Posts tagged with "Rep. Bennie Thompson (d-Mississippi)"

January 6 panel presses GOP lawmaker about Capitol tour

May 23, 2022

On May 19, the leaders of the House special committee investigating the January. 6 attack on the Capitol asked a Republican congressman to submit to questioning about a tour of the complex that he allegedly gave one day before the riot—saying they were looking into whether rioters had conducted reconnaissance of the building before the rampage, reports The New York Times.

In a Thursday letter to Representative Barry Loudermilk (R-Georgia), the top two members of the panel said investigators had obtained evidence that the Georgia Republican had led a tour through parts of the Capitol complex on January 5, 2021, when it was closed to visitors because of pandemic restrictions. Loudermilk has denied having led any “reconnaissance” tour.

“Public reporting and witness accounts indicate some individuals and groups engaged in efforts to gather information about the layout of the U.S. Capitol, as well as the House and Senate office buildings, in advance of January 6, 2021,” said a letter to Loudermilk from Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi and the chairman of the panel, and Representative Liz Cheney, Republican of Wyoming and the vice chairwoman.

They did not directly allege that any person escorted by Loudermilk later attacked the Capitol. But they suggested that they had obtained evidence that he had led visitors around the complex, writing that their review of evidence “directly contradicts” Republicans’ denials that closed-circuit security camera footage showed no such tours had taken place.

In a statement, Loudermilk conceded that he had brought constituents into parts of the Capitol complex the day before the riot, but he said the visit had been innocuous.

“A constituent family with young children meeting with their Member of Congress in the House office buildings is not a suspicious group or ‘reconnaissance tour.’ The family never entered the Capitol building,” Loudermilk wrote in a joint statement with Representative Rodney Davis of Illinois, the top Republican on the House Administration Committee, adding: “No place that the family went on the 5th was breached on the 6th, the family did not enter the Capitol grounds on the 6th, and no one in that family has been investigated or charged in connection to January 6th.”

The statement did not say whether Loudermilk would agree to meet with the panel to discuss the matter.

Research contact: @nytimes

Ivanka Trump to testify to House panel investigating January 6 attack

April 6, 2022

Ivanka Trump—former President Donald Trump’s eldest daughter, who served as one of his senior advisers—was scheduled to testify on Tuesday, April 5, before the House committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol, reports The New York Times.

Trump reputably was one of several aides who tried to persuade the president to call off the violence at the U.S. Capitol that ultimately injured more than 150 police officers; and sent lawmakers and Vice President Mike Pence fleeing for safety, according to evidence gathered by the committee.

The schedule for her testimony, which was reported earlier by NBC News, came just days after her husband, Jared Kushner, who was also a top adviser to Trump, sat for an interview and provided what one member of the panel described as “valuable” and “helpful” information.

“There were some things revealed, but we’ll just share that a little later,” Representative Bennie Thompson (D-Mississippi), the chairman of the committee, said of Kushner’s testimony.

Trump and Kushner are among the highest-ranking Trump White House officials to testify before the committee. The interviews have been closed to the public as the panel conducts its work in secret.

Indeed, Ivanka Trump’s lawyers have been in talks with the committee since January, when it sent her a letter requesting voluntary testimony. In the letter, dated January 20, the committee said it had heard from Keith Kellogg, a retired lieutenant general who was Pence’s national security adviser.

Kellogg had described the former president’s refusal to condemn the violence as the mob engulfed the Capitol, even as White House officials—including Ivanka Trump, at least twice—urged him to do so, the letter said.

Kellogg testified that the president had rejected entreaties from him; as well as from Mark Meadows, his chief of staff, and Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary. Kellogg then appealed to Ivanka Trump to intervene.

“She went back in, because Ivanka can be pretty tenacious,” Kellogg testified.

Kellogg also testified that he and Ivanka Trump had witnessed a telephone call in the Oval Office on the morning of January 6 during which the former president pressured Pence to go along with a plan to throw out electoral votes for Joe Biden when Congress met to certify the Electoral College results. The call to Pence was part of an effort to invalidate the 2020 election and give Trump a chance to stay in office.

Kellogg told the committee that the president had accused Pence of not being “tough enough” to overturn the election. Ivanka Trump then said to Kellogg, “Mike Pence is a good man,” he testified.

The committee has interviewed more than 800 witnesses and plans to interview dozens more. Thompson told reporters on Monday that he had authorized five additional subpoenas that day.

Thompson said the committee had ruled out a subpoena for Pence, citing “significant information” it had received from two of his aides, Marc Short and Greg Jacob.

“There won’t be a subpoena,” Mr. Thompson said, adding, “We’ve been able to validate a lot of the statements attributed to [then-]President Trump and the vice president without his specific testimony.”

