WASHINGTON (AP) — The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 rebel has interviewed nearly 1,000 people. However the nine-member panel has yet to discuss with the 2 most distinguished players in that day’s events — former President Donald Trump and former Vice President Mike Pence.
Because the investigation winds down and the panel plans a series of hearings in June, members of the committee are debating whether to call the 2 men, whose conflict over whether to certify Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential election win was at the middle of the attack. Trump pressured Pence for days, if not weeks, to make use of his ceremonial role presiding over the Jan. 6 count to attempt to block or delay Biden’s certification. Pence refused to achieve this, and rioters who broke into the constructing that day called for his hanging.
There are reasons to call either or each of them. The committee desires to be as thorough as possible, and critics are sure to pounce in the event that they don’t even try. But some lawmakers on the panel have argued that they’ve obtained all the data they need without Trump and Pence.
Then-President Donald Trump is seen speaking at a rally protesting the electoral college certification of Joe Biden as president in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021.
Nearly a 12 months into their wide-ranging investigation into the worst attack on the Capitol in greater than two centuries, the House committee has interviewed lots of of witnesses and received greater than 100,000 pages of documents. Interviews have been conducted out of the general public eye in obscure federal office buildings and personal Zoom sessions.
The Democratic chairman, Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson, said in early April that the committee has been in a position to validate a whole lot of the statements attributed to Trump and Pence without their testimony. He said at the moment there was “no effort on the a part of the committee” to call Pence, though there have been discussions since then about potentially doing so.
Speaking about Pence, Thompson said the panel had “initially thought it could be necessary” to call him, but “there are a whole lot of things on that day we all know — we all know the individuals who tried to get him to vary his mind concerning the count and all of that, so what’s it we want?”
Lots of the people they’re interviewing, Thompson added, “are people we didn’t have on the unique list.”
Then-Vice President Mike Pence is seen presiding over a joint session of Congress because it convenes to count the Electoral College votes forged within the 2020 election on the Capitol.
The panel, comprised of seven Democrats and two Republicans, has said that the evidence it has compiled is sufficient to link Trump to a federal crime.
Much of the evidence the committee has released thus far has come from White House aides and staff — including little-known witnesses like Cassidy Hutchinson, a former special assistant within the Trump White House, and Greg Jacob, who served as Pence’s chief counsel within the vice chairman’s office. The panel also has 1000’s of texts from Trump’s final chief of staff, Mark Meadows, and has talked to 2 of the previous president’s children, Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr., who were with their father the day of the attack.
Amongst lots of of others, the committee has also interviewed former White House aide Jared Kushner, Ivanka’s husband, former communications director Alyssa Farah and multiple Pence aides, including his chief of staff, Marc Short, and his national security adviser, Keith Kellogg. Former White House press secretaries Kayleigh McEnany and Stephanie Grisham have also appeared, as has former senior policy adviser Stephen Miller.
There are still questions that Trump and Pence could answer, including what they talked concerning the morning of Jan. 6, when Trump made his final plea for Pence to overturn the election when he presided over the Electoral College count in Congress. Lawmakers have been in a position to document most of Trump’s end of the decision but not what Pence said in response.
Within the hours after Trump and Pence spoke, the vice chairman issued an announcement saying he didn’t have the ability to object to the counting of electoral votes. However the president didn’t relent, and went on to publicly pressure Pence at his massive rally in front of the White House after which on Twitter even after his supporters had broken into the Capitol.
Still, it’s unlikely that the 2 former leaders would speak concerning the conversation to the committee — and it’s unclear in the event that they would cooperate in any respect.
While Pence has yet to comment on the committee’s work, Trump would definitely be a hostile witness. He has fought the investigation in court, demonized the committee on TV and tried to claim executive privilege over White House papers and any conversations he had together with his aides — demands that would definitely apply to his morning call with Pence.
As well as, calling a former president or vice chairman to testify in a congressional investigation is a rare, if not unprecedented, move that would face major legal hurdles and backfire politically.
The Jan. 6 committee has given only a glimpse of what it has found, mostly in court filings where excerpts of transcripts have been used.
A recent filing from the committee revealed portions of interviews with Hutchinson that took place in February and March of this 12 months. That testimony provided recent evidence concerning the involvement of GOP lawmakers in Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 election, including a meeting on the White House by which attorneys for the president advised that putting up an alternate slate of electors declaring Trump the winner was not “legally sound.”
One other court document revealed testimony from Jacob, who served as Pence’s chief counsel. In a series of emails, Jacob repeatedly told lawyer John Eastman, who was working with Trump, that Pence couldn’t intervene in his ceremonial role and halt the certification of the electoral votes. Jacob told Eastman the legal framework he was maintaining to just do that was “essentially entirely made up.”
Meadows’ texts have also been revelatory, detailing how people inside Trump’s orbit pleaded for him to forcefully condemn the attack on the Capitol because it unfolded. The pleas got here from Trump’s children, members of Congress and even Fox News hosts.
“He has to guide now. It has gone too far and gotten out of hand,” Donald Trump Jr. texted Meadows as protesters breached the safety perimeter on the Capitol.