Posts tagged with "U.S. Capitol attack"

At third hearing, January 6 committee focuses on Trump’s efforts to pressure Pence

June 17, 2022

The third hearing by the House select committee investigating the January. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol focused in on a wide-ranging pressure campaign that then-President Donald Trump put on his own vice president, Mike Pence, to disrupt the transfer of power that day, reports The Wall Street Journal.

The hearing on Thursday, June 16, was led by Representative Pete Aguilar (D-California), according to committee aides; while John Wood, a senior investigator for the committee, was involved in questioning witnesses.

The committee in its second hearing on Monday reviewed evidence that Trump was told repeatedly by White House insiders, including his own attorney general, William Barr, that his claims that the 2020 election was riddled with fraud weren’t true. Trump, who refused to acknowledge the lack of evidence of election fraud, continued to assert that the election had been stolen. The committee says those claims helped inspire the mob on January 6 to storm the Capitol.

During the second public hearing, former Attorney General William Barr said the voter fraud claims were “disturbing allegations.” Witnesses testified on former President Donald Trump’s efforts to cast doubt on the election, which the committee alleges triggered the attack on the Capitol.

Trump has denied wrongdoing related to the riot and called the committee’s probe a sham.

On Thursday, the committee detailed how Trump, over the course of several weeks leading up to January 6, pushed Pence—who as vice president presided over the counting of Electoral College votes—to refuse to accept votes for Joe Biden from a handful of battleground states, throwing the election into chaos. The former president was following a playbook sketched out by lawyer John Eastman in a memo entitled “January 6 scenario.”

The scheme detailed by Eastman was based in part on the existence of fake slates of electors from seven battleground states—including Pennsylvania, Arizona and Georgia—signed by Trump backers. The hearing outlined evidence from the committee’s investigation into efforts to submit those slates, according to committee aides.

Under Eastman’s plan, Pence would refuse to count ballots in states that had multiple slates of electors. That would leave Trump with a majority of votes, and “Pence then gavels President Trump as re-elected,” according to the memo.

After expected objections from Democrats, Pence would send the matter to the House, where each state would have one vote. Since Republicans at the time controlled the delegations of 26 states, “President Trump is re-elected,”  Eastman wrote.

Another version of the plan involved sending the electoral votes back to state legislatures, which would determine which electoral slates to send to Congress. More than 100 Republican House members and several Republican senators challenged votes from states such as Pennsylvania—challenges the House and Senate ultimately rejected.

Pence consulted with several experts about Eastman’s plan, including former U.S. Court of Appeals Judge J. Michael Luttig, who hagreed to appear at the committee’s hearing Thursday.

In a letter distributed to members of Congress on January6, Pence wrote that, while some thought he could accept or reject electoral votes unilaterally, he didn’t think he had the “authority to decide which electoral votes should be counted during the Joint Session of Congress.”

In a speech to the pro-Trump crowd at the Ellipse near the White House on January. 6, Eastman said, “All we are demanding of Vice President Pence is this afternoon at 1:00 he let the legislators of the [states] look into this so we get to the bottom of it.”

“All Vice President Pence has to do is send it back to the states to recertify and we become president,” Trump said in his January 6 speech to the crowd, which followed Eastman’s.

After Trump’s speech, a large crowd started moving toward the Capitol. Trump later tweeted that Pence “didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution.” Members of the mob that broke into the Capitol began chanting “hang Mike Pence”—and Trump was said to have privately agreed that they “might be right.”

Indeed, Representative Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming), vice chairwoman of the select committee, in her opening statement at the panel’s first hearing said that Trump, aware of the chants, responded: “Maybe our supporters have the right idea.”

At the Thursday hearing, the committee planned to feature video evidence showing the danger Mr. Pence faced on January 6, committee aides said.

Research contact: @WSJ

Jared Kushner testifies to January 6 committee for more than six hours

April 4, 2022

The House committee investigating the January 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol has interviewed its first Trump family member and the highest-ranking official to date from the previous administration—meeting with Jared Kushner on Thursday, March 31, for more than six hours, reports NBC News.

