The first anniversary of Jan. 6th riot at Capitol by supporters of former President Donald Trump is fast approaching. The House select committee investigating this matter could have a huge year ahead of it in 2022.
The Jan. 6 select panel interviewed more than 300 witnesses behind closed door doors, including officials from state and local elections who claim they were under pressure by Trump’s campaign. It also reviewed approximately 35,000 pages of documents–notably, text messages to and from Trump’s last White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows.
The nine-member committee consists of seven Democrats as well as two Republicans. It was created by Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who blocked Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) from appointing GOP members to the House.
McCarthy and other Republicans have challenged the legitimacy of this committee, its tactics, as well as its partisan imbalance.
Here are six things that you can expect over the next week.
1) Televised Hearings, Interim Report
In 2022, the committee which has been largely operating as a grand jury gathering information will come out in the open with hearings via TV.
Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), Chairman of the Select Committee, stated that the panel is currently considering prime-time hearingsTo maximize exposure
“The public needs to know, needs to hear from people under oath about what led up to Jan. 6th, and to some degree, what has continued after Jan. 6,” Thompson told Bloomberg News.
The committee plans to release interim report in the spring or summer of its findings and a final report in the fall—ahead of the November 2022 midterm elections.
The Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol led to the second impeachment of Trump, in which a bipartisan House charged him with “incitement to insurrection.”
2) Wide-ranging Scope
The committee is looking into more than the riot and whether there was any planning. It is also investigating the possible steps that Trump, his campaign and legal team, as well as members of Congress, might have taken to prevent the certification of his successor, President Joe Biden.
The Conservative Action Project condemned the committee’s involvement in matters unrelated the riot, with more than 70 signatures from prominent conservative leaders.
“At the outset of the committee’s formation, Chairman Bennie Thompson sent letters to 35 telecom, email, and social media companies instructing them to preserve call details, text messages, location records, and the content of posts for a list of individuals, which reportedly include members of Congress, members of the Trump family, and a host of regular Americans who may have been ‘otherwise involved’ – in what, it is not clear,” the Conservative Action Project statement says. “The records request, which is supposedly related to the events of January 6th, for some reason goes all the way back to April 2020.”
The statement continues:
In short, Thompson issued a surveillance order for a secret list of people who haven’t necessarily done anything wrong, and who Democrats want to be prohibited from knowing that the intimate details of their digital lives are being harvested by Congress.
The committee has since escalated its violations by referring criminal contempt charges to the Department of Justice for those who refuse to comply–including, for example, for former Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Clark, whose actions have no demonstrated connection to the events of January 6th.
The [Justice Department]Despite receiving many criminal contempt charges over the years, despite not having pursued one in 40 years, he has never been charged with criminal contempt. However, he has issued charges against him in a clearly partisan manner. [former Trump campaign and White House adviser]Steve Bannon.
The committee is investigating whether rioters tried to block the Electoral College election count and whether they wanted to obtain the electoral ballots.
Thompson said, “That it was an organized effort to change the outcome of the election by bringing people to Washington … and ultimately, if all else failed, weaponize the people who came by sending them to the Capitol.”
The FBI concludedThere was no evidence that Trump supporters coordinated the attack on Capitol Hill in August. The FBI found that followers of extremist groups Oath Keepers and Proud Boys had aimed to break into the Capitol, but didn’t have any plans of what to do when they got there.
Reuters quoted an FBI official saying: “Then you have 5%, maybe, of these militia groups that were more closely organized. There was no grand scheme. [Trump campaign adviser]Roger Stone [webcaster] Alex Jones and all of these people to storm the Capitol and take hostages.”
The committee has already interviewed election officials from the closely contested 2020 states of Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, and Pennsylvania about Trump’s pressure campaign, the Associated Press reported.
The panel also will look at the money funding the “Stop the Steal” rallies and events that happened after the election leading up to Jan. 6, The Washington Post reported.
