House Jan 6 Committee Releases 34 Inquiry Protocols

The House Inquiry Committee on Feb. 1, 2021, delayed the release of its final report on Wednesday, but provided new details with the release of 34 transcripts of statements made during its investigation.

Many of the transcripts released are from lesser-known figures who played behind-the-scenes roles in former President Trump and his allies’ attempt to overthrow the 2020 presidential election, although the list includes some of the biggest names involved such as California attorney John Eastman, who Architect of Trump’s legal theory, which posited that the vice president could oppose certain states’ voters.

Almost all of the witnesses in the published affidavits pleaded the Fifth Amendment at some point in their testimony in response to questions from committee members and staff showing what the panel was hoping to learn and what dots they were attempting to connect. For example, the committee asked Trump confidant Roger Stone if he had spoken about January 1st. 6 and strategies for the day during a Dec. September 2020, meeting with Trump at the then President’s home in Florida.

Committee Vice Chair Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) asked Stone if he ever called Trump on the former president’s personal cell phone. Stone invoked the 5th Amendment. She asked if he thought violence on January 6 was “justified.” He again invoked the 5th Amendment.

Stone even invoked his 5th Amendment rights when asked about his age and address.

The committee wanted to know from Eastman what emails and phone numbers he used to discuss the 2020 election, where he stored any documents related to the election, and if he would provide specific documents, such as a seven-page paper , which he had written that Rudolph W. Giuliani told Georgia lawmakers during a Dec. 3, 2020, state Senate Judiciary hearing. The House Jan. 6 committee also asked whether Eastman reached out to state legislators after the election.

Investigators also asked detailed questions about a memo Eastman wrote about the vice president’s role in confirming election results. They noted that he had discussed his memo in media interviews with the President’s permission, although he invoked the 5th Amendment in conversations with investigators.

Eastman was the only person, aside from Trump, whom the committee referred by name to the Justice Department for possible charges related to the panel’s investigation.

Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn invoked the 5th Amendment on almost every issue, including its role in planning and strategy, to find evidence of post-election fraud.

However, Flynn responded when asked if he knew why Trump pardoned him after he confessed to lying to the FBI about communicating with Russia.

“Because I think he saw my whole case as a farce of justice,” Flynn said.

Former Trump attorney Jenna Ellis was pleading on the 5th when asked about a number of people mentioned in her transcript of privileged materials she withheld from the committee, including documents related to Trump’s former chief of staff Mark Meadows and adviser Stephen K Bannon.

Ellis answered questions about her efforts to obtain materials to fulfill the committee’s subpoena, but declined to answer more detailed follow-up questions. For example, she invoked her 5th Amendment right when asked why, of the 350 text messages she sent to Meadows between 3/19/2020 and 1/13/2021, only 35 were listed in her privilege log.

Ellis gave the committee a number of affidavits and statements regarding voter fraud allegations, but cited the 5th when asked if she or anyone else associated with Trump attempted to investigate the allegations in those documents . She also declined to answer questions from the committee about whether there was a plan to create a fake voter roll ahead of the September 2020 election.

Among the lesser-known people whose transcripts were released were former White House staffer Garrett Ziegler, who had acted as a conduit for those trying to prove fraud after the election; and his boss, former White House trade adviser Peter Navarro.

Ziegler invoked the 5th Amendment in response to almost every question the committee asked, including questions about the so-called Green Bay Sweep, a procedural strategy devised by Navarro and Bannon to get Republican congressmen to force lengthy debates over the validity of certain die State election results lead to an attempt to pressure state legislatures to review their results and potentially give Trump the vote.

Wednesday’s release included just a portion of the more than 1,000 statements made during the committee’s 18-month investigation, which ends with the release of the final report. Republicans are not expected to reconstitute the committee after taking control of the House of Representatives on 3/1.

The final report, which the committee planned to release on Thursday, is expected to include evidence not presented at the committee’s nine public hearings this year, as well as detailed descriptions of the plan advanced by Trump and his allies to overturn the results of the presidential election 2020

Times contributor Freddy Brewster contributed to this report.

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