The panel met virtually with Kushner—Donald Trump’s son-in-law and a former senior White House adviser—after he voluntarily agreed to speak with the committee, which Trump has accused of conducting a “witch hunt.”

A source described Kushner as being cooperative and friendly; adding that he did the talking, as opposed to having his lawyers speak for him.

The committee did not immediately comment on Kushner’s appearance.

Representative Elaine Luria (D-Virginia), a member of the January 6 committee, told MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace that Kushner “was able to voluntarily provide information to us to verify, substantiate, provide his own take on this different reporting,” adding, “So it was really valuable for us to have the opportunity to speak to him.”

A representative for Kushner did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Asked about Kushner’s planned interview this week, White House Communications Director Kate Bedingfield said the “White House has decided not to assert executive privilege over the testimony of Jared Kushner,” essentially allowing him to speak about discussions with Trump that would otherwise be considered confidential.

Several witnesses have refused to answer the committee’s questions by arguing that only Trump can waive that privilege, not President Joe Biden.

It’s unclear what exactly the committee asked Kushner. The panel had been expected to inquire about Trump’s false claims that he won the election and other information related to the deadly attack on the Capitol.

While Kushner’s wife, Ivanka Trump, was in the White House and met with her father on January 6, 2021, Kushner was returning to Washington from a trip to Saudi Arabia.

The Jan. 6 panel, which has interviewed hundreds of witnesses and issued dozens of subpoenas, is also in talks with Ivanka Trump for a voluntary interview, NBC News has reported. Bedingfield said Tuesday that the White House would not assert executive privilege in her interview, either.

Research contact: @NBCNews

The inexplicable 7-hour gap in the Trump White House’s January 6 call log

March 30, 2022

Fifty years ago, the scandalous actions of an American president were shielded from public view, thanks to a suspiciously convenient 18½-minute gap in the Nixon White House’s call recordings. Today, the actions of another American president remain shielded thanks to another convenient—and inexplicable— gap in White House records, reports The Washington Post.

The Post’s Bob Woodward and CBS News’s Robert Costa state that White House documents turned over to the House January 6 select committee display a gap of 7 hours and 37 minutes between phone calls then-President Donald Trump had with allies.

The gap takes place between 11:17 a.m. and 6:54 p.m., covering virtually the entirety of the insurrection at the Capitol, which was first breached at 2:11 p.m. on January 6, 2021.

Other Trump actions are recorded for that period, including an hour-plus-long speech he gave at a rally that preceded the insurrection, and some of his movements inside the White House. But vast stretches of time are unaccounted for, The Washington Post says.

Why is that inexplicable? Because the documents show Trump rather feverishly working the phones at virtually all other times. He spoke to at least eight people that morning, in the period before the more than seven-hour gap, and he spoke to at least 11 people afterward. He also repeatedly requested calls with, and received messages from, the White House switchboard.

Perhaps most important, we know the logs are missing at least four calls — and important ones, at that — that have become public knowledge in the year since January 6.

The documents appear to exclude calls Trump had with then-Vice President Mike Pence, Representative Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-Alabama) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California). We already know that the latter two occurred during the gap, and the other two might well have.

Trump also requested a number of calls with people with whom calls were never recorded in the logs, including Senator Josh Hawley (R-Missouri), who led the effort to stop Congress from finalizing Trump’s loss, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), whom an aide said

And the final call recorded before the gap—at 11:17 a.m.—lists the other party on the call as an “unidentified person.” It’s the only such call listed, and for some reason it’s featured in Trump’s daily diary but not in the call log (as the other calls are).

Below is a timeline of what is known, based on the White House documents (both the call log and the daily diary) and other key events in the public record (in italics), along with the missing and incomplete call information (in bold).

For brevity, the Post excludes most requests for calls that were soon recorded as having taken place, while keeping requests for other calls that either weren’t recorded or didn’t happen for several hours.

