15 thoughts on “House Select Committee to Investigate the 1/6 Attack on the U.S. Capitol

  1. Meanwhile, other Republicans respond to the situation much differently

    Here’s how a few described the rioters of 1/6:

    “These are not unruly or dangerous, violent criminals,” Rep. Paul Gosar (Ariz.) proclaimed at a news conference outside DOJ headquarters. “These are political prisoners who are now being persecuted and bearing the pain of unjust suffering.”

    Rep. Louie Gohmert (Tex.) speculated that “we have political prisoners here in America.”

    Apparently, Rep. McCarthy, Rep. Scalise, and Rep. Stefanik are trying to blame Nancy Pelosi for the insurrection on 1/6.

    With the Capitol Dome behind her, Rep. Elise Stefanik (N.Y.), the House Republican conference chair, proclaimed: “The American people deserve to know the truth: that Nancy Pelosi bears responsibility, as speaker of the House, for the tragedy that occurred on Jan. 6.” Stefanik charged that Pelosi “doesn’t want a fair or bipartisan investigation.”

    If this were true, the Republicans would have welcomed an independent investigation.

    Edit

    More reactions from Congressional Republicans:

    It seems like many didn’t even watch the hearings.

    Reasons Republicans have opposed a special commission or committee to study the 1/6 incident:

    But their reasoning has vacillated between warnings that it would be too partisan, to it would impede law enforcement investigations, to it should also look into violence at racial justice protests in several cities last summer.

    As mentioned above, Republicans are trying to blame Speaker Pelosi for the 1/6 riot. However,

    McCarthy did not say whether he felt McConnell had also failed to protect the Capitol in his role as Senate leader at the time.

    He later tweeted out a list of questions he said “Pelosi’s sham committee won’t answer.”

    “Why was the Capitol left so vulnerable that day? Why wasn’t the National Guard here? Why didn’t we have a better security posture? What changes are needed to make sure it never happens again?” he wrote

    I will be shocked if the House Select Committee does not answer these questions. It will be a failure if they don’t. And again, if he wanted these questions answered–if he was confident Speaker Pelosi is to blame–he would have supported an independent commission to study what happened.

    It looks like they know the truth will do great political damage to Trump and the Republicans, so their plan has been to not investigate the incident, hoping the issue will go away. Now that the Democrats are investigating the matter, the Republicans have to find ways to undermine the endeavor. But as Rep. Cheney says, this will cause the 1/6 riot to become a cancer to the republic–we can expect this to happen again, maybe every four years.

    Regarding Senate Republicans,

    The top two Senate Republicans, McConnell and Minority Whip John Thune (S.D.) both said Tuesday they were busy and did not watch the hearing….

    …McConnell pointed reporters to his previous statements condemning the riot and Trump’s role in fomenting it. “I don’t see how I could have expressed myself more forthrightly than I did on that occasion, and I stand by everything I said,” he said.

  2. The House Select Committee held the first of several upcoming public hearings on their findings.

    I didn’t get to watch all of this yet–I missed all of Rep. Thompson’s opening, for example. But here are some random thoughts, off the top of my head, from what I did see.

    • I’m familiar with a lot of the information, but there were some new details. For example, I didn’t realize that some House Republicans sought preemptive pardons from Trump. I also knew of reports that AG Barr rejected the idea sufficient voter fraud to de-legitimize the election, but I never saw him say this (including the use of “bullshit”). I also never saw Ivanka say she accepted the results of the election.
    • Rep. Cheney’s words in this reinforce my impression that she is behaving heroically and patriotically (which wasn’t always the case in my view–but she’s doing it now, and that’s critical).
    • What struck me: Rep. Cheney putting Trump at the center of the attempt to overturn the election. The idea is not shocking. There’s enough reporting and facts to make this likely. But for Cheney to assert this–given that she and the committee have been investigating this–seems like a bigger deal. I don’t think she would say this, unless the evidence is very strong.
    • Relatedly, what worries me is if there are no consequences–political or legal–to Trump and those that aided him in his efforts to overthrow the election.