“There’s no effort on the part of the committee to get him to come in,” he said of Pence, adding: “We initially thought it would be important, but at this point we know that people broke in here and wanted to hang him. We know that his security detail had to protect him in an undisclosed location in the Capitol. We know the people who tried to get him to change his mind, about the count and all of that. So what is it we need?”

Mr. Thompson also indicated that the panel would be likely to the former president as a witness. “I don’t know anything else we could ask Donald Trump that the public doesn’t already know,” Thompson said. “He ran his mouth for four years.”

Research contact: @nytimes

In pushback to Trump, Supreme Court allows release of hundreds of January 6 documents

January 21, 2022

The Supreme Court on Wednesday, January 19,  refused a request from former President Donald Trump to block the release of White House records concerning the January 6 attack on the Capitol—effectively rejecting Trump’s claim of executive privilege and clearing the way for the House committee investigating the riot to start receiving the documents hours later, reports The New York Times.

The court, with only Justice Clarence Thomas noting a dissent, let stand an appeals court ruling that Trump’s desire to maintain the confidentiality of internal White House communications was outweighed by the need for a full accounting of the attack and the disruption of the certification of the 2020 electoral count.

In an unsigned order, the majority wrote that Mr. Trump’s request for a stay while the case moved forward presented weighty issues, including “whether and in what circumstances a former president may obtain a court order preventing disclosure of privileged records from his tenure in office, in the face of a determination by the incumbent president to waive the privilege.”

But an appeals court’s ruling against Trump did not turn on those questions, the order said. “Because the court of appeals concluded that President Trump’s claims would have failed even if he were the incumbent, his status as a former president necessarily made no difference to the court’s decision,” the order said.

Within hours of the decision, the National Archives began turning over hundreds of pages of documents to the committee.v A Justice Department spokesperson said on Wednesday evening that the documents had been delivered to the committee. But a spokesperson for the panel said on Thursday morning that the committee had received only some of the documents and expected the rest to be delivered as quickly as the archives could produce them.

Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi and the chairman of the committee, and Representative Liz Cheney, Republican of Wyoming and the vice chairwoman, called the decision “a victory for the rule of law and American democracy.”

“Our work goes forward to uncover all the facts about the violence of January 6 and its causes,” they said.

Research contact: @nytimes

January 6 committee’s Thompson: ‘No choice’ but to seek contempt charges against Meadows

December 9, 2021

The House committee investigating the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol plans to move forward with contempt proceedings against former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows for his  decision not to cooperate with the panel’s requests, reports NBC News.

Representative Bennie Thompson ( D-Mississippi), the chairman of the committee, wrote in a letter to Meadows’ attorney, George Terwilliger III, on Tuesday night, December 7, that the committee “is left with no choice but to advance contempt proceedings and recommend that the body in which Mr. Meadows once served refer him for criminal prosecution.”

The committee was scheduled to hold a deposition with Meadows on Wednesday, December 8, but he was not expected to show up. Before serving in the Trump White House, Meadows served in the House from 2013 until March 2020.

Thompson said there is “no legitimate basis” for Meadows’ refusal to cooperate with the committee and answer questions about the documents he had already provided to lawmakers. The chairman said those include “a text message exchange with a member of Congress apparently about appointing alternate electors in certain states as part of a plan that the member acknowledged would be ‘highly controversial’ and to which Mr. Meadows apparently said, ‘I love it.’”

“They also feature a text exchange in January 2021 between Meadows and an organizer of the January 6 “Stop the Steal” rally on the White House Ellips; as well as text messages about the need for former President Donald Trump to issue a public statement that could have stopped the January 6 attack on the Capitol,” Thompson wrote.

Thompson said his committee has repeatedly tried to identify the areas of inquiry that Meadows believes are protected by executive privilege, but neither Terwilliger nor Meadows have “meaningfully provided that information.”Hi

He added that he had given Meadows opportunities to comply with the committee and questioned how the former White House chief of staff could produce documents–but then decide not to appear for a deposition to answer questions about them.

Thompson also questioned how Meadows released a new book in which he wrote about January 6, but is “denying a congressional committee the opportunity to ask him about the attack on our Capitol.” That “marks an historic and aggressive defiance of Congress,” Thompson wrote.

The letter came after Meadows said earlier Tuesday that he would no longer cooperate with the committee, which prompted the panel to threaten contempt proceedings.

Research contact: @NBCNews

Judge rules that Trump’s January 6 White House records should be handed over to House committee

November 11, 2021

A federal judge ruled late Tuesday night, November 9, that former President Donald Trump’s sensitive White House records should be turned over to congressional investigators looking into the departed executive’s role in fueling the January 6 Capitol insurrection, reports The Daily Beast.

