Briefing

What to know about the latest (and possibly last) Jan. 6 hearing

A Trump subpoena, Pelosi footage, and more

Throughout what was likely its final hearing, the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol attack focused on former President Donald Trump's mindset and motivation leading up to the 2021 riot. During the Thursday proceedings, members presented new evidence showing how Trump planned in advance to declare victory on election night, then later voted unanimously to subpoena the former president. Here's everything you need to know:

How did the hearing start off?

The committee's chair, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), opened the hearing by noting that "when you look back at what has come out through this committee's work, the most striking fact is that all this evidence comes almost entirely from Republicans. The evidence that has emerged did not come from Democrats or opponents of Donald Trump. Instead, look at who has written and testified and produced evidence: aides who have worked loyally for Donald Trump for years; Republican state officials and legislators; Republican electors; the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee; political professionals who worked at the highest levels of the Trump campaign; Trump appointees who served in the most senior positions in the Justice Department; President Trump's staff and closest advisors in the White House; members of President Trump's family, his own White House counsel."

Not all of these witnesses "were thrilled to talk to us, some put up quite a fight, but ultimately the vast majority cooperated with our investigation," Thompson continued. The committee's investigation "is not about politics," he added. "It's not about party. It's about the facts, plain and simple, and it's about making sure our government functions under the rule of law as our Constitution demands."

What new evidence was presented?

It was known before Thursday that Trump allies like political operative Roger Stone and former aide Stephen Bannon had openly discussed Trump's intention to declare victory on election night regardless of the outcome. "He's not going down easy," Bannon said in a recording played during the hearing. "If Biden is winning, Trump is going to do some crazy s--t." The committee also shared an email sent on Oct. 31, 2020, by Tom Fitton, a conservative activist and head of Judicial Watch, to White House aides Dan Scavino and Molly Michael. The email included the line, "We had an election today — and I won," and claimed, falsely, that there was an "Election Day deadline" to count ballots. Fitton sent a follow-up on Nov. 3 and indicated he had been in touch with Trump on the matter, writing, "Just talked to him about the draft below."

Further, the panel played video testimony of former White House aide Alyssa Farah Griffin, who said she went to the Oval Office to see Trump in the week after the election. He was watching television, and when Biden appeared onscreen, Griffin said he told her, "Can you believe I lost to this effing guy?" It was also revealed that, after the election was called for Biden, Trump ordered the withdrawal of troops from Somalia and Afghanistan before Biden's inauguration. In video testimony, military officials said it would have been disastrous had these orders actually been enacted. The committee said the order showed that Trump knew he had lost and was trying to tie up loose ends before leaving the White House. "Claims that President Trump actually thought the election was stolen are not supported by fact and are not a defense," the committee's vice chair, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), said. "There is no defense that Donald Trump was duped or irrational."

What other video was shown?

The committee also shared new footage of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) working to coordinate a response to the riot mob, with Schumer at one point asking Jeffrey Rosen, the then-acting attorney general, to "get the president to tell [the rioters] to leave the Capitol." Pelosi, meanwhile, could be seen pushing to finish the certification of the election results amid the chaos; calling Virginia's then-Gov. Ralph Northam (D) to ask for help from the state's National Guard; and watching CNN's coverage of the attack while in a secure location. "It's just horrendous," she said. "And all at the instigation of the president of the United States."

Did the committee present information from the Secret Service?

Yes. Though the Secret Service deleted text messages sent around the time of the Capitol attack, some emails and documents were turned over to the committee, including a memo stating that the agency had received reports regarding "calls to occupy federal buildings" and conversations about "intimidating Congress and invading the Capitol building" prior to the riot. The panel also shared a tip forwarded by the FBI to the Secret Service in December 2020, in which a source warned that the far-right group the Proud Boys believed "they will have a large enough group to march into [Washington, D.C.] armed." "Their plan is to literally kill people, the source continued. "Please, please take this tip seriously and investigate further."

Did the committee bring up its interview with conservative activist Ginni Thomas?

No. The committee recently interviewed Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, about emails and text messages she sent to former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Arizona legislators about efforts to challenge the election results. But investigators said there wasn't "significant enough evidence" to feature this interview during the hearing, The New York Times reports. Similarly, the panel also decided against bringing up discussions Cabinet members had about using the 25th Amendment to remove Trump.

Was Thursday's proceeding considered a hearing?

Technically, it was a formal committee business meeting, which gave the panel the opportunity to vote on whether to subpoena Trump. The committee members voted unanimously to do so, with Cheney saying, "We are obligated to seek answers directly from the man who set this all in motion, and every American is entitled to those answers so we can act now to protect our republic."

What do people expect Trump will do about the subpoena?

The reaction is mixed. It's likely Trump will resist an appearance before the committee, which would force the panel into "a lengthy process of trying to compel his testimony," writes The Washington Post's Aaron Blake. It will become a non-issue, however, if Republicans take control of the House in the midterm elections, since they will almost certainly put an end to the committee in January.

The Times' Charlie Savage notes that while Trump has been highly critical of the committee and his lawyers may tell him not to testify "since answering questions under oath could risk perjury charges if he lies," the former president has reportedly been telling aides he would like the opportunity to speak to the panel — as long as it's during an interview that is aired live on television.

What are the committee's next steps?

The panel must now present to Congress a report on what was learned during its riot investigation, influencing factors that contributed to the attack, and recommendations on how to prevent a similar incident from happening in the future. The report will draw from the more than 1,000 interviews conducted by the panel, and the millions of emails, text messages, photos, records, and other documents collected. The goal had been to get this report — written in a narrative to make it engaging and easy to follow — finished before the midterms, but it's unclear if the document will be ready in time. The Times says committee staffers have been "working around the clock" to finish the report, describing it as a "gargantuan and consequential document."

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