The most high-profile congressional probe since Watergate concluded Thursday that former President Trump deliberately made false claims about the 2020 election and provoked a mob of his supporters to attack the US Capitol.
The long-awaited, 845-page, eight-chapter report from the House Select Committee scheduled for February 6, 2021, the insurgency provides a roadmap for potential criminal charges against Trump and others.
Written in a narrative style rather than the dry, bureaucratic tone that characterizes most investigative reports of this magnitude, the document expands on the story the Committee set out in its televised hearings earlier this year, describing ” a multi-pronged plan to overthrow the 2020 presidential election” and finally to blame “one man” for the uprising.
The committee voted Monday to forward its findings to the Justice Department for possible prosecution. The panel recommended four state charges against Trump, including assisting, assisting or consoling those involved in a riot.
The Justice Department is conducting its own investigation into the 1st 6 attacks in which five people died.
“As you read this report, please consider this: Vice President Pence, along with many of the appointed officials who surrounded Donald Trump, worked to thwart many of the worst parts of Trump’s plan to overturn the election,” the deputy said Committee Chair Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) wrote in the report’s foreword. “It wasn’t a certainty. It is reassuring to assume that the institutions of our republic will always stand up to those who seek to defeat our constitution from within. But our institutions are only strong when those who hold office are loyal to our Constitution.”
In a post on his Truth Social platform late Thursday, Trump responded that the committee deliberately misinterpreted what happened. He falsely accused House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) of the 6/14 violence.
“The highly partisan Unselect Committee Report deliberately fails to mention Pelosi’s failure to comply with my recommendation to deploy troops to DC, to show the ‘peaceful and patriotic’ words I used, or to state the reason for the protest was voter fraud investigate. WITCH HUNT!” he wrote.
The report begins with a description of the weeks leading up to the election and detailed evidence that Trump intended to declare victory on election night, regardless of what the results showed.
Stephen K. Bannon, who served as Trump’s 2016 campaign manager, previewed the plan on Oct. 14. August 2020, when he told a private audience that Trump would take advantage of the way Americans vote to “declare himself the winner.” More Democrats vote by mail than Republicans, almost ensuring Trump appears to lead before all the votes are tallied.
The report also documents the efforts of Trump and his allies to reverse his loss to Joe Biden and details their many trials and appeals to state legislatures.
The committee estimates that Trump and his team have approached state legislators or election officials at least 200 times, both publicly and privately. Trump held a meeting with “nearly 300 state legislators from battleground states” where he “urged them to exercise what he called “the real power” to do before 6/1,” the committee noted.
In Arizona, Trump and his attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani attempted to pressure Arizona House Speaker Russell Bowers to hold a public hearing aimed at replacing the state’s voters with loyalists voting for Trump would.
“They are asking me to do something against my oath and I will not break my oath,” Bowers said.
Giuliani replied, “Aren’t we all Republicans here? I mean, I think you would listen to my suggestions a little more openly.”
The report highlights the campaign by Trump’s allies to pressure Justice Department officials without explaining evidence that the election was stolen.
Those efforts culminated when Trump threatened to replace Jeffrey Rosen, the acting attorney general, who had refused to sign a factually incorrect letter urging state legislatures to review their election results. Jeffrey Clark, the director of the Justice Department’s civil division, agreed to sign the letter. Trump wanted to give Rosen’s job to Clark, but backed out when even dozens of appointed Justice Department officials threatened to resign.
The document also details how Trump and his legal team pestered Vice President Mike Pence with the false theory that he had the power to refuse state election votes. It explains that Pence rejected this theory on the grounds that the Founding Fathers did not give a politician the power to overturn a national election.
“As the post-election period unfolded, as their other plans failed, the importance of January 6 and the need to pressure Vice President Pence increased,” the report said.
Trump and his allies continued to publicly pressure Pence into attempting to block confirmation of Biden’s victory, even during the 1.6 rally at the Ellipse, which prompted chants of “Hang Mike Pence” during the attack on the Capitol .
