Transcript: Representative Bennie Thompson on "Face the Nation"

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The following is a transcript of an interview with Representative Bennie Thompson that aired Sunday, January 23, 2022, on "Face the Nation."

MARGARET BRENNAN: We are back now with the Chairman of the committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. Congressman Bennie Thompson of Mississippi. Good morning to you, chairman.

REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS): Good morning, how are you?

MARGARET BRENNAN: Good. This was a very big week, as we said, 700 pages of Trump administration documents were handed over to your committee at the order of the Supreme Court. What changes now that you have these in your possession?

REP. THOMPSON: Well, we are in the process of reviewing the documents. As you know, this was one of the first requests that we made as a committee to the National Archives. We think it's important to our investigation to have this information and we are glad that the Supreme Court agreed with us today.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Is this the last piece of the puzzle here? I mean, how does this affect your timeline for holding public hearings? As you said, you want to begin those in the spring.

REP. THOMPSON: Well, to be honest, where he will review the documents, we'll see what those documents present to us in terms of direction. We'll see if that information leads us to additional individuals to make requests. But it's so significant to our investigation to have the documents and executive privilege and other things obviously had no bearing, and we're just happy for the Supreme Court decision. We'll look forward to reviewing it and based on the review, we'll take next steps.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And the spring is still the plan for public hearings?

REP. THOMPSON: Absolutely. To be honest with you, as you know, we are reviewing thousands of pages of documents, hundreds of witnesses. It's taken a good bit of time for the committee to put together. And hearings at this point, we expect to be sometime in the spring.

MARGARET BRENNAN: In recent days, your committee also took aim at Rudy Giuliani, the former president's attorney. You subpoenaed him. You asked the president's daughter, Ivanka Trump, to appear by Feb 3. You also subpoenaed two white nationalists. This seems like a pretty wide net. What is your strategy?

REP. THOMPSON: Well, our strategy is to get to all the facts and circumstances that brought about Jan 6. We identified the players, Rudy Giuliani is clearly one of those individuals, the right-wing individual organizations that participated, providing security and other things very important. And obviously, Ivanka Trump was a major adviser to the president all along, a number of items attributed to what she's been saying and so we asked her to come in voluntarily and give us the benefit of what she knows.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Will she?

REP. THOMPSON: Well, we'll wait and see February 3rd, and we'll go after that.

MARGARET BRENNAN: In terms of Rudy Giuliani, who we just mentioned, you subpoenaed. There was another news development in terms of public reporting. Republican electors in at least five states put together essentially fake slates of the electors. In states that Joe Biden won, they handed over these slates, saying instead that Donald Trump won them. And according to Marc Short, the former chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, he was presented with letters by Rudy Giuliani on behalf of state legislators to this- to this end, trying to persuade the former vice president not to certify the election. Do you know who was orchestrating this effort? I mean, this is a pretty significant claim.

REP. THOMPSON: Well, we do know that some of the information we've received from National Archives include proposed plans for doing certain things if we are after review of those plans determined specifically individuals who did this. We will make the referral to the Justice Department. We're not a criminal entity, that's the Department of Justice, but we are concerned that documents have been filed saying they were individuals responsible for conducting and certifying elections, and they are not. And when you falsify documents, in most instances, that's a criminal act.

MARGARET BRENNAN: There was also another story, significant. POLITICO published the text of a draft executive order that had been presented to President Trump in Dec of 2020 to have the defense secretary seize voting machines in battleground states. And multiple news organizations have now reported this. Do you intend to go to the Attorney General, Bill Barr, to ask him about this? I mean, how do you follow up on- on this kind of allegation and the paperwork to back it up?

REP. THOMPSON: Well, yes, we do. To be honest with you, we've had conversations with the former attorney general already. We have talked to Department of Defense individuals. We are concerned that our military was part of this big lie on promoting that the election was false. So, if you are using the military to potentially seize voting machines, even though it's a discussion, the public needs to know, we've never had that before. And so any of these individuals who are participating and trying to stop the election, the duly election of a president, and if we can document it, we will share it with the public.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I just want to follow up on something you said. Do you have proof that there was someone inside the United States military working on this premise? Of actually seizing voting machines.

REP. THOMPSON: Well, we have information that between the Department of Justice, a plan was put forward to potentially seize voting machines in the country and utilize Department of Defense assets to make that happen.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Something beyond this draft executive order, there was actually an operational plan?

REP. THOMPSON: Well, no, not an operational plan, but just the draft itself is-

MARGARET BRENNAN: OK.

REP. THOMPSON: –Is reason enough to believe that it was being proposed. Our job is to get to the facts and circumstances of how far did they go? We do know that a potential person was identified to become the attorney general of the United States, who would communicate with certain states that election on their situation had been fraudulent and not to produce certified documents. Well, we understand that. So, we will move forward on that investigation, and we will look and see specifically how far that plan went.

MARGARET BRENNAN: That's incredible. Will the former attorney general, Bill Barr, testify to you? Will you seek out other members of the military to clarify some of what you just laid out here?

REP. THOMPSON: Well, part of our plan is to continue to engage all those individuals that we deem necessary and important to our investigation. Some will talk to some we will do in deposition under oath. Others we will offer hearing opportunities. But I can assure you, as we develop this information, we will clearly present it to the public. We plan at this point to have a series of public hearings showing the use of federal assets, Department of Justice, Department of Defense and other agencies to actually stop the duly election of a president. So, we'll do it in-in due time.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Quickly, Stewart Rhodes, the head of the far-right group the Oath Keepers, was charged with seditious conspiracy by the Department of Justice this week. As part of that, it became public that he was apparently stashing weapons waiting for the White House to invoke the Insurrection Act. Is any part of that connected to what you just laid out?

REP. THOMPSON: Well, Stewart Rhodes is one of the persons that we identify as a committee we wanted to talk to. We'll see what happens. We're not part of the criminal indictment. That's a separate investigation.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I understand. Chairman, thank you for your time this morning. And next up, we'll have more on the situation in Ukraine and what can be done to stop Russia.

Blinken warns of "massive consequences" for Russia if Putin invades Ukraine

Open: This is "Face the Nation," January 23

Nature: British Virgin Islands

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