Jan. 6 panel’s 1,000 witnesses: From Trump aides to rioters
WASHINGTON (AP) — The House Jan. 6 committee has interviewed more than 1,000 people who were directly or indirectly involved in the U.S. Capitol insurrection as it probes the violent attack and former President Donald Trump’s unprecedented efforts to overturn his election defeat.
Several will return for a series of public hearings starting Thursday as the committee begins to present its findings to the public. The panel is expected to bring in some of its most informative and revelatory witnesses as it recounts Trump’s efforts to pressure state officials, members of Congress and his own vice president to reject President Joe Biden’s victory.
On Thursday evening, they will interview British filmmaker Nick Quested, who recorded members of the far-right Proud Boys as they stormed the building, and Caroline Edwards, a U.S. Capitol Police officer who was seriously injured in last year’s attack.
Some of the interviews conducted by the panel were with well-known figures, among them members of Trump’s family and top White House aides. Others were with lower-level staffers or government officials who attended key meetings or had knowledge of specific developments. The committee has talked to police officers, campaign aides and some of the rioters themselves.
Most of the witnesses sat for voluntary interviews, but the panel has issued more than 100 subpoenas. The House voted to pursue contempt charges against four people who refused to comply, and the Justice Department is prosecuting two of them — former Trump aides Steve Bannon and Peter Navarro. The department declined to prosecute former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and Trump aide Dan Scavino.
A look at some of the committee’s witnesses — and some who refused to cooperate — as the panel holds hearings this month:
TRUMP’S INNER CIRCLE
The committee met with several key members of Trump’s family, including children Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr., and Ivanka’s husband, Jared Kushner. Former White House press secretaries Kayleigh McEnany and Stephanie Grisham have also appeared, as has former senior policy adviser Stephen Miller.
The panel also interviewed Kashyap Patel, a White House national security aide who moved to the Pentagon in the weeks after Trump lost the election and was in communication with the White House as Trump’s supporters pushed into the Capitol. The panel’s probe has attempted to dissect what the Trump was doing as the rioters stormed in.
And while Meadows eventually declined to sit for an interview, he did provide the panel with thousands of his text messages as part of negotiations over his testimony. Those text messages show the White House chaos that day as aides and allies pressed Trump to intervene and stop the violence.
One of Meadows’ former aides, Cassidy Hutchinson, told the committee that Meadows had received potential warnings of violence on Jan. 6. She also described how the White House counsel’s office cautioned against Trump’s plans to enlist fake electors in swing states, including in meetings attended by Meadows and Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani.
The committee has also delved deeply into Trump’s pressure on Vice President Mike Pence, who was presiding over the election certification in Congress. The panel didn’t publicly call Pence to testify, but the lawmakers talked to several of Pence’s aides, many of whom were frustrated at how the vice president was treated as Trump publicly urged him to try to overturn the election count — a power he did not legally have. Some of the rioters chanted Pence’s name as they broke into the Capitol and called for his hanging.
The aides who testified included Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short, his national security adviser, Keith Kellogg, and former communications aide Alyssa Farah.
Greg Jacob, who served as Pence’s chief counsel in the vice president’s office, also spoke to the panel. As part of a court filing, the committee released emails between Jacob and lawyer John Eastman, who was working with Trump, in which Jacob said that Pence could not intervene in his ceremonial role and halt the certification of the electoral votes. Jacob told Eastman the legal framework he was putting forward to do just that was “essentially entirely made up.”
Eastman has fought the committee’s requests for his records, but a court has ordered him to release some of them to the panel.
MEMBERS OF CONGRESS
The panel last month subpoenaed five Republican lawmakers, including House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy, but none has so far complied.
McCarthy has acknowledged he spoke with Trump on Jan. 6 as Trump’s supporters were beating police outside the Capitol and forcing their way into the building. But he has not shared many details. The committee requested information about his conversations with Trump “before, during and after” the riot.
Subpoenas were also issued to Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio, Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, Andy Biggs of Arizona and Mo Brooks of Alabama. All four met with Trump and White House officials as the former president focused on the Jan. 6 congressional electoral count as his last opportunity to overturn his defeat.
In a letter to the panel, an attorney for McCarthy argued that the select committee does not have the authority to issue subpoenas to the lawmakers under House rules and demanded answers to a series of questions and documents if his client were to comply.
The panel has also spoken to Justice Department officials, including former Attorney General Bill Barr, former acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and his deputy, Richard Donoghue.
Barr resigned from office in December 2020 after announcing that the department had found no widespread fraud in the election. After he left, Rosen and Donoghue defended the department against intense pressure from Trump and his allies, who wanted them to declare that there had been fraud and go after states that had certified Biden’s win.
The committee also interviewed Jeffrey Clark, a former Justice Department official who was sympathetic to Trump as he tried to overturn the vote. Clark had drafted a letter for key swing states — never sent — that falsely claimed the department had discovered troubling irregularities in the election. A White House lawyer at the time, Pat Cipollone, told Trump the letter was a “murder-suicide pact.”
Yet Trump still came close to installing Clark as attorney general, only to back down when confronted with the likelihood of mass resignations at the Justice Department.
The panel has reached out to Rosen to testify at one of the June hearings, according to a person familiar with the matter who insisted on anonymity to discuss private conversations.
RIOTERS, AND THOSE THEY ATTACKED
The panel has spoken to some of the rioters who were charged after the insurrection.
Stewart Rhodes, the founder and leader of the far-right Oath Keepers militia group, appeared remotely before the panel in February from a federal jail where he has been awaiting trial on sedition charges. Rhodes and 10 others were the first to be charged with seditious conspiracy for their roles in the violent insurrection.
Lawmakers also interviewed some of the law enforcement officers who were attacked and security officials who oversaw them. Four police officers testified at the panel’s first hearing last July, telling of the lasting mental and physical injuries they suffered when they were overwhelmed and viciously beaten by the mob.
Another focus of the panel has been the massive Trump rally on the National Mall that was held that morning and went on even after the Capitol breach began.
Included on a list of 11 subpoenas in September were Amy and Kylie Kremer, founders of Women for America First, a group that helped organize the rally; Cynthia Chafian, an organizer who submitted the first permit for the rally; Caroline Wren, who the committee says was listed on permit paperwork for the Jan. 6 rally as a “VIP Advisor”; and Maggie Mulvaney, who the panel says was listed on the permit as “VIP Lead.”
Most of those subpoenaed cooperated.
Associated Press writers Eric Tucker, Michael Balsamo and Jill Colvin contributed to this report.
For more coverage of the Jan. 6 insurrection hearings, go to https://apnews.com/hub/capitol-siege
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