The report concludes by describing how Trump called thousands of supporters to Washington with a tweet urging them to “get involved, going wild,” whipping them up during his speech at the Ellipse, and then spending 187 minutes, in a Sitting in the White House dining room and watching as the mob stormed the Capitol, ignoring family members, aides, Republican politicians and members of the media who urged him to intervene.
As the crisis unfolded, Trump continued to tweet but dismissed calls for the violence to calm down. Finally, three hours into the attack, Trump issued a statement on camera urging the crowd to leave.
“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,” committee chair Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) wrote in the report’s foreword.
The 18-month investigation collected more than 1,000 testimonies, including from many of Trump’s top advisers, cabinet officials and family members, and more than 1 million documents.
Thompson said Monday that most of the non-sensitive material compiled by the panel would be released before the end of the year. Thompson did not say how many documents would be released or what would be considered sensitive.
The report, which is expected to mark the bipartisan committee’s final act, lists 11 recommendations, including changes in Capitol Police oversight; new protections for poll workers; and to officially declare the riot an insurrection so that those who took part in it would be barred from office under the Fourteenth Amendment.
The panel has already approved the revision of the Electoral Count Act, the law that Trump and his allies tried to exploit to stay in power. The House of Representatives is scheduled to finally approve this overhaul on Friday.
The document also includes four appendices on topics such as the funding behind Trump’s 1.6 rally and the intelligence errors that made the attack possible.
Republicans, who are entering the House of Representatives on March 1, have said they do not plan to continue the committee’s work. In fact, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield), the frontrunner who will become the next speaker, said Republicans could own the workings of the Jan. 6 committee. The committee’s recommendations are unlikely to gain traction under Republican scrutiny .
That left the Jan. 6 panel scrambling to release its report and potentially millions of pages of underlying evidence in less than two weeks.
This lack of time can be seen in the final report released late Thursday. For example, it contains a reference to the Federal Bureau of Intelligence instead of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The date of publication of the report is prominently displayed on the cover as “00. December 2022”. Nonetheless, the report provides the most comprehensive summary of the facts surrounding the January 14 events to date. 6, 2021.
In a 30-page appendix, the report details the failures of intelligence agencies and law enforcement agencies, which have generally overlooked or ignored signs that extremist groups responded to Trump’s Jan. 12 tweet inviting them to Washington on Jan. 1. 6 as a call to organize and prepare for violence. Getting to the bottom of these intelligence errors was one of the main responsibilities assigned to the committee when it was created by the House of Representatives.
“Although some of this information was fragmentary, it should have been sufficient to justify far more vigorous preparations for the security of the joint session. Failure to adequately share and act on this information put the lives of law enforcement officers defending the Capitol and all within it at risk,” the committee wrote.
The committee blamed the hour-long delay before National Guard troops arrived at the Capitol in part on a caution by senior military leaders about involving the military in suppressing domestic protests.
“Trump’s eagerness to commit the US military to playing a visible role in dealing with domestic unrest in late spring and summer 2020 appears to have prompted senior military leaders to take precautionary measures in preparation for the joint meeting.” , says the report. “While the delay appears unnecessary and unacceptable, it was the by-product of military processes, institutional caution and a revised deployment authorization process.”
Earlier Thursday, the committee released the latest in a series of more than three dozen interview transcripts. The revelations in those documents included details of an apparent pressure campaign by Trump’s allies on one of the committee’s key witnesses, former White House staffer Cassidy Hutchinson.
Stefan Passantino, the Trump-aligned attorney who originally represented Hutchinson, had instructed her to downplay her knowledge of White House machinations, including Meadows’ role in strategy development, and told her to stop conversations she overheard or that she had heard of or did not confirm details of what happened during the uprising, Hutchinson told the committee in two-day testimonies in September. Passantino has denied wrongdoing.
Times contributors Freddy Brewster, Arit John, Kimbriell Kelly and Courtney Subramanian contributed to this report.