National Security

Jan. 6 panel weighs options in final leg of marathon probe

Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) is seen during a House Jan. 6 committee hearing on Tuesday, July 12, 2022 focusing on the ties between former President Trump and far-right extremist groups.
Greg Nash
Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) is seen during a House Jan. 6 committee hearing on Tuesday, July 12, 2022 focusing on the ties between former President Trump and far-right extremist groups.

The House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol huddled on Tuesday to game out the final weeks of its marathon probe but deferred decisions about witnesses and hearings to later in the week.

Speaking with reporters after the panel’s first in-person meeting following the August recess, Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) said the panel would likely hold its next hearing in late September, with its work stretching into the fall and even into the lame-duck session.

“At this point, the goal is the 28th [of September] for the first hearing, and we’re in the process of deciding on a topic,” he said.

“We need to meet or exceed hearings that we’ve had in the past. … It won’t be a repeat of any earlier hearings, and we’re trying to be as strategic as we can in not repeating ourselves.”

“Whatever we do will be new information. Some of it we continue to collect on almost a daily basis,” he said.

Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), another member of the select committee, had one early suggestion. 

“There’s a symphony of different ideas about what needs to be built into that final hearing to complete the story,” Raskin said Tuesday. “And what I’m most interested in is seeing that we explain how a lot of the threats that were manifest on Jan. 6 are still out there today. Some of them have expanded in nature.”

Thompson said an additional October hearing is “not off the table” and that the panel could “absolutely” continue its work past the midterms.

Thompson said any number of topics are still ripe for exploration.

In recent weeks, the committee has interviewed a number of former Trump Cabinet secretaries, including former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, though Thompson said the panel not spent considerable time asking about a 25th Amendment discussion to remove former President Trump from office.

The committee is also still reviewing why a number of Department of Homeland Security texts over Jan. 6, including among Secret Service officers, have gone missing.

Thompson said the panel has not been able to secure an interview with Tony Ornato, who recently retired from the Secret Service after being alleged to have told White House staff that Trump lunged at his security detail.

“If he had stayed an employee of the service, we would have had an opportunity to talk, but now he’s a private citizen,” Thompson said, though the panel has asked to speak with a number of former government officials.

Thompson also said the committee has been in contact with Newt Gingrich’s attorney about its request for a voluntary interview with the former House speaker.

“We’re in the process of working through a response. It hadn’t been turned down, but it’s a process. Well, at least there’s an acknowledgement that he’s aware, through his attorney, that the committee is interested in hearing from him,” he said. 

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (Ill.), one of the committee’s two Republicans, said the panel has “no updates” on whether it will reach out to Trump or former Vice President Mike Pence.

The Justice Department is also separately investigating the events of Jan. 6, including the role played by Trump and those in his inner circle leading up to the rampage. As part of that probe, the department recently subpoenaed roughly 40 members of Trump’s team or close associates of the former president.

That’s led to questions about how — or if — the House select committee will share the evidence it’s gathered over the course of its 15-month probe with the Department of Justice (DOJ).

Raskin suggested Tuesday that the panel has shared no information to date. 

“They’re looking at specific crimes; we obviously have come across a lot of crimes and tried to make that information available to the public through our hearings,” Raskin said. “And the DOJ also has obviously had access to that information.” 

Mychael Schnell contributed.

Tags Adam Kinzinger Bennie Thompson Jamie Raskin Jan. 6 Committee Jan. 6 hearings Trump
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