‘Clear and present danger’: January 6 panel to outline Trump’s lingering threat

The panel intends to focus on evidence that Trump “constantly and increasingly ‘used the rhetoric’ that we knew caused the violence on Jan. 6,” the rep said. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) recently told reporters. Cheney quoted Recent Comments by U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson in which she faulted elected Republicans for continuing to indulge “a man, who knows full well he lost, instead of the Constitution he was trying to overthrow “.

The select committee’s closing address to Americans will draw on all aspects of its more than a year-long investigation. He is expected to present evidence that Trump allies were pushing him to declare victory on Election Day 2020 before the votes were even counted, and that Trump was warned about the violence unfolding in the Capitol before tweeting an incendiary attack on then-Vice President Mike Pence.

By claiming that even amid the Jan. 6 wreckage Trump continued to plot ways to stay in power, the hearing will also function as a kind of transition into the criminal case that federal prosecutors are piecing together. — bolstered by the recent release of dozens of grand jury subpoenas and court-authorized searches of some of Trump’s top allies.

The committee has long emphasized its separate mission from prosecutors — to inform the public and develop legislative recommendations to prevent future attacks on the peaceful transfer of power — but has used its platform to pressure the Justice Department to he pursues potential crimes within Trump’s inner circle.

The panel won a hard-fought court ruling in March in which a federal judge argued that Trump had “probably” entered into a criminal conspiracy to obstruct the presidential transition, an effort the judge described as “a coup in search of legal theory.” This decision became a centerpiece of the committee’s public hearings and legal arguments over the following months.

“We believe that we have very, very well proven the case convincingly at the end of this series of hearings”, chose the representative of the group. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) said in a recent interview. “And now, frankly, on the criminal side, because we’re not the criminal committee, it’s up to the DOJ to decide. … They have the torch, and we’ll see where they go with it.

Since leaving office, Trump has used his megaphone to promise pardons to scores of people jailed for storming the Capitol on Jan. 6 and has relied on state lawmakers and members of Congress to pass impossible proposals to unravel the 2020 election – including an explicit call to be reinstated as president.

He also suggested that if he runs and wins another term, he could forgive the rioters who have sought to keep him in power, and he has lobbied figures such as Wisconsin House Speaker Robin Vos. , to support moves to decertify election results in that state. Vos told Trump that was impossible, and the select committee subpoenaed him to obtain testimony about his interactions with Trump in recent months.

The hearing was originally scheduled for September 28, but the select committee postponed it as Hurricane Ian was battering Florida; the delay may prove to be a boon for the panel. Within two weeks, the committee obtained testimony from Virginia Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. And last week, Jeremy Bertina leader of the North Carolina Proud Boys who also interviewed the select panel, pleaded guilty to seditious conspiracy.

Thursday’s hearing will likely feature some of the selected panel’s evidence obtained after its summer hearings, such as interviews with members of the Trump cabinet about internal discussions regarding the potential invocation of the 25th Amendment to remove him from power. It is also expected to include documentary footage of longtime Trump ally Roger Stone, who was followed by a camera crew in the weeks leading up to Jan. 6.

Footage of Stone, provided by a Danish film crew and obtained by CNN, includes audio of Stone – a day before Election Day – saying to an associate, “To hell with the vote, let’s get straight to the violence,” while laughing.

Select panel chair Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) also described a significant trove of documents and messages recently turned over by the Secret Service. Investigators viewed the agency with skepticism after learning that thousands of messages sent among senior officials – including on and around January 6, 2021 – were deleted in what the agency described as an upgrade technological.

Two Secret Service officials have previously testified before the panel: Robert Engel, Trump’s retail chief, and Tony Ornato, who held an unusual position as Trump’s political appointee to the White House. Ornato retired secret service end of August. But members of the select committee suggested the two men said they could not recall key details of the events surrounding January 6 and requested follow-up interviews with them.

The committee is likely to take a look at some of the links between extremist pro-Trump groups – like the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys – and Stone. Investigators have observed the voluminous ties between Trump and those who facilitated almost every aspect of the former president’s push to overturn the election, though there is little evidence of Stone’s direct involvement in those. efforts.

Yet several figures in Stone’s orbit were among the most significant actors in the events of January 6: Ali Alexander, founder of post-election activism “Stop the Steal”; pro-Trump InfoWars broadcaster Alex Jones; the national president of the Proud Boys, Enrique Tarrio; and Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes.

Stone also hired several members of the Oath Keepers to provide security on January 5 and 6, 2021 — among them Kelly Meggs, who is charged alongside Rhodes with seditious conspiracy for their involvement in the Capitol breach. Another oath keeper guarding Stone, Joshua James, has previously pleaded guilty to seditious conspiracy.

The hearing will take place alongside the Justice Department’s largest criminal trial to date following the Jan. 6 attack. Just across from the Capitol, five leaders of the Oath Keepers, including Rhodes, begin their trial for seditious conspiracy.

The select committee is also deeply immersed in the process of writing its final report and conclusions. Although interviews and aspects of the investigation are still ongoing, the panel is seeking to produce a final document in December that summarizes its sprawling investigation before the end of the current Congress. Investigators are also assessing the timing of the release of hundreds of witness transcripts and interview recordings that federal prosecutors have expressed interest in.

Zach Montellaro contributed to this report.

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