By Einthiri Mudili
After six months of an intense investigation involving interviews with more than 300 witnesses and collection of tens of thousands of documents, the House select committee investigating the January 6th Capitol riot is prepared to release their findings to the public.The nine lawmakers that make up the committee—seven Democrats and two Republicans—have collected and reviewed 35,000 pages of texts, emails, and phone records, in order to assess the critical details of the attack on the Capitol and establish a clear connection between the actions of the former president and the insurrection.
The committee’s first and only public hearing thus far featured disturbing testimony from Capitol police officers who were tasked with handling the violence caused by the insurrectionists.
DC Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone was “grabbed, beaten, tased, all while being called a traitor to my country,” he said. “[I] was at risk of being killed with my own firearm as I heard chants of ‘Kill him with his own gun.'”
Police Officer Daniel Hodges described the rioters as “terrorists” saying they “pushed through the line and engaged us in hand-to-hand combat. ... One latched onto my face and got his thumb in my right eye, attempting to gouge it out. I cried out in pain and managed to shake him off.”
Apart from the public testimonies of Capitol officers, much of the committee’s work has taken place behind closed doors, with an interim report expected in the spring and a final report in the fall. However, the committee has made some of its recent findings public:
The selection committee has “firsthand” knowledge of Trump’s Behavior during the riot
The committee has put special focus on Trump’s conduct in the White House during the riot. After listening to witness testimonies, the selection committee has stated that they have “firsthand” knowledge of Trump's behavior during the riot. One key witness, Vice President Mike Pence’s National Security Advisor Keith Kellogg, was with Trump in the White House when the riot was occurring. According to Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), the committee’s Vice Chairwoman, he had knowledge that former President Trump was sitting in the dining room next to the Oval Office watching the attack progress on television. His daughter Ivanka Trump went in at least twice to ask him to stop the violence, but he ignored her pleas.
The committee has communications suggesting that Fox News host Sean Hannity had advanced knowledge of Trump’s plans for January 6th and that he expressed concerns both to the president and his staff. On December 31, 2020 Hannity wrote to Meadows, “I do not see January 6 happening the way he is being told” and on January 5th, Hannity wrote to Meadows that he was “very worried about the next 48 hours.”
Involvement of Mark Meadows
The committee is in possession of texts sent to Mark Meadows, Chief of Staff at the time, that shed light on Trump’s ignorance of pleas from several lawmakers to stop the insurrection.
According to the text messages relayed by the House Committee, several lawmakers and Trump’s own children unsuccessfully implored Meadows to get Trump to stop the violence unfurling at the U.S Capitol.
“He’s got to condemn this ASAP. The Capitol Police tweet is not enough. We need an Oval Office address. He has to lead now. It has gone too far and gotten out of hand,” Donald Trump Jr. wrote in a message to Meadows.
According to the records, multiple Fox News hosts texted Meadows, urging him to encourage Trump to act immediately:
“Mark, the President needs to tell people in the Capitol to go home. This is hurting all of us. He is destroying his legacy,” Laura Ingraham wrote.
“Can he make a statement? Ask people to leave the Capitol?” Sean Hannity urged.
As congressional Republicans continue to attempt to undermine the committee’s work, the committee is faced with a fast-approaching deadline: if the Republicans win the House majority in the November 2022 elections, they could disband the committee. The clock is ticking on their window to produce an outcome, but the committee has high hopes for the future. “The full picture is coming to light, despite President Trump’s ongoing efforts to hide the picture. I think this is one of the single most important congressional investigations in history,” stated Liz Cheney.