by Marie Claire Jalonik | The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — The House committee investigating the Capitol uprising has so far interviewed nearly 250 people, its chairman said Thursday, a staggering pace in just five months as lawmakers compile the most comprehensive account of the violent attack. and plan to hold further public hearings. Year.
Members and staff have conducted interviews in private, and most witnesses have appeared voluntarily. The committee has summoned more than 40 people, and lawmakers say only two have defied their demands so far. The investigation began in late July.
Representative Benny Thompson, D-Miss, said in an interview that the committee turned down a variety of people from former President Donald Trump’s administration and members of the White House to election officials in key swing states such as Georgia, Arizona, Michigan. Is. And Pennsylvania has been pressured by the former president and his allies as they advance false claims of electoral fraud.
Looking ahead to next year, the vice president, Republican Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, said that the committee anticipates it will be “several weeks of public hearings, set in vivid color for the American people exactly what every minute of the day.” It happened in January 6, here at the Capitol and at the White House, and what was the reason for that violent attack.”
Seeing his work as a significant correction to a growing propensity among Republicans and others to lay siege by Trump supporters, lawmakers are moving to eliminate before the 2022 elections. . The violent crowd echoed Trump’s false claims that he won the election, beating police as they broke down and sending lawmakers for their lives when they obstructed Joe Biden’s certification of victory.
The committee’s seven Democrats and two Republicans argue that no less than democracy is at stake as Trump considers a second run for office and as many Americans still believe his false claims of widespread election fraud, Even if they have been rejected by the courts. and election officials across the country.
“History is watching,” Cheney told his fellow lawmakers at a hearing on Tuesday as he discussed the committee’s plans.
Another member of the panel, California Representative Adam Schiff, said that “it’s really important to highlight all the blame and bloodshed that has happened here,” especially as some people still believe Trump’s baseless claims.
The hearing, Schiff said, “will tell the full story of security at the Capital, leading to intelligence attacks – or lack of intelligence – the role of social media, the role of the former president, the role of those around him, and it’s in a narrative fashion.” So that the public follows exactly what is going on.”
Thompson and Cheney revealed the number of private interviews and plans for hearings next year to hear on contempt charges against Jeffrey Clark, a former Justice Department official who served as the judge for 2020. Supported Trump’s efforts to reverse the election results.
The January 6 committee voted to recommend charges against Clark on Wednesday, but scheduled a second statement with Clark for Saturday. Lawmakers say they will decide later whether to proceed with contempt charges.
Lawmakers presented their case on Clark in anticipation of a floor vote on contempt for not answering questions on Saturday. Clarke appeared for a statement last month, but declined to be interviewed, citing Trump’s legal efforts to block the committee’s investigation.
Clark’s attorney now says he wants to enforce his Fifth Amendment Act against self-incrimination. Thompson said the lawyer had offered “no specific basis for that claim.” Thompson said he sees it as a “last attempt to delay the select committee’s proceedings”, but said members would listen to him. The committee wants Clarke to request the Fifth Amendment on a question-by-question basis contrary to his earlier statement when he and his attorney abruptly left.
If the committee decides after the statement that Clark is still defying the subpoena, the House could vote on the contempt charges as soon as next week. The Justice Department will then decide whether to prosecute.
The department has made clear that it is ready to advance contempt charges to the committee, having convicted Trump aide Steve Bannon on two counts of criminal contempt last month.
According to an October report by the Senate Judiciary Committee, which interviewed several of Clark’s aides, Trump’s pressure on the Justice Department culminated in a dramatic White House meeting in which the president asked Clarke to be promoted to attorney general. Told about Trump did not do so after several aides threatened to resign.
The Senate report said Clark met with Trump in person and pushed his then-supervisors, Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and his deputy Richard Donoghue, to publicly announce that the department was investigating election fraud. and directs some state legislatures to appoint new voters. Rosen and Donoghue are also interviewed by the 6 January committee.
Trump, who told his supporters to “fight like hell” on the morning of the riots, has sued to block the committee’s work and attempted to assert executive privilege on documents and interviews, argues Giving that their private conversations and actions of that time should be preserved from public view.
In a transcript released this week of Clark’s November 5 aborted interview, committee members and staff tried to persuade Clark to answer questions. But Clark’s attorney, Harry MacDougald, said during the interview that Clark was protected not only by Trump’s claim of executive privilege but also by a number of other privileges MacDougald claimed Clark should be afforded.
The committee rejected those arguments, and MacDougald and Clark dropped out of the interview after nearly 90 minutes of discussion.
Maryland Representative Jamie Ruskin, who sits on the committee, said the panel would assess whether Clark’s responses on Saturday met his standards of compliance.
“If he thinks he’s going to be able to wave the magic wand with the Fifth Amendment the way he tried to wave the magic wand with executive privilege, it won’t work,” Ruskin said.
Associated Press writer Eric Tucker contributed to this report.