  • 8:34 a.m. — Kurt Olsen
  • 8:37 a.m. — Stephen K. Bannon
  • 8:45 a.m. — Rudy Giuliani
  • 8:56 a.m. — Requests White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows
  • 9:02 a.m. — Requests Vice President Mike Pence
  • 9:16 a.m. — Requests Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) (a call that an aide says the senator declined)
  • 9:24 a.m. — Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio)
  • 9:39 a.m. — Requests Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.)
  • 9:41 a.m. — Giuliani
  • 9:52 a.m. — Stephen Miller
  • 10:32 a.m. — Nick Luna
  • 10:45 a.m. — William Bennett
  • 11:04 a.m. — Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.)
  • 11:11 a.m. — Meets with his children and advisers

 

  • 11:17 a.m. —Call with unidentified person (no end time for call recorded, not recorded at all on call log)
  • Late morning— Pence (during which Trump reportedly tells him: “Mike, you can do this. I’m counting on you to do it. If you don’t do it, I picked the wrong man four years ago.” He adds, according to Woodward and Costa, “You’re going to wimp out!”)
  • 11:38 a.m. — Leaves for “Stop the Steal” rally
  • 12 p.m.-1:17 p.m. — Speech at “Stop the Steal” rally
  • 1:19 p.m. — Returns to White House
  • 1:21 p.m. — Meets with valet
  • 2:11 p.m. — Capitol is breached
  • 2:13 p.m. — Pence escorted from House chamber
  • ??? — House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). (McCarthy has said he was “the first person to contact [Trump] when the riot was going on.” Trump reportedly told McCarthy, “Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.”)
  • 2:24 p.m. — Trump tweets attacking Pence
  • 2:26 p.m. — Mistakenly calls Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) seeking Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.). Lee hands phone to Tuberville.
  • ??? — At least one more call with Jordan. (Jordan has confirmed he spoke with Trump multiple timesthat day. Politico reported this call took place early in the insurrection and featured Jordan and Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida asking Trump to call off his supporters.)

 

  • 4:03 p.m.-4:07 p.m. — Records message to supporters in Rose Garden

 

  • 6:54 p.m. — Requests Dan Scavino
  • 7:01 p.m. — Pat Cipollone
  • 7:08 p.m. — Scavino
  • 7:16 p.m. — Informed of pending calls from five people: Olsen, Mark Martin, Cleta Mitchell, Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.) and Hawley. Trump asks for calls to Olsen, Martin, and Mitchell.
  • 7:17 p.m. — Olsen
  • 7:30 p.m. — Mark Martin
  • 7:40 p.m. — Olsen
  • 7:53 p.m. — Mitchell
  • 8:39 p.m. — Giuliani
  • 9:23 a.m. — Jason Miller
  • 9:42 p.m. — Kayleigh McEnany
  • 9:55 p.m. — Scavino
  • 10:11 p.m. — Meadows
  • 10:19 p.m. — Bannon
  • 10:50 p.m. — Eric Herschmann
  • 11:08 p.m. — Fox News host Sean Hannity
  • 11:23 p.m. — John McEntee

The White House isn’t the only entity to have slow-rolled its disclosure of Trump’s calls with Jordan; so did Jordan, who implausibly claimed he didn’t remember how often he spoke to Trump or when. His office later confirmed there were multiple calls between the two that day, but only one is recorded by the White House.

McCarthy also threatened phone and tech companies that supplied records to the Jan. 6 committee with retribution if Republicans retake the House.

There is no question that information is missing. The question is how much and why. Were people caught up in the moment and not recording things after the insurrection was underway? That seems possible, but certainly these times would seem to call for extra care in recording Trump’s actions.

Perhaps relevant to that question is the call at 11:17 a.m. Not only is the other party not identified (unlike the other calls), but it also features no end time (unlike the other calls) and doesn’t appear in the call log (unlike the other calls). You could certainly make an argument, then, that the gap stretches to nearly eight hours, between Trump’s calls with Perdue at 11:04 a.m. and his request for Scavino at 6:54 p.m.

