January 6: Committee points ultimate report

US Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) carries the committee’s final report as he arrives after the final public session of the US House of Representatives Select Committee investigating the January 6 attack on the US Capitol on Capitol Hill in Washington, USA , leaving on December 19th. 2022.

Jonathan Ernest | Reuters

The Jan. 6 House Select Committee released its long-awaited final report on Thursday, concluding an 18-month investigation into the 2021 burglary of the US Capitol by a violent mob of supporters of former President Donald Trump.

The damning 845-page report came three days after the bipartisan committee voted unanimously to refer Trump to the Justice Department for a criminal investigation and possible prosecution over his efforts to reverse his 2020 election defeat by President Joe Biden.

Among the recommendations are that congressional committees with such authority should consider creating a “formal mechanism to consider whether to bar Trump from holding any future federal office because of evidence that he has violated his constitutional oath.” to support the US Constitution while taking part in an insurrection.

The report comes weeks after Trump announced he will seek the Republican nomination for president in 2024.

“Our country has come too far to allow a defeated President to transform himself into a successful tyrant, upending our democratic institutions, fomenting violence and, as I see it, opening the door to those in our country whose hatred and bigotry threaten equality and justice for all Americans,” wrote the committee’s chair, Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., in a foreword to the report.

Committee vice chair Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyoming, wrote in her own foreword, “Every President in our history has defended this orderly transfer of authority but one.”

“January 6, 2021 marked the first time that an American president refused his constitutional duty to peacefully transfer power to the next,” Cheney wrote.

The first of the report’s eight chapters is titled “The Big Lie,” a reference to Trump’s repeated false claims that he won the election.

This chapter notes that even before Election Day, Trump made efforts to “delegitimize the electoral process” by suggesting that it would be marred by voter fraud, particularly related to postal voting, the use of which is due to the Covid-19 -pandemic has been expanded.

The second chapter, titled “I Just Want to Find 11,780 Votes,” details Trump’s attempt to undermine the Electoral College, the body that actually picks the winner of the presidential election based on candidate vote gains in individual states and parts of the two states .

The title refers to what Trump said to Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in a Jan. 2, 2021 phone call, in which the President pressured Raffensperger to take steps that would invalidate Biden’s popular victory in that state.

This chapter also details the widespread campaign by Trump and his allies to get Republican-controlled legislatures in states won by Biden not to confirm election results or to replace electoral college electoral lists.

“The Special Committee estimates that in the two months between the November election and the January 6 riot, President Trump or his closest circles were involved in at least 200 apparent acts of public or private publicity, pressure or condemnation, either on state legislatures or targeted the state or local election officials to overturn the results of state elections,” the report said.

“This included at least: 68 meetings, attempted or connected phone calls, or text messages, each directed to one or more state or local officials; 18 cases of prominent public statements using language aimed at one or more of these officials; and 125 social media posts by President Trump or senior advisers that are explicitly or implicitly directed at one or more of those officials, and mostly from his own account,” the report said.

Pro-Trump protesters gather in front of the US Capitol in Washington, DC on January 6, 2021.

Jon Cherry | Getty Images

The next few chapters outline how Trump and his allies attempted to provide Congress with alternative lists of voters for him, rather than the actual lists Biden won, and their efforts to get the Justice Department to cast doubt on the integrity of the election and to persuade then-Vice President Mike Pence refuses to certify the voting boards of several states’ Electoral Colleges.

The plan to pressure Pence was to throw the decision of who would win the election up to the House of Representatives. Although Democrats held the majority of seats in that chamber at the time, Republicans could have given Trump the win because they provided the majority of state delegations, each of which receives a single vote under the system.

The last three chapters focus on the preparations for the Capitol riots, Trump’s “dereliction of duty” by refusing to fight off the mob, and an analysis of the attack on the Capitol.

Cheney noted in her foreword to the report, “What most of the public didn’t know prior to our investigation is this: Donald Trump’s own campaign officials told him early on that his allegations of fraud were false.”

“Donald Trump’s senior Justice Department officials — each appointed by Donald Trump himself — investigated the allegations and repeatedly told him his allegations of fraud were false,” Cheney wrote.

