WASHINGTON ( Associated Press) – The House committee investigating the January 6 uprising has interviewed nearly 1,000 people. But the nine-member panel has yet to speak to the two most prominent players in that day’s events – former President Donald Trump and former Vice President Mike Pence.
As the investigation winds up and the panel plans a series of hearings in June, committee members are debating whether to call the two men whose conflict is over who will be Joe Biden. Proof of victory in the 2020 presidential election was at the center of the attack. Trump has pressured Pence for days, if not weeks, to use his formal role presiding over the January 6 count to try to block or delay Biden’s certification. Pence refused to do so, and the rioters who broke into the building that day demanded that he be hanged.
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There are reasons to call either one or both. The committee wants to be as thorough as possible, and if the critics don’t even try, they’re sure to pounce. But some lawmakers on the panel have argued that they have gotten all the information they need without Trump and Pence.
Nearly a year after a comprehensive investigation into the deadliest attack on the Capitol in more than two centuries, a House committee interviewed hundreds of witnesses and obtained more than 100,000 pages of documents. Eyewitness interviews have been conducted in obscure federal office buildings and private Zoom sessions.
The Democratic chairman, Mississippi Representative Benny Thompson, said in early April that the committee was able to validate Trump and Pence too many statements without their testimony. He said there was “no effort on the part of the committee” to summon Pence at the time, although there have been discussions about potentially doing so since then.
Speaking about Pence, Thompson said that the panel “initially thought it would be important” to call him out, but “there are a lot of things that we know that day — we know the people who helped him.” Tried to change my mind. Counting and all that, so what do we need?”
Many of the people he’s interviewing, Thompson said, “are people we didn’t have on the original list.”
The panel, consisting of seven Democrats and two Republicans, has said the evidence it has compiled is enough to link Trump to a federal crime.
Much of the evidence the committee has released so far has come from White House aides and staff — including Cassidy Hutchinson, a former special assistant at the Trump White House, and little-known witnesses such as Greg Jacobs, who served as Pence’s chief counsel. Did. Vice President’s Office. The panel also has thousands of texts from Trump’s last chief of staff, Mark Meadows, and has spoken to the former president’s two children, Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr., who were with their father on the day of the attack.
Among hundreds of others, the committee has also interviewed former White House aide Jared Kushner, Ivanka’s husband, former communications director Alyssa Farah and several Pence aides, including her chief of staff, Mark Short, and her national security adviser Keith Kellogg. Huh. 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 Trump and Pence can answer, including what they talked about on the morning of January 6, when Trump made his final plea to overturn the election for Pence, when he held an election campaign in Congress. presided over the count of the college. Lawmakers have been able to document most of the end of Trump’s call, but not what Pence said in response.
Hours after Trump and Pence spoke, the vice president issued a statement saying he did not have the power to object to the counting of electoral votes. But the president did not agree, and publicly pressured Pence in front of the White House and then on Twitter after his supporters stormed the Capitol.
Still, it is unlikely that the two former leaders will speak to the committee about talks – and it is unclear whether they will cooperate.
While Pence has yet to comment on the committee’s work, Trump certainly will be a hostile witness. He’s contested court investigations, made committee appearances on TV and tried to claim executive privilege over White House papers and any conversations he had with his aides – demands that certainly would have led to his morning with Pence. call will apply.
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Furthermore, calling for a former president or vice president to testify in a congressional investigation is a rare, if not unprecedented, move that could face major legal hurdles and a political backlash.
January 6 The committee has given only a glimpse of what it has found, mostly in court filings where excerpts from the transcripts have been used.
A recent filing by the committee revealed excerpts from interviews with Hutchinson that took place in February and March of this year. That testimony provided new evidence about the involvement of GOP lawmakers in Trump’s attempt to reverse the 2020 election, including a meeting at the White House in which attorneys for the president advised that voters declaring Trump the winner should An alternate slate was not “legally”. sound.”
Another court document revealed the testimony of Jacob, who served as Pence’s main attorney. In a series of emails, Jacob repeatedly told attorney John Eastman, who had been working with Trump, that Pence could not interfere with his formal role and prevent the authentication of electoral votes. Jacob described Eastman as the legal framework he was putting forward to do what was “essentially completely made up.”
Meadows’ texts are also revelatory, detailing how people inside Trump’s classroom urged him to forcefully condemn the attack on the Capitol as it unfolded. Arguments were made on behalf of Trump’s children, members of Congress and even the hosts of Fox News.
“He has to lead now. This has gone too far and got out of hand,” Donald Trump Jr. texted Meadows as protesters breached the security perimeter at the Capitol.
Associated Press Congressional correspondent Lisa Mascaro contributed to this report.