Five key questions that the Jan. 6 committee will address in its hearings

On Thursday, Jan.

NewsEditor
NewsEditor
09 June 2022 Thursday 18:28
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Five key questions that the Jan. 6 committee will address in its hearings

On Thursday, Jan. 6, the House select committee holds its first hearing in prime time at 8:30 p.m. ET promises to combine the findings of its year-long investigation with previously unseen material about the attack on Capitol Hill into a coherent narrative.

Some members of the committee have suggested that there will be "bombshells" that will surprise the public.

Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), a member of the committee, said this week to reporters that despite the fact that so many details have leaked, there is no danger of overhyping the news. We are in the business to communicate to the American public the gravity and immensity these events.

The majority-Democratic committee was charged with investigating the insurrection pro-Trump extremists hoped to overturn the 2020 election. It interviewed more than 1000 witnesses, including former President Donald Trump's family members and administration.

Thursday's hearing will be the first of six. It will include two witnesses: Caroline Edwards (a U.S. Capitol officer and the first member of law enforcement to be injured by the West Front plaza rioters); and Nick Quested (a filmmaker who was there and captured the chaos). Opening statements will be made by Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and Vice Chair Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.). The panel will also display videotaped depositions of senior Trump White House, campaign, and administration officials.

In September, the committee will release a detailed report and make recommendations. Some members have indicated that they support changes to the Electoral Count Act. This law governs the process by which Congress counts and certifies electoral votes. The committee can make legislative recommendations but cannot bring criminal charges. It can only refer criminal matters to the Justice Department.

These are the key topics that the committee will be discussing during the hearings.

Cheney repeatedly raised concerns about the insufficient information regarding what Trump did at the White House during violent protests that broke out at the Capitol. Trump was not able to respond for a time as the rioters threatened lawmakers. He had told his supporters at the Ellipse that he was fighting like hell hours earlier. If you don't fight like Hell, you won't have a country." Trump had suggested that he would go with his supporters to Capitol, but instead he returned to the White House.

Many committee members pointed to the 187-minute period that afternoon, in which it is unclear what Trump was doing, as a key area of their investigation. Interviews with multiple witnesses including Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump have helped to fill the gaps. They also subpoenaed documents including the daily schedule and phone log of President Trump.

Aides to the committee say that Thursday's hearing will include testimony from Trump campaign and White House officials, as well as family members. These will include video clips from taped depositions.

In an attempt to alter the results of the 2020 presidential elections, the committee issued at most 20 subpoenas that were publicly disclosed.

Kelli Ward, chair of the Arizona Republican Party was subpoenaed along with two GOP candidates in swing states. The Republican nominee for Pennsylvania's next governor, Doug Mastriano and Mark Finchem, the Republican candidate for Arizona secretary of state, were also subject to subpoenas.

In some cases, officials from the state helped organize events at which Trump's legal team members and others made false claims about voter fraud. This effort was continued until the day of the attack. Finchem, for example, stated that he needed to provide "evidence", to Pence in order to delay the certification of election results.

The committee also learned that Rudy Giuliani, then-Trump's personal lawyer, pressured Michigan state legislators to reject the results of the Michigan election. Giuliani has also testified before this committee.

Prosecutors in several states have been notified about the efforts.

The probe's most sensitive part, the investigation into the financial background of Jan. 6 Capitol attack has remained a closely guarded area. It has however shared some clues via publicly disclosed subpoenas, court filings, and other public announcements.

A lawsuit by the Republican National Committee revealed that Trump had tried to push for donations from the panel after his defeat in 2020.

Salesforce was subpoenaed by the committee on February 23rd. It claimed that Trump's emails asking for donations included false allegations of election fraud.

It was part of the central question the panel wanted to answer: Did Trump discover new ways to keep the money coming after his loss by switching to a "Stop the Steal” effort?

The panel also issued subpoenas to banks records and sent letters to subpoenaed witnesses to inform them that it is trying to recover appearance fees for Jan. 6 rallies aEUR," that is, whether speakers received payment on that day.

The rally was funded by a combination of super PACs, non-profits, and dark-money groups. However, the panel also examined whether the money helped to finance the insurrection.

The committee is also interested in extreme right-wing groups who have broken into the Capitol. Last year, the panel demanded documents and testimony from the Proud Boys.

It also required testimony from Henry "Enrique", Tarrio, who was chairman of Proud Boys on Jan. 6, Elmer Stewart Rhodes, president Oath Keepers, and Robert Patrick Lewis (chairman of 1st Amendment Praetorian), a lesser-known group that provided security for multiple rallies up to Jan. 6.

According to the members of the committee, these groups were part a larger network that launched the attack on Capitol Hill.

In recent months, the Justice Department has seen a rise in interest in these groups and their leaders. Many members of the Oath Keepers, Proud Boys and other groups were also charged with seditious conspiracies. Some have been convicted with guilty pleas.

Aides to select committees stress that the "vast majority of witnesses" have cooperated and helped the committee accumulate "a mountain of evidence."

However, some former Trump officials and House of Representatives members refused to appear in court or provide documents. Steve Bannon, a former adviser, refused to cooperate with the Justice Department and was eventually charged with contempting Congress last November. His trial is scheduled for this summer. Peter Navarro (ex-trade adviser) was charged with a similar offense last week.

In the beginning, Mark Meadows, former White House Chief of Staff, cooperated and provided a treasure trove of text messages and emails. But then, he changed his mind and refused to give a closed-door interview. Meadows sued the panel and his lawyer raised concerns about executive privilege, even though Biden White House has waived any claims.

A subpoena was also issued to Dan Scavino, a former senior aide. Meadows and Scavino refused to cooperate with a subpoena. The Justice Department informed the House last week that they would not be prosecuted for contempt.

Five sitting House Republicans were also subpoenaed to provide testimony and other documents in a rare move. The most notable was House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who spoke out about the phone conversation he had with Trump the day before the attack. He was then asked to appear voluntarily, and then issued a subpoena. McCarthy aEUR", along with Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) and Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz. aEUR"), have all pushed back against subpoenas. They demanded details about evidence and the questions they would face. It is almost certain that they won't participate in any way. It is unclear whether the panel will vote to hold any in criminal disobedience, and if so, that could lead to a dispute in court.

Check out NPR's live blog for the most recent updates about Thursday's hearing.

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