    I’ll have more thoughts after I watch the whole thing.

    I hope a lot of people are watching this. (My understanding is that Fox News only put this on Fox Business channel, which has a smaller audience. My understanding is that they ran Tucker Carlson’s show–with no commercials.)

    6/10/2022

    I still didn’t watch the entire hearing, but here are more thoughts–some I forgot to add yesterday.

    • I actually gasped when I read these comments from Cheney (tweeted out by a reporter):

      @RepLizCheney says Trump “believed his supporters at the Capitol were -quote – ‘doing what they should be doing.'”She says Trump, aware of the ‘Hang Mike Pence’ chants at the Capitol, said this:
      “Maybe our supporters have the right idea. Mike Pence deserves it.”

      What surprises me is that I read an article a few days ago that reported something similar–although it involved Mark Meadows hearing something to this effect. Here, there’s a specific quote attributed to Trump–and it’s appalling.

      By the way, the sentiments is consistent with something Trump said in an interview with Jon Karl last year:

    • One point I want to make: The worst thing here are Republicans who knew this, and yet failed to impeach and remove him…Actually, that might be the worst. What might be worst are the GOP elected officials and WH staff who may have been involved in helping to overturn the election. (I just heard Rep. Thompson say that they will have testimony of contacts between Proud Boys and people in Trump’s circle.)

      And I can’t forget Rupert Murdoch and other conservative journalists and pundits who have been complicit in aiding Trump and the GOP.

    • There were references to people in the WH talking about invoking the 25th amendment. I remember reports that the Acting Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein, suggested this, but this was a while ago, and I believe he publicly denied this. Crazy to hear another instance of a serious consideration of doing this. (Edit: I just saw a video of Betsy DeVos saying she and other Cabinet officials discussed this–sounds like she was referring to Trump’s lack of effort to stop the insurrectionists.)
    • Another detail that came out (which someone else pointed out): A group of the Proud Boys went over to the Capitol–before Trump’s speech ended, which reinforces the idea that a) there was pre-planning and b) this planning involved stopping the electoral counts

    6/12/2022

    Based on what I’ve been reading, the connection between groups like the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers and people in Trump’s circle seems to be Roger Stone and Rudy Giuliani. (There may be connection with Alex Jones as well, but I don’t think he’d be considered a member of Trump’s circle.) I’ll be curious to see if 1/5 committee points to this connection.

  3. Notes on the first hearing

    • Rep. Bennie Thompson’s opening is very good. Same with what Rep. Cheney says afterward.
    • I’ve seen footage of the storming of the Capitol before, but something occurred to me that hadn’t before. The crowd, or at least some of them had to forcefully enter the Capitol, but they also had to walk quite a long distance to get to the Capitol, pushing down barricades to do so. If the people there were just trying to protest, they could have done so outside of the barricades. But they broke through and traversed a rather far distance, and then broke into the Capitol. Of course, some where saying threatening things like “Hang Mike Pence” and “Where’s Nancy.”
    • I do think Trump’s rhetoric on that day, and even before that day, constitutes inciting violence. The hearing featured several people in the mob say they came because Trump asked them to come.
    • There is an audio of Trump describing the crowd as, “They were peaceful people. They were great people. The crowd was unbelievable. And I mentioned the word love, the love in the air–I’ve never seen anything like it.” This is not enough to break from Trump.
    • I think I forgot to mention this in earlier posts. The hearing featured video clips of General Mark Milley testifying that VP Pence called him and emphatically ordered him to send forces to put down the mob. I don’t think Milley did, because Pence, as VP, doesn’t have that authority. But showing does reinforce the impression that Trump did little to defend the Capitol. (I have read the texts of Trump’s children and supporters urging Mark Meadows, during the Capitol breach, to tell Trump to tell the mob to leave.)
  4. Second hearing (June 13, 2022)

    I don’t think I have much to say about this second hearing…or I have one big thing that’s occupying my mind, crowding out other thoughts.

