Jan. 6 Committee Not Asking Hawley and Cruz to Testify

WASHINGTON — The week before the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, Missouri’s Josh Hawley became the first Republican senator to announce he would object to the certification of the 2020 election.

Texas’ Ted Cruz came next, dashing off his own plan on a flight from Houston to Washington days before the joint session of Congress to certify the election results.

In all, a dozen GOP senators initially planned to challenge Joe Biden’s victory. However, unlike their House GOP counterparts that were subject to subpoenas for testimony before Jan. 6, the probe has been largely avoided by the Republican senators.

While the committee did share highlights about the senators, including Hawley’s raised-fist salute to the rioters that day — an image seared in history, and now on coffee mugs the senator sells — it has made the surprising, if pragmatic, decision not to call the senators for testimony. Hawley ran from the Senate chamber in a dramatic video as rioters chased him.

The senators, who were subject to greater public scrutiny since Jan. 6, have had to answer their actions in their own words and often did so with defiance.

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“I do not regret it,” Hawley said to applause at Turning Point USA’s Student Action Summit in Tampa, Florida, after he strode to the stage Friday to a standing ovation.

Bennie Thompson, chairman of the Jan. 6-committee has stated that the committee is now looking for other options. As work continues, the investigation is moving closer to the top ranks of the White House and the defeated president’s inner circle.

“We continue to receive new information every day,” Thompson, D-Miss., said last week, announcing the next round of hearings in September. “We are pursuing many additional witnesses for testimony.”

The House committee is investigating not only the grisly attack on the Capitol, but Trump’s extraordinary effort to overturn the presidential election by submitting “fake” slates of electors from the battleground states to vote for him, not Biden, when Congress convened Jan. 6 to tally the 2020 presidential election results.

According to Norm Eich, a Brookings Senior Fellow and former Top Advisor to Democrats on House Judiciary Committee, the senators may provide information regarding the period leading up to Jan. 6.

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The committee shared a dramatic snapshot of a text-exchange that showed how Ron Johnson, a top GOP aide, attempted to pass off false pro-Trump electors from one of his top lieutenants to Mike Pence while he presided over the ceremony of certifying election results. Johnson denied being involved.

Eisen explained that after interviewing more than 1000 witnesses and issuing rare subpoenas, Eisen indicated that the panel was trying to maintain its political capital. The panel declined to compile senators to give evidence in an attempt to challenge the House to the top chamber.

The Jan. 6 committee’s decision to issue subpoenas to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California and Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio, Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, Andy Biggs of Arizona and Mo Brooks of Alabama was a show of force by the nine-member panel. After much discussion among the legislators, it was a show of force. They had been pondering for weeks whether the unusual step of subpoenaing their members would increase partisan tensions regarding the attacks of 2021.

“They only have so much committee time,” said Eisen.

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Cruz refused to answer Tuesday’s question about whether he would appear before the Jan.6 panel had asked him for testimony. Hawley’s office has similarly said he wouldn’t want to address a hypothetical situation.

But in recent conversations, the Republicans have stood by their efforts to challenge Biden’s victory.

“This country would have been much better off” if Congress had taken up his plan, Cruz recently told The Associated Press.

Cruz had proposed forming a commission to audit voter fraud in the disputed states, even though Trump’s own Justice Department said there was no voter fraud on a scale that could have tipped the 2020 election. Numerous fraud cases have gone unheard or rejected by courts.

Cruz claimed he didn’t recall having conversations with John Eastman (Trump ally and conservative lawyer) who was responsible for the creation of the alternate electors system. Last month, federal authorities seized Eastman’s phone and issued subpoenas to electors in states nationwide allegedly involved in the scheme.

“I wrestled for a long time with what was the best approach to take with regard to the certification on Jan. 6,” Cruz said. He claimed he wrote the entire statement that he submitted with 11 senators. Cruz said he then flew to Washington and rushed it.

Hawley has brushed off questions about the committee’s work, and declined last month to comment about Eastman’s plans for the alternative electors.

One police officer testified to the committee that Hawley’s raised fist on Jan. 6 “riled up the crowd” that day, said Rep. Elaine Luria, D-Va. During last week’s hearing, she played the video showing how Hawley “fled after those protesters he helped to rile up stormed the Capitol.”

Johnson has downplayed his aide’s attempt to pass a fake slate of electors to Pence. Although it didn’t happen, the moment proved how close to the original plan was. It was possible that the electoral votes of Wisconsin and Michigan would have gone to Trump had it been successful. Biden is the legitimate winner.

The Capitol was cleared of protesters by police that night. Seven Republican senators, led by Cruz and Hawley, stayed with their plan to contest the election results. A number of other GOP senators, who initially had signed on to the plan, backed out.

One Republican who voted in protest of the results, Senator Tommy Tuberville from Alabama, stated Tuesday that he will talk to the committee to provide his testimony if requested.

“I’d go,” said Tuberville, who took a phone call from Trump as senators were being swept to safety. The committee said that Tuberville was among the senators to have received a call from Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s lawyer.

Tuberville said he hasn’t been watching the hearings. “There’s nothing, anything, that I’ve seen that would change my mind on anything that I’ve voted on,” he said.

Associated Press journalist Jill ColvinThis report was contributed by Tampa, Florida.

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