“Donald Trump’s White House attorneys also told him his fraud allegations were false. From the start, Donald Trump’s cheating allegations were fabricated nonsense designed to exploit the patriotism of millions of men and women who love our country.”

In its January 6 recommendations, the committee called on the Senate to pass the Electoral Count Act, which the House of Representatives has already passed. The law would reiterate that a vice president has no authority or discretion to reject an official list of presidential elections presented by their state governors.

The panel also said that courts and disciplinary bodies that regulate lawyers’ behavior “should continue to evaluate the behavior of lawyers described in this report.”

“Lawyers should not have the discretion to use their statutory licenses to undermine the constitutional and legal process for the peaceful transfer of power in our government,” the report said.

In a recommendation entitled “Violent Extremism,” the report states: “Federal agencies with intelligence and security responsibilities, including homeland security, should… move forward on state-wide strategies.
ties to counter the threat of violent activity posed by all extremist groups, including white nationalist groups and violent anti-government groups, while respecting the civil rights and First Amendment civil liberties of all citizens.

Members of the Oath Keepers militia group among supporters of US President Donald Trump on the steps of the US Capitol in Washington, January 6, 2021.

Jim Castle | Reuters

The Jan. 6 panel has already begun sharing its evidence with the DOJ, which last month appointed a special counsel to investigate whether Trump or others unlawfully interfered with the transfer of power to Biden.

Without Trump’s encouragement, the January 6 uprisingwould never have happened,” said panel chairman Thompson in an interview with MSNBC earlier Thursday. “It would have been the normal rotation of power that we do every four years in presidential elections.”

“Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, but under no circumstances do you tear down City Hall or the courthouse and, God forbid, the United States Capitol,” Thompson said. “It was just something that I think was unimaginable to most Americans … And there are still a lot of people who can’t understand why our people would do that.”

Both the DOJ and House investigations focus on the events of Jan. 6, 2021, among other things, when hundreds of Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol, forcing lawmakers and Pence to flee the chambers of Congress.

Vice President Mike Pence (R) is accompanied by Sgt. at arms Michael Stenger (L), from the House of Representatives to the Senate in the U.S. Capitol after a challenge was raised during the joint session to certify President-elect Joe Biden in Washington, U.S. January 6, 2021.

Mike Theiler | Reuters

The invasion disrupted a joint session of Congress held to confirm Biden’s electoral college victory.

Pence, who chaired that session, resisted pressure from Trump and others to refuse to accept the electoral college slates of several swing states that had given Biden his lead to victory.

The House Committee conducted more than 1,000 witness interviews, including interviews with Trump’s assistants and White House attorneys, several of his adult children and his close allies. The panel also assembled hundreds of thousands of documents as part of its investigation.

Trump spread false claims of voter fraud before and after the 2020 election and pursued numerous attempts to reverse his loss to Biden in the weeks following Election Day. His public campaign for this culminated on January 6, 2021, with a rally outside the White House where he urged the crowd to march with him to the Capitol to urge Congress to reverse the election results.

US President Donald Trump arrives in Washington, DC on January 6, 2021 to speak with supporters of The Ellipse near the White House.

Brendan Smialowski | AFP | Getty Images

Trump never marched to the Capitol, instead spending hours inside the White House while his supporters attacked police inside and outside the Capitol and swarmed through the Congress Halls. Trump did not publicly ask the mob to leave the Capitol by late afternoon that day, although he was urged to do so by senior White House officials.

“You are the Commander in Chief. You have an attack underway on the US Capitol and nothing happens?” General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testified before the House Committee.

“No call? Nothing? Zero?” Milley added.

In its vote Monday, the committee referred Trump to the DOJ for possible prosecution for four crimes, including conspiring to defraud the US and inciting a riot.

Separately, a Georgia state grand jury is gathering evidence for a criminal investigation into Trump by the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office for his attempt to subdue Georgia election officials to reverse Biden’s election victory in that state.

Trump is also under investigation by the DOJ for removing government documents, some of which are top secret, from the White House when he left office.

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