    They knew–Congressional GOP, party leaders, Rupert Murdoch and many of the pundits who work for him–they knew Trump was lying; they knew these lies were incredibly damaging to our democracy and dangerous to our country.

    Yet, they didn’t sufficiently push back, and in some cases they actively defended him. Even worse, some perpetuated these damaging lies.

    I don’t think this enough Americans have arrived at this truth (or what I think is the truth). It can’t be. If enough Americans realized this, the amount and degree of revulsion and animus towards these people would be off the charts. Or am I wrong?

    Let me put it another way, posing this as a hypothetical. Suppose the members of a president’s party–specifically, the prominent leaders–knew the president was grossly unfit–that he didn’t respect the rule of law or the Constitution and may even be mentally ill, posting a serious threat to the country–but they never made these feelings public, and sometimes defended the president–doing this purely for power and our personal gain. I’m assuming most would agree these individuals would deserve the harshest and most intense contempt. Right? How is this not an egregious betrayal to their country?

    To me, this is how I feel about McConnell, McCarthy, Cruz, Rubio, Graham, Bill Barr, Ronna McDaniel, Matt Schlaap, Rubert Murdoch, and many others. They knew, and put the country danger–and still continue to do so. They were the worst.

    1. I listened to both hearings in their entirety so far. There are a few things worth thinking about from this second one.

      1. Some of the most valid, valuable testimony is from people who are good at their jobs.

      People far away from the White House, like the Fox News elections desk guy, and people inside, like the veteran Republican campaign lawyer, got to their positions because they’re (presumably) competent and professional, and because they have some measure of integrity.

      The shadier element in the White House got ahead other ways. I’m generalizing, but a willingness to play dirty or (giving a benefit of the doubt they don’t warrant) simply mean but within the rules is a way to success in business and elected office.

      The competent, credible people aren’t simply taking stands on principle, although I’m hoping that’s most of it. A lot of what the shady White House people was asking of the competent people required them to shoot down their own established credibility. Why in the world would they do that? The fact that the White House doesn’t seem to grasp this is evidence that they simply live by and play by different rules. They didn’t have to be competent to be successful and they have no professional name to protect or defend.

      2 (related, but tangential). I’m taking an increasingly dim view of success in business and in elected office.

      Not politics in general, because there are a lot of people successful in politics who don’t have to play the same game, but for elected office? It’s just a different way to play and to live, something I’ve thought a lot about since watching a whole season of Survivor several years ago. If you’re not doing whatever you can get away with, you’re not playing to win, and if you’re not playing to win, you don’t belong in the game.

      Depressing, right? It is for me.

      3. People who gave money for the legal costs are as much victims of scamming as senior citizens who turn their retirement savings over in response to some bogus phone call.

      They should be pissed, and we should advocate for them, even if in this case it’s most likely stupidity (and possibly malevolence) and not merely naivete.

    2. If you’re not doing whatever you can get away with, you’re not playing to win, and if you’re not playing to win, you don’t belong in the game.

      I don’t think every politician is doing this, although I’m not entirely clear on what constitutes “whatever you can get away with.”

      A lot of what the shady White House people was asking of the competent people required them to shoot down their own established credibility. Why in the world would they do that? The fact that the White House doesn’t seem to grasp this is evidence that they simply live by and play by different rules.

      Yes, but a lot of competent, well-respected individuals compromised their principles—or they never possessed these principles in the first place. In other words, the dirty individuals, including Trump, had plenty of evidence that they could successfully pressure well-respected individuals into doing bad thing—bad things that will indelibly stain their reputations.

      They should be pissed, and we should advocate for them, even if in this case it’s most likely stupidity (and possibly malevolence) and not merely naivete.

      They should be pissed, but I worry they will obdurately refuse to acknowledge they’ve been conned.

      (Hopefully, I’ll have some thoughts on the 3rd hearing soon.)

