Jan. 6 committee promises to zero in on Trump’s ‘dereliction of duty’
Lawmakers serving on the Jan. 6 select committee investigating the Capitol riot promised on Sunday that upcoming hearings would continue to examine former President Trump’s culpability in the attack plus reveal further details about GOP lawmakers who sought pardons for their role in attempting to overturn the 2020 election.
Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Va.) told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that the panel has assembled a “comprehensive tick-tock timeline” of Trump’s role that day as well as his inaction in calling off the rioters sooner.
“[Y]ou know, this man had the microphone; he could speak to the whole country. His duty was to stand up and say something and try to stop this. So, we’ll talk about that and what I see to be his dereliction of duty, and he had a duty to act,” Luria said.
At last Thursday’s primetime hearing, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), one of two Republicans on the panel, suggested for the first time that GOP House lawmakers had sought pardons from the Trump White House for their role in overturning the election.
Details about that have been scant since, but Luria said more information about those efforts would be revealed in upcoming hearings. When asked if lawmakers had “hard evidence” of the requests, Luria said: “We do.”
It’s unclear how many lawmakers sought the pardons, but Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), who is also on the panel, said on CNN’s “State of the Union” it was more than one.
“It is multiple members of Congress, as the vice chair said, at our opening hearing,” Raskin said. “And, all in due course, the details will surface.”
When co-host Dana Bash asked if investigators had evidence, Raskin replied: “everything we’re doing is documented by evidence.”
On Wednesday, the committee is expected to focus on the Justice Department and Trump’s attempt to influence it to help him overturn the 2020 presidential election results.
“[W]hat I think is going to become clear across the compilation of these hearings is that, you know, this seven-part plan we’re going to lay out was every lever of government.” Luria said. “They were attempting to use those and, you know, whichever one they could pull and would have some influence, they moved forward with it.”
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) on Sunday told Martha Raddatz on ABC’s “This Week” the panel had “very powerful” evidence that Trump’s lies about the election inspired the Jan. 6 mob. He also said they will show a “connection” between white nationalist groups and members of Trump’s orbit.
“What’s important, again, is the broad context of all of this, the knowledge prior to Jan. 6, that there were going to be violent white nationalist groups, assembling along with others on that mall,” Schiff said. “And the decision by the president nonetheless to incite that mob and do nothing while that attack was taking place.”
Last Thursday’s hearing prompted some Republicans to speak out against Trump on Sunday, despite the always looming threat that the former president may retaliate against them.
Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.) slammed Trump for not stopping the rioting during an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press,” while Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) told “Fox News Sunday” guest host Bret Baier that Trump was personally responsible for the rioting on Jan. 6, even if he has not been held criminally liable.
“Trump is politically, morally responsible for much of what has happened, but in terms of criminal liability, I think the committee has a long way to go to establish that,” Hutchinson said, adding that Jan. 6 was a “costly error” for democracy. “Republicans need to do a lot of soul searching as to what is the right thing here and what is the right thing for our democracy in the future and not simply adhere to the basic instincts of some of our base.”
In the first hearing, the panel showed members of Trump’s inner-circle, including his daughter Ivanka Trump and former Attorney General Bill Barr, agreeing that no election fraud had occurred.
They also shared disturbing videos of the attack on the U.S. Capitol, which pitted rioters against police officers, and presented testimony from Caroline Edwards, a U.S. Capitol Police officer who was knocked unconscious during the attack, which she described as “carnage.”
Nick Quested, a documentarian who filmed the rioting and members of the far-right group the Proud Boys, also testified before the panel. He explained what he and his crew captured on video, including a secret meeting between Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio and Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes in a parking garage.
Quested on Sunday told NBC’s “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd that he was aware he and his crew filmed “multiple crimes” on Jan. 6.
“I’m used to covering conflicts abroad and I can process that and I can separate that from my life. But to see it from the country I live in was particularly problematic,” he said on NBC. “I think America has become so divided, I don’t know if there is commonality anymore.”
Both Rhodes and Tarrio have been charged with seditious conspiracy, a rarely used charge that accuses the militia leaders of conspiring to overthrow the U.S. government.
On CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), the other Republican serving on the committee, agreed with the notion that the panel’s work extended far beyond just the day of the riot that included building a bigger argument centered on Trump’s efforts to overturn the election.
But Kinzinger, who is not running for re-election, said he did not believe the committee’s public-facing work would change much if Trump were to run again and be re-elected
“The thing that is most concerning to me is nothing has changed. The only thing that has changed since January 6, if they want to run that play again, they will put more loyal people into the administration earlier on. It is important for the American people to see this, to take ownership over this, and make a decision what kind of country we want to live in.”