What the Jan. 6 Committee Has Done So Far

A bipartisan House committee was formed to investigate the Jan. 6, insurrection. Its goal was straightforward: Compile an accurate account and offer recommendations for preventing it from happening again. It has been a difficult task to piece together all the details of that day. So far, the select committee has obtained more than 30,000 records, interviewed over 300 witnesses and issued subpoenas to dozens of former President Donald Trump’s allies—yet its work remains far from complete.

Members of Trump’s inner circle are refusing to cooperate with the investigation, and the committee is waiting to see whether the Supreme Court will deny the former President’s request to block access to White House records related to the riot. The nine-member House panel, which is missing crucial evidence, hopes to complete its work by the Nov. 8 midterm election, when Republicans may regain control of the House.

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Was there any new evidence?

A total of 9,000 pages of papers that White House chief-of-staff Mark Meadows emailed to Meadows before deciding not to cooperate with the panel was their largest source of evidence. Among them are text messages to Meadows that have brought new focus on Trump’s failure to act quickly to stop the insurrection, despite pleas from lawmakers, journalists and even his eldest son. “Someone is going to get killed,” one anonymous message warned Meadows. “He’s got to condemn this sh-t ASAP,” Donald Trump Jr. wrote.

Investigators are also reviewing a PowerPoint presentation­ circulated­ by Phil Waldron, a retired colonel who worked with Trump’s outside legal team, that recommended Trump declare a national emergency to keep himself President and proposed Vice President Mike Pence reject electors from “states where fraud occurred,” despite there being no evidence of such fraud.

They did what?

Up to now,A committee subpoenaed approximately 50 Trump supporters and organizers to obtain documents, bank statements and phone records. Although most witnesses agreed to cooperate, Meadows, Jeffrey Clark and Stephen Bannon (the chief strategist of Trump) refused to submit records. Bannon, Meadows and Meadows were placed in contempt by Congress. It is a misdemeanor offense which can lead to up to one year imprisonment. In December, the House panel sought interviews with Republican Representative Scott Perry from Florida and Jim Jordan, Ohio. They were said to have communicated with Trump Jan. 6.

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The investigators also proposed subpoenaing Trump for answers to questions before the committee. Experts warn he’s unlikely to speak as long as the courts are considering his claims of Executive privilege, a legal defense Trump is trying to use to shield his presidential communications, despite no longer serving in office.

How do you get started?

One of the most critical ­questions the panel will try to answer is whether Trump’s conduct while a mob of his supporters overtook the Capitol could qualify as an effort to obstruct the certification of Joe Biden’s victory and amount to criminal obstruction of Congress. “We know hours passed with no action by the President to defend the Congress of the United States from an assault while we were trying to count electoral votes,” GOP Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming said to House colleagues on Dec. 14.

While courts have held in the past that Congress cannot conduct a law-enforcement investigation, law­makers can share the results of their probe with the Justice Department if they believe they have uncovered evidence of a crime. This criminal referral may affect midterm elections and put pressure on Attorney General Merrick Garland, who will be prosecuting Trump and his associates for their involvement in the insurrection.

The time is not long. Bennie Thompson (a Mississippi Democrat) is the chairman of this committee. He said he hopes to complete it by spring. “We will tell this story to the American people. But we won’t do it piecemeal,” he said on Dec. 13. “We’ll do it when we can tell the story all at once, from start to finish.”


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