Whether it will actually happen is still a bit of a question: Almost immediately on Tuesday night, Trump’s legal team filed an appeal. However, House lawmakers are closer than ever to acquiring internal communications—including phone records for January 6—from within the White House.

And the National Archives, which is in possession of the records, has said it plans to hand over documents Friday unless a court stops the transfer.

That appears to be unlikely at the moment, the Beast says.

Three weeks ago, Trump sued the chairman of the select committee conducting the investigation, Representative Bennie Thompson (D-Mississippi), in an attempt to assert executive privilege and block the National Archives from releasing records of internal White House communications before and during the assault on the nation’s democracy.

U.S. District Judge for the District of Columbia Tanya S. Chutkan, however, ruled that she would not step in the way of the Archives turning over those records.

“The court holds that the public interest lies in permitting—not enjoining—the combined will of the legislative and executive branches to study the events that led to and occurred on January 6, and to consider legislation to prevent such events from ever occurring again,” she wrote.

Chutkan agreed with the committee that this is “a matter of unsurpassed public importance because such information relates to our core democratic institutions and the public’s confidence in them.”

The judge added that Trump’s last ditch effort to keep key details secret would likely fail in a prolonged court battle anyway.

Trump’s political director of communications, Taylor Budowich, issued a statement late Tuesday saying that this battle “was destined to be decided by the Appellate Courts.”

“Pres. Trump remains committed to defending the Constitution & the Office of the Presidency, & will be seeing this process through,” he wrote on Twitter.

His decision to raise the fight to the appellate court could stall the National Archives and Records Administration from releasing it by its deadline this Friday.

Although Trump’s lawyer, Jesse Binnall, argued that the former president could still assert executive privilege with the expectation that current President Joe Biden must abide by it, legal scholars immediately noted that the argument is nonsensical, given the obvious fact that Trump is no longer president, and his successor is under no obligation to abide by his wishes.

Chutkin touched on that in her opinion, ripping into Trump for attempting to assert expanded power. “Plaintiff does not acknowledge the deference owed to the incumbent President’s judgment. His position that he may override the express will of the executive branch appears to be premised on the notion that his executive power ‘exists in perpetuity.’ But Presidents are not kings, and Plaintiff is not President,” she wrote.

Within hours, Thompson issued a statement thanking the judge for her ruling, accusing Trump’s lawsuit of being “little more than an attempt to delay and obstruct our investigation.”

“The presidential records we requested from the National Archives are critical for understanding the terrible events of January 6th,” he said in the statement. “The Select Committee’s investigation is moving forward swiftly and we look forward to receiving these important records from the National Archives.”

Research contact: @thedailybeast

After security breach at rally, Biden may request Secret Service protection

March 6, 2020

Jill Biden is not just her husband’s greatest champion; she’s also his strongest defender, as she proved when environmental activists rushed the stage at a rally in Los Angeles on March 3 and she quickly stepped forward to shield the candidate.

While the dangerous situation was dealt with quickly and effectively, former Vice President Joe Biden was alarmed that protesters had slipped through his private security cordon and that his wife had been caught in the middle.

On Wednesday, his campaign  began privately deliberating whether to formally request Secret Service protection for the candidate, according to a person with knowledge of the situation, The Washington Post reported..

Both Biden and fellow candidate Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) have been relying on private security firms to handle their public appearances, which is unusual this late in a presidential campaign cycle—in comparison with 2016, 2012, and 2008—the Post noted.

But their emergence over the past week as the clear front-runners in the Democratic primaries has prompted calls for the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the U.S. Secret Service, to authorize full-time protection for both of them.

“Taking into consideration the remaining candidates’ large campaign operations, high polling averages, as well as physical threats to their safety … I urge you to immediately initiate the consultation process to determine whether to provide USSS protection” to Biden and Sanders,” Representative Bennie Thompson (D-Mississippi), the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, wrote in a letter Wednesday to Acting DHS secretary Chad Wolf.

Representative Cedric Richmond (D-Louisiana), a member of the Homeland Security Committee and co-chair of Biden’s campaign, told reporters that Democratic lawmakers were “worried about” security for the Democrats on the campaign trail even before the incident at Biden’s speech on Super Tuesday.

The Biden campaign has begun deliberating over whether to move forward with a formal request to the Secret Service, according to the person familiar with the situation, who spoke to The Washington Post on the condition of anonymity to comment freely about a sensitive security matter. The Sanders campaign did not immediately respond to questions on the subject. The DHS also did not respond to a request for comment.

Both Biden, during his eight years as vice president, and Sanders, during his 2016 contest against Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination, have received Secret Service protection in the past.

Research contact: @washingtonpost