3) Legal and Legitimacy questions
The committee could be subject to legality and legitimacy issues.
The Conservative Action Project referenced the Supreme Court’s 1957 ruling in the case of Watkins v. United States, which said, “There is no congressional power to expose for the sake of exposure” or to engage in conduct “where the predominant result can only be an invasion of the private rights” of individuals.
“Not content with bullying and threatening anyone who does not comply to their satisfaction with whatever the committee decides it wants, the committee is now threatening subpoenas against their own House colleagues, a wild and unprecedented breach of protocol, decorum, and House tradition, as well as an assault on the constitutionally protected ‘speech and debate’ clause rights of members of Congress, and thus on the Constitution itself,” the Conservative Action Project statement says.
Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., has said he would not talk to the committee, tweeting, “I stand with immense respect for our Constitution, the rule of law, and the Americans I represent who know that this entity is illegitimate, and not duly constituted under the rules of the U.S. House of Representatives.”
Under House tradition, the leadership of both parties appoint members of a committee–with the breakdown usually decided on a proportional basis, based on how large the majority-minority party ratio is. In this instance, the House has 213 Republicans and 222 Democrats. This would suggest a 5-4 split. However the committee has 7 Democrats and 2 Republicans, all appointed and chosen by Pelosi.
McCarthy initially appointed five members to the committee. However, Pelosi blocked Jim Jordan (Ohio) and Jim Banks (Indiana). McCarthy withdrew all other appointments in a retaliatory manner. Pelosi appointed antiTrump Republicans Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), the vice chairwoman of the select committee, and Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), to give the committee the patina for bipartisanship.
Thomas Jipping, senior legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation, stated, “House Resolution 503 gives Speaker the authority to appoint Members. She is not bound by House Rules to allow the minority leader.
Additionally to Perry and Jordan the committee reportedly wanted to talk with McCarthy; and Reps. Mo Brooks and Paul Gosar, R.Ariz. Trump was also contacted by Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Tommy Tuberville (R–Ala.).
But, a congressional committee could ask another question if it seeks to compel testimony by another member of Congress. The executive branch and the judiciary are under the control of Congress.
“My instinct is that, no, a committee cannot compel a member to testify, and I have a hard time believing that they would try. That would be a nasty precedent to set,” Jipping told The Daily Signal.
“More specifically, I suppose it might depend on what the committee would want to question the member about, since the Speech and Debate Clause protects members from being questioned in ‘any’ place about ‘speech or debate’ which has been interpreted to encompass anything in the ‘sphere of legitimate legislative activity.’” Jipping added. “So, it depends whether what the committee would want to question them about falls in this category.”
4) Potential Witnesses
Fox News host Sean Hannity was the most recent target of the committee. Thompson & Cheney sent a letter to the prime-time TV commentatorI asked him to provide information. This was all that was needed for a subpoena.
The letter quoted a Dec. 31, 2020, text from Hannity to Meadows that said: “I do NOT see January 6 happening the way he [Trump]is being told. After the 6th. [sic]He should announce that he will lead the nationwide effort for reforming voting integrity. Go to [Florida]Watch Joe [Biden]Do not make mistakes every day. Stay engaged. When he speaks, people will listen.”
Apparently failing to get Trump to drop his challenge to the election results, Hannity sent another text on Jan. 5, 2021, that said, “I’m very worried about the next 48 hours,” as quoted in the Tuesday letter from Thompson and Cheney to the Fox News personality. Hannity sent a text message to Meadows in December asking him to stop the riot.
Hannity’s lawyer, Jay Sekulow, said a subpoena could violate free press concernsHowever, the committee members claim Hannity is a fact witness.
The House voted in contempt to find Bannon guilty of contempt of Congress for failing to cooperate with the committee. He was indicted by a federal grand jury.
Bannon pleaded not guilty in contempt of court. said his case would be “the misdemeanor from hell for [Attorney General] Merrick Garland, Nancy Pelosi, and Joe Biden.”
