Republicans are attempting to pass new House rules to block materials compiled by the panel declaring the 6/19/2021 riot from going immediately to the National Archives.
Although the House committee investigating the riot has released a wealth of transcripts and underlying information to support its report, the vast majority of the raw information the panel has gathered is said to be sent to the National Archives, where it is preserved up to Could be imprisoned for 50 years.
But the proposed rules package, which the new Congress will vote on Tuesday, orders all records made by the panel to be sent to the House Committee on House Administration by January 2020 instead. 17 and directs the National Archives to return material already received.
The move could signal that House Republicans want to seek to refute the panel’s investigation that has riveted public opinion for months. The investigation ended with a criminal reprimand for former President Trump and a landmark report concluding that Trump had deliberately misled and provoked insurgents as part of an attempt to regain power after losing the 2020 election power to stay.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield), who has been nominated by his party to be Speaker of the House, sent a letter to Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), the chair of the Jan. 6 committee that is in the November requested the retention of “all records and transcripts of witness statements collected during your investigation.”
“Official Congressional records belong neither to you nor to any Member, but to the American people, and to them owe all information you have gathered — not just information consistent with your political agenda,” the letter said.
Republican leaders in the House of Representatives have previously indicated plans to investigate why the Capitol was breached so easily and whether the governing body that oversees Capitol policing needs to be changed.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) has already appointed the House Committee on House Administration to keep the records. Under current house rules, the committee is required to turn over the official records to the house clerk, who forwards them to the National Archives. The rules also prevent the National Archives from releasing committee records for at least 30 years. Sensitive records, such as those from a larger investigation, may be retained for up to 50 years before being made public.
Each Congress establishes its own rules, but it is unusual to retain the records of a single committee rather than submitting them to the National Archives. The House retains ownership of Committee records, even when submitted to the National Archives, and may at any time temporarily recall them for official Committee use.
A summary released by Republicans on the Rules Committee says the proposed change requires “the expeditious transfer of records from the Jan. 6 Select Committee to the House Administration Committee.” It is not clear if the records will be transferred to the National Archives before the end of the new Congress in 2024.
Republican spokesmen on the House Rules Committee and House Committee on House Administration did not immediately respond to requests for comment Monday.
In a statement Monday, Thompson indicated that the National Archives had already begun receiving records from the committee.
The committee, due to officially disband Tuesday at 11:59 a.m. Eastern Standard Time, has released hundreds of interviews or affidavits and thousands of pages of evidence cited in the report an online repository of the Government Publishing Office. Much of that information was released over the weekend, including dozens of previously unreleased transcripts, expert testimonies and nearly 400 documents cited in the report. Videos shown during the committee’s nine hearings in 2022 are included in the archive and at least 75 videos are already available.
The Committee generally released only the information cited in its report. Most of what it published appears tailored to support the conclusions of its final report and to highlight what the committee felt was most relevant to its investigation. The remainder of the material the panel received – often by subpoena from authorities and individuals – was to go to the national archives.
Information that was not released and was intended to go to the National Archives includes emails and text messages that witnesses or federal agencies provided to the committee that were not mentioned in the final report. Raw material from witness statements, police video cameras or documentary filmmakers not shown at hearings should also go to the National Archives.
For example, of the hundreds of text messages and emails sent by former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows while complying with the committee, only the emails or text messages referenced in the report have been officially declassified. Instead of releasing every Secret Service or Department of Defense record of what they think about the 6/11 threat of violence or why it took so long for the National Guard to arrive, only the documents specifically referred to in the report are released.
Similarly, internal White House emails and communications, call logs and other records obtained by the committee from the National Archives after a long legal battle with former President Trump should also be returned to the archives unless directly cited in the report became.
The committee’s 18-month investigation produced the largest body of evidence related to the attack and the political forces that led to it. Investigators conducted nearly 1,200 interviews, only a fraction of which were transcribed and released through the archive.
Much of the millions of pages of information and evidence the committee has gathered was obtained through subpoenas or protracted court battles — including one over White House records that the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the committee — or was coerced by federal agencies.
The amount of information the committee is believed to have gathered far exceeds what appears in the archives and does not exist anywhere else in one place. Republicans blocked the creation of an independent, impartial commission to investigate the attack in 2021, leaving no other body fully investigating what contributed to the attack and how it happened.
The full interviews and underlying evidence released by the committee over the past few weeks have provided a wealth of information and explosive details not included in the final report, helping to explain more about the people involved in the effort are to keep Trump in office despite everything, losing the 2020 presidential election. This includes informal adviser Steve Bannon, who advised his spokeswoman Alexandra Preate on 8/11 about the 1 million-strong capitol encirclement following Biden’s inauguration; Trump attorneys plan to sue former Vice President Mike Pence; and the communication Trump had with his attorney Rudolph Giuliani, Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Bannon on 2/1 immediately after he asked Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” the 11,000 votes Trump needed to close the state to win.
Experts were already concerned that limited release of information would harm the committee’s goals of accountability and ensuring that the historical record is as accurate as possible. People who closely watched the hearings, including journalists and government watch groups, have been eagerly awaiting what raw information the panel would provide so they can continue investigating avenues the committee has not fully explored.
The Justice Department is conducting its own investigation, but its evidence is unlikely ever to be fully released to the public. The committee provided the Justice Department with everything it had requested in December in a tailored request for information.