But also consider this, the Post says: That call would have been listed on the next page of records, if there were such a record. The gap somehow neatly breaks down with the last recorded call—with Perdue at 11:04 a.m.—at the end of one page and the beginning of the next one—the request for Scavino at 6:54 p.m.

Research contact: @washingtonpost

Cheney, Kinzinger call out Trump over Pence comments

February 1, 2022

Representatives Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming) and Adam Kinzinger (R-Illinois) called out former President Donald Trump after he suggested that former Vice President Mike Pence should have overturned the results of the 2020 presidential election, reports The Hill.

Cheney and Kinzinger—who are the only two Republicans serving on the House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol—characterized the ex-president’s comments as un-American.

Cheney outlined a series of Trump’s recent statements in a tweet on Monday, January 31— including his admission that “he was attempting to overturn the election”— before writing, “He’d do it all again if given the chance.”

The Wyoming Republican, who is facing a Trump-backed primary challenger, also noted that Trump previously said he would consider pardoning individuals charged in connection to the January 6 riot if he runs for president again and wins another term in the White House.

Kinzinger on Sunday said Trump’s statement earlier that day was “an admission” and “massively un-American.” He then offered an ultimatum to GOP leaders, calling on them to “pick a side” between Trump or the Constitution.

“There is no middle on defending our nation anymore,” he added in a tweet.

Trump in a statement on Sunday pointed to a congressional effort to reform the Electoral College Act as proof that Pence “did have the right to change the outcome” of the 2020 presidential election.

The former president said Pence “unfortunately” did not “exercise that power,” adding “he could have overturned the Election!” 

Pence’s role in overseeing the certification of the Electoral College vote was, as it is for all vice presidents, largely ceremonial. He presided over a joint session of Congress on January 6 where he recognized GOP senators and House members who objected to the results to the voting count in specific states. That set up votes by the House and Senate to consider the objections.

Trump has long argued falsely that Pence had more power over the process and the mob that stormed the Capitol on January 6 did so thinking they could end the

The former president’s statement comes as the congressional effort to reform the Electoral College Act is picking up momentum, with some lawmakers seeing changes to the archaic law as a compromise between both parties on election reform; which Democrats have been pushing for on the federal level in the aftermath of the 2020 election.

The Electoral College Act was enacted in 1887 and outlines how the Electoral College results are counted. A bipartisan group of senators met last week to discuss changes to the statute.

Research contact: @thehill

Scott Perry says he will not cooperate with the January 6 panel

December 22, 2021

Representative Scott Perry (R-Pennsylvania), a central figure in Donald Trump’s effort to weaponize the Justice Department in support of his false election fraud claims, is refusing to cooperate with the House’s January 6 select committee, reports Politico’s Congress Minutes.

Perry rejected an interview request from the panel on Tuesday, December 21—a day after the committee asked him to appear voluntarily.

In a statement, Perry said: “I decline this entity’s request and will continue to fight the failures of the radical Left who desperately seek distraction from their abject failures of crushing inflation, a humiliating surrender in Afghanistan, and the horrendous crisis they created at our border.”

His refusal sets up a potentially unprecedented confrontation between the committee and a fellow member of the House.

The select panel sent Perry— the recently elected chair of the ultra-conservative House Freedom Caucus—a letter on Monday evening asking for an interview, as well as documents related to its inquiry into the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol and Trump’s efforts to pressure the Department of Justice to intervene in the 2020 election.

Panel Chair Bennie Thompson (D-Mississippi) said in a letter to Perry that they had uncovered evidence linking the Pennsylvania Republican to the meddling at the Department of Justice as well as texts and communications—including over the encrypted app Signa —with then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.

The panel also said it had evidence of Perry’s communications with the White House and others involved with conspiracy theories about voting machines made by Dominion.

Despite legal challenges to the committee’s legitimacy, federal courts have repeatedly found the panel to be duly authorized and pursuing a legitimate legislative goal.

A spokesperson for the committee did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Research contact: @politico