Meadows might be subject to similar House actions.
Meadows and Bannon argue that Trump has invoked executive privilege so they cannot fully cooperate.
In the meantime, the committee has taken an unusual step of seeking testimonyFrom Perry and Jordan.
On Jan. 2, Cheney said there is new evidence that the 45th president’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, asked him to intervene while the attack on the Capitol was occurring.
“We have firsthand testimony now that he was sitting in the dining room next to the Oval Office, watching the attack. The briefing room at the White House is a mere few steps from the Oval Office,” Cheney told ABC News. “… We know Leader McCarthy was pleading with him to do that. We know his daughter—we have firsthand testimony—that his daughter, Ivanka, went in at least twice to ask him to please stop this violence.”
5) The potential for criminal referrals
The members of the Committee stated that they intendto refer criminal matters to the Justice Department. That has the potential to include the former president–even though it’s not clear what he would be charged with.
Trump has asked for the Supreme Court’s review of his claim. executive privilegeto not give information to the committee. It’s not entirely clear how much of a claim to executive privilege a former president has, said Curt Levey, president of the Committee for Justice, a conservative legal group.
“It depends on whether you view the need for executive privilege to protect state secrets or to encourage candid conversations,” Levey told The Daily Signal.
Harry Litman, a former Clinton Justice Department official, recently wrote in the Los Angeles Times about Trump’s potential prosecution for seemingly doing nothing.
“Criminal liability generally requires the combination of intent and action, which is why omitting to act typically doesn’t land you in jail,” Litman wrote. “But when a defendant has a legal duty to act and does not, the principle gives ground.”
He wrote that even if Trump “anticipated merely a peaceful rally at the Capitol on Jan. 6,” he had responsibility in setting the rally-turned-riot in motion.
“In Trump’s case, the indictment sheet would cite not only Title 18, U.S. Code, Section 2, which proscribes aiding and abetting a crime, but also Section 1512, which makes it illegal to obstruct or impede (or to try to obstruct or impede) any official proceeding—including Congress’ certification of a presidential election,” Litman wrote.
In a statement Tuesday, announcing the cancellation of his Jan. 6 press conference, Trump again called the panel the “unselect” committee, and brought up various questions it should ask.
“This is the Democrats’ Great Cover-Up Committee and the [media are] complicit. Why did Adam ‘Shifty’ Schiff forge and change the statement of Congressman Jim Jordan without any consequence?” Trump’s statement said.
“Why will Crazy Nancy Pelosi not provide her communications with the House Sergeant-at-Arms and the House Chief Administrative Officer, or promise to retain these vital messages, which many feel she has already destroyed—perhaps illegally?” Trump continued. “Also, why is the primary reason for the people coming to Washington, D.C., which is the fraud of the 2020 Presidential Election, not the primary topic of the Unselect Committee’s investigation? This was, indeed, the Crime of the Century.”
6) Legislative Proposals
In what might likely spark controversy comparable to the passage of the USA Patriot Act, the Jan. 6 committee reportedly plans to recommend improving U.S. intelligence gathering, to ensure “this will never, ever happen again,” Thompson said.
A joint Senate reportThe Homeland Security and Rules committees identified intelligence and other security problems that contributed to the Capitol’s insecure security during the riots.
Trump reportedlyPentagon officials were informed that 10,000 National Guard troops might have been needed to secure Capitol Hill on the day of the rally. The request was not honored by either Pelosi or Defense Department officials.
Other proposals may be less controversial depending on the details.
According to reports, members of the committee are considering recommending changes in the Electoral Count Act. This 19th-century law governs how Congress counts Electoral College votes. The law allows members to object to votes that have been certified by the states. The Washington Post reported that legal scholars on both sides of the aisle support either reforming or scrapping this law. reported.
The committee proposes legislation to improve coordination of resources to protect U.S. Capitol., Thompson said.
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