Sunday, October 2, 2022

Jan. 6 committee announces surprise Tuesday hearing, offers few details

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The House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol said Monday it will hold a surprise hearing on Tuesday to “present recently obtained evidence and receive witness testimony.”

It was not immediately clear whom the committee plans to interview and what topics lawmakers intend to focus on. The decision announced on Monday was shrouded in secrecy, with staff and committee members explicitly asked to go dark and not speak with media, according to two people involved with the investigation.

The news was so closely guarded that even some senior committee staff and aides to lawmakers were kept out of the loop as of Monday afternoon. Three people familiar with the investigation said that the secrecy is in part due to credible security threats to a witness.

The committee has remained in negotiations with potential witnesses to appear publicly while the hearings have been ongoing. Vice chairwoman Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) made an appeal to former White House Counsel Pat Cipollone after revealing that the committee had evidence that he and “his office tried to do what was right” and “tried to stop a number of” former President Donald Trump’s plans for Jan. 6.

“We think the American people deserve to hear from Mr. Cipollone personally,” Cheney said, adding that the committee is “certain that Donald Trump does not want Mr. Cipollone to testify here.”

The revised schedule comes several days after the committee announced a brief hiatus to assess new evidence and records obtained by the committee, with plans to wait until after the July Fourth holiday for any further public hearings. The sudden change suggested an urgency and sensitivity around Tuesday’s presentation.

Last week, British filmmaker Alex Holder met with committee investigators behind closed doors and provided over 10 hours of footage to the panel from interviews with Trump, his adult children, former vice president Mike Pence, and from the attack on the Capitol by a pro- Trump mob. The committee has been in contact with new individuals involved in the efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election, including conservative activist Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, who is Justice Clarence Thomas’s wife, as well as Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.).

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Brooks, who lost his Alabama Senate runoff last week, sent an email to the White House five days after the attack on the Capitol seeking a pardon for himself, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) and every lawmaker who “voted to reject the electoral college vote submissions of Arizona and Pennsylvania,” according to evidence presented by the committee. Responding to lawmakers’ repeated requests to appear before the committee, the Alabama lawmaker said he was willing to testify but only publicly.

The hearing on Tuesday is unlikely to focus on topics that have previously been teased by the committee, including a hearing on the extremist groups that stormed the Capitol and another that breaks down the 187 minutes it took for the former president to respond to the violence on Jan. 6, 2021.

Tuesday’s hearing will be the sixth public session for the committee this month. The committee has already told parts of the complicated story of how Trump and his allies tried to overturn the results of the 2020 election. Previous hearings have focused on pressure campaigns targeting state and local officials, Department of Justice leaders and Pence.

The hearings have featured both live and prerecorded testimony from figures in Trump’s own orbit as well as Republican officials, including Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, former Attorney General William P. Barr, and Cassidy Hutchinson, an aide to then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows.

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