the government; 21% of Republican poll respondents said the former president bore "not much" responsibility for the storming of the US Capitol, while 56% said he had no responsibility for it whatsoever."

Not that this matters to you. I recall you alleging that this was no more a big deal than a GOP house party gone awry.

The deadly events of January 6th were accomplished in concert with the highest levels of the Trump clique, in a conscious effort to overturn the lawful results of our Presidential election.

Treason, clearly, and clearly, Treason most foul!

And yes David, I was being sarcastic. Marjorie Taylor Green is a wretched figure.

We surely will see her comeuppance, though not too soon for many of us.

David Ford

Simple typo, edits not allowed...no conspiracy implied or intended....

Jim Klukkert

Hey David– perhaps we should celebrate that Republicans have only twice, so far in this century, used violence to thwart the electoral will of our American electorate.

Folks do seem to forget the first time in November 2000, when the 'Brooks Brothers Riot' was staged at the Miami-Dade County election center, stopping the recount of Florida votes, thus putting 'W.' over Gore.

A substantial number of the participants included Congressional staffers who flew down from DC to assault Democracy.

According to Wikipedia "Both Roger Stone and Brad Blakeman take credit for managing the riot from a command post, although their accounts contradict each other. Republican New York Representative John E. Sweeney gave the signal that started the riot, telling an aide to "shut it down".

Roger Stone, where have I heard that name before?

Wonderful stuff, just another GOP House party, literally, gone awry. And folks wonder why we call them Fascists.

I do hope Ms. Koyama weighs in on this.

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