  5. 3rd hearing (June 16, 2022)

    (Note: I have only heard portions of the hearing.)

    According to the committee, the focus is on “President Trump’s relentless effort to pressure Mike Pence to refuse to count electoral votes on January 6th.” The committee will attempt to show this occurred in spite of advisers, except for one, telling Trump this Pence could not do this–it was wrong and unconstitutional.

    The adviser, who was the lone exception, John Eastman, a law professor, came out looking really badly.

    Notes

    Rep. Bennie Thompson’s description of what Trump, and his legal adviser John Eastman, were asking Pence to do–namely, “that one man, his own Vice President, could determine the outcome of the election” that the Vice President could “unilaterally select the President” makes clear the absurdity and wrongness of the action. VP Pence, in a previous speech, also expressed this well when he said”…there is no idea more un-American than the notion that any one person could choose the American president.”
    Former judge, J. Michael Luttig, ostensibly a highly respected conservative judge, had some of the most eye-popping statements–for example,

    I have written, as you said, Chairman Thompson, that today, almost two years after that fateful day in January 2021, that still Donald Trump and his allies and supporters are a clear and present danger to American democracy. That’s not because of what happened on January 6th. It’s because, to this very day, the former president, his allies, and supporters pledge that, in the presidential election of 2024, if the former president or his anointed successor as the Republican Party presidential candidate were to lose that election, that they would attempt to overturn that 2024 election in the same way that they attempted to overturn the 2020 election, but succeed in 2024 where they failed in 2020. I don’t speak those words lightly.

    And later,

    I repeat, I would have never uttered one single one of those words unless the former president and his allies were candidly and proudly speaking those exact words to America.

    Just to be clear–by “allies” and “supporters” Luttig also means the GOP. I know this because he clarified this in an NPR June 18, 2022 interview, which I recommend listening to.
    One new tidbit: Trump knew of the riot and then tweeted critical remarks about Pence, possibly endangering Pence even more. To me, it’s clear that Trump intentional incited a violent mob to intimidate Pence and Congress. Even if he didn’t, acts of violence occurred prior to 1/6, with perpetrators citing Trump’s rhetoric (e.g., the El Paso shooter). Any responsible leader would have taken greater care with their rhetoric. This applies now as well. 1/6 occurred–leaders, including those in the GOP, have to be careful with their words. At this point, political leaders and pundits who are not careful are being irresponsible and reckless. For Trump and his allies, I believe they’re continue to foment a mob, as a way to subvert the next elections.
    If the committee wanted Americans to get see how extensive the efforts were, behind the scenes, to overturn the election, I think they’re doing a good job. This notion has been crystallizing for me–not just the extensiveness of the planning, but the degree to which some people were saying it was wrong and/or illegal–making the efforts by Trump and his allies even more egregious.

    More later.

    1. It’s worth hearing it in its entirety, in order. The second half feels like the resolution for the (slowly) rising action of the first half.

      1. It takes a while. I had to go back a couple of minutes several times throughout, to replay stuff I didn’t think I got.

    2. I tried to follow Mitchell’s advice and watch all of the hearing, but I think I missed some of the early part of the hearing. I also listened to the hearing in piece-meal fashion (over the course of several days).

      Here’s some notes I got:

      Greg Jacob, legal counsel for VP
      Marc Short, VP’s Chief of Staff

      Eastman:

