Jan. 6 Takeaways: From a Trump Subpoena to a New Video of Pelosi During Attack
(Bloomberg) -- The Jan. 6 committee closed its last scheduled hearing with a dramatic flourish: a unanimous vote to subpoena former President Donald Trump for his role in the Capitol insurrection.
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The congressional hearing, in which the panel’s nine lawmakers summed up the evidence, made the case that Trump knew he lost, but still sought to overturn the election. They sprinkled in new evidence from Secret Service communications and compelling video of congressional leaders hiding from the rioters on Jan. 6, 2021.
“We have left no doubt, none, that Donald Trump led an effort to upend American democracy that directly resulted in the violence of Jan. 6,” committee Chairman Bennie Thompson said in closing remarks.
Less than a month before the midterm elections, where some Republicans are campaigning on false claims of a stolen 2020 presidential election, the committee’s work continues to feed into decisions on the balance of power in Congress.
Here are the biggest takeaways from Thursday’s hearing:
1. The committee is still investigating
The lawmakers voted 9-0 to compel testimony and documents from Trump, though that is likely to turn into a protracted legal battle and it’s unclear when the committee could actually get the information.
Vice chair Liz Cheney said that there’s also evidence for multiple criminal referrals to the Department of Justice, and that the committee will make decisions about those in the coming weeks. She specifically mentioned Trump adviser Roger Stone, General Mike Flynn, lawyer John Eastman, Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark and former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows as people who may be concealing additional information.
The committee plans to issue a final report this fall.
2. Trump knew he lost the election and fought results anyway
Committee members repeatedly sought to show through examples, and interviews with Trump’s aides, that the president knew that he lost the election, but decided to reject the outcome anyway.
“The evidence shows that his false victory speech was planned well in advance, before any votes had been counted,” Representative Zoe Lofgren said. “It was a premeditated plan by the president to declare victory no matter what the actual result was. He made a plan to stay in office before Election Day.”
Cheney, a persistent Trump critic who lost her primary re-election bid after joining the committee, said Americans should not assume that democratic institutions would hold in any future attack.
“Our institutions only hold when men and women of good faith make them hold, regardless of political cost,” the Wyoming Republican said. “We have no guarantee that these men and women will be in place next time.”
3. Congressional leaders made frantic phone calls during the attack
Previously unpublished video showed House and Senate leaders in safe rooms at the Capitol asking for assistance from Vice President Mike Pence, the Maryland National Guard and the Department of Defense to stop the violence at the Capitol.
A series of shaky videos showed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell getting updates from their staffs about the damage occurring in the building and reports about lawmakers who were not yet in safe locations.
In one video, an aide told Pelosi that House members trapped on the chamber floor were putting on tear gas masks. Pelosi looks to Representative Jim Clyburn and asked: “Do you believe this?”
“They’re breaking windows and going in and obviously ransacking our offices and all the rest of that. That’s nothing,” Pelosi said in another video, blaming Trump for the riot. “The concern we have about personal safety has transcended everything.”
4. Secret Service communications have surfaced
Despite the deletion of Secret Service texts and emails from Jan. 5 and Jan. 6, 2021, the committee said it obtained records showing the agency had learned of plans to attack the US Capitol.
Representative Adam Schiff of California said the committee has almost 1 million emails, recordings and other electronic records from Secret Service that it’s still reviewing.
Emails the Secret Service received on Dec. 24 and Dec. 26, 2020 said protesters were “armed and ready” and “their plan is to literally kill people.” There also were tips that the Proud Boys planned to march armed to the Capitol, Schiff said.
Also shown was a Secret Service message from Dec. 11, after the US Supreme Court declined to take on a last-minute challenge to the election: “Just fyi. POTUS is [angry] -- breaking news -- Supreme Court denied his lawsuit. He is livid now.”
5. Trump sought last-ditch effort for Afghanistan withdrawal
To bolster the committee’s case that Trump knew he had lost, Representative Adam Kinzinger played clips showing video clips from testimony Pence’s national security adviser Keith Kellogg and Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff General Mark Milley gave to the committee discussing Trump’s desire to issue an order to immediately withdraw troops from Afghanistan and Somalia.
The advisers said they were concerned about the order -- which was ultimately not carried out, even though Trump signed it.
“These are the highly consequential actions of a president who knows his term will shortly end,” Kinzinger said.
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