      • acknowledged or didn’t respond to the point that Democrats would have noticed this loophole and exploited it in the past (e.g., in 2000)
      • admitted SCOTUS would likely reject the claim that VP could reject electoral votes;
      • admitted he didn’t think Al Gore (in 2000) or Kamala Harris (in 2024) should have this ability—but he thinks Pence should do it anyway;
      • Herschman in a conversation with Eastman: “You believe the VP, acting as the president of the Senate, can be the sole decision maker as to who becomes the next to POTUS?” Eastman: “Yes.” Herschmann: “Are you out of your mind?” Herschmann made point that it was crazy VP could throw out 78 million votes, and that the people wouldn’t accept this; there would be rioting in the streets. Eastman’s response was in effect: There’s been violence in the history of our country to protect our democracy. (In Jacobs’s testimony, Eastman seems aware that the “send it back” approach would cause chaos and possibly violence in the streets. Eastman either finds this acceptable or even desirable.)
      • Committee shows a 2020 memo in which Eastman wrote that VP could not decide the election.
      • Night of Jan 4, Mr. Jacob testified that Eastman was not recommending the VP reject the electoral votes. The next day Eastman made this recommendation. In this conversation, Jacob says Eastman admitted basically the historical incident with Jefferson did not support the notion that VP could reject electoral votes or send them back—but the next day at the rally, Eastman claimed the opposite.
      • While Pence hunkered down with his family and staff, as the rioters ransack the Capitol, Greg Jacob texts John Eastman saying, “Thanks to your bs, we’re now under siege.” Eastman’s response was basically: you’re under siege because Pence didn’t have courage to send back electoral votes.
      • After violence quelled, implored Greg Jacob’s to suspend session and send back electoral votes to the states.
      • Eastman: “I’ve decided I should be on the pardon list, if that is still in the works.”
      • Eastman takes the 5th over a 100 times.

      More notes:

      • Other people knew that VP overturning the election was wrong: Marc Short testifies that he thinks Mark Meadows understood this was not allowed—Meadows acknowledged it a couple of times; Pat Cippolone: said the idea was nutty (based on Short’s and Jason Miller’s testimony); Eric Herschmann: “made no sense;” according to Jason Miller, Mr. Morgan and Mr. Clark “thought the idea was crazy,” and they expressed this before Jan 6 to “anyone who would listen.”
      • Quotes from Woodward/Costa book Peril disturbing: Trump: “If these people say you have to the power (to overturn the votes), wouldn’t you want to?” Pence said he wouldn’t want anyone to have this authority. Trump: “But wouldn’t it be cool?” Pence pushes back on this and says he’s exhausted every possibility to do what Trump wants, but can’t do it. But the next day Trump puts out a message that he and Pence agree that the VP has the power to reject electoral votes.
      • Marc Short, the VP’s Chief of Staff, worries Trump may lash out (inflammatory rhetoric?) at Pence and that may endanger Pence—so much so that Short approaches the Secret Services about these concerns. (Short is on video testifying this.)
      • Jacob testifies Trump never called Pence to check up on him. Pence and his wife were frustrated by this.
      • Cheney says in her closing: “An honorable man, receiving the information and advice that Mr. Trump received from his campaign experts and his staff, a man who loved his country more than himself would have conceded this election. Indeed, we know that a number of President Trump’s closest aides urged him to do so.”
      • Judge Michael Luttig: “I have written, as you said, Chairman Thompson, that today, almost two years after that fateful day in January 2021, that still Donald Trump and his allies and supporters are a clear and present danger to American democracy. That’s not because of what happened on January 6th. It’s because, to this very day, the former president, his allies, and supporters pledge that, in the presidential election of 2024, if the former president or his anointed successor as the Republican Party presidential candidate were to lose that election, that they would attempt to overturn that 2024 election in the same way that they attempted to overturn the 2020 election, but succeed in 2024 where they failed in 2020. I don’t speak those words lightly.
        I would have never spoken those words ever in my life, except that that’s what the former president and his allies are telling us. As I said in that New York Times op-ed, wherein I was speaking about the Electoral Count Act of 1887, the former president and his allies are executing that blueprint for 2024 in open, in plain view of the American public.
        I repeat, I would have never uttered one single one of those words unless the former president and his allies were candidly and proudly speaking those exact words to America. (emphasis added)
  6. Fourth Day (June 21, 2022)

    • For some reason, this might have been the most interesting day for me, maybe because I knew nothing about the Arizona House Speaker, Ray Bowers, and that he gave compelling testimony. Shaye Moss and her mom, Ruby Freeman also gave compelling, viscerally bringing to life the devastating impact on Trump’s attack on them.
    • At some point, especially hearing clips of Trump, the thought popped into my head: This was a scam—the type of flim-flam that is Trump’s M.O.–only he’s applying it to overturning an election. Hearing Trump’s outrageous claims—e.g., many dead people voted, we won by a landslide, etc. This is part of his schtick. Just make up anything, as long as you sound confident and totally convicted in what you’re saying. Having said that, it’s important to note that he’s also pressuring a variety of people to de-certify or find votes, or to say there was fraud, and he’s attempting to get people to do illegal things, even when he’s told its illegal.
    • Like the other hearings, this one again reinforces how comprehensive Trump’s efforts were in overturning the election. For example, there wasn’t one conversation to Bowers—but repeated ones, made by Giuliani, Eastman and even a Congress person from Arizona, Rep. Andy Biggs. (They were pressuring him to hold a session to investigate the election and delay the certification of votes, I believe. He said he didn’t have the legal authority, and refused the repeated attempts.) Additionally, the hearing played a clip of a Trump campaign commercial promoting the falsehoods about the election.
    • Thought: How can patriotic Congressional Republicans remain silent? Rafensberger on why he didn’t quit: “Sometimes moments require you to stand up and just take the shots.” That applies to the Congressional GOP and the GOP party as a whole.
    • More later.

    1. A plot twist I did not see coming, and left me flummoxed.

      From the AP via theAtlantic

      And yet in an interview with the Associated Press published yesterday, Bowers also said he would back Trump if he runs for president in 2024. “If he is the nominee, if he was up against Biden, I’d vote for him again,” Bowers said. “Simply because what he did the first time, before COVID, was so good for the country. In my view it was great.”

      I just can’t wrap my head around the incongruity between the man’s heartfelt and admirable words about his loyalty to the Constitution, the courage he had to keep to his principles, and his decision to vote for a man who would burn down the Constitution. Bowers and his family had first hand experience of this.

      His explanation doesn’t help me. A president could enact all my favored policies, but if he was a serious danger to our democracy (and the world), I would oppose him. I would think Bowers, given his testimony, would agree with me on that.

      If I had to guess, I would say the majority of Bowers’s information comes from conservative news sources–including much of the 1/6 hearings. Believing the latter is a little difficult, but it would make his answer more understandable. To wit, for Bowers, this may be the only time Trump tried to do something so egregiously authoritarian. Bowers may be unaware of all the other instances, or maybe he’s dismissive of them, reasoning that the mainstream press has an irrational hatred of Trump, etc.

      If this is not an adequate explanation, then what is? It doesn’t make sense–I’m stalwart in keeping my oath to the Constitution, but I’ll vote for a good who would violate this oath?

  7. Fifth Day (June 23, 2022)

    Transcript from NPR.

    Key figures:

    Jeff Clark—(Kinzinger) “acting head of the civil division and the head of the environmental and natural resources division at the DOJ” from the environmental section of DOJ; apparently not a criminal attorney, who never conducted a criminal investigation, who Trump wanted to appoint as AG, over Jeff Rosen.
    Jeff Rosen—former acting AG
    Richard Donohue—former acting Deputy AG
    Eric Herschmann—attorney to Trump campaign?
    Steve Engel—head of OLC (Office of Legal Counsel–provide legal advice to DOJ) (Note: Katie Benner from NYT pointed out that Engel wrote a lot of legal defenses for Trump’s actions during the administration–decisions that seem sketchy–but he told Trump he would be forced to resign if Trump appointed Clark as Acting AG.)
    Pat Philbin
    Pat Cippolone-WH counsel

    Notes (some of very raw)

    • I liked that Kinzinger brings up his oath of office, saying if soldiers can put their life on the life, politicians should be able to sacrifice their careers when it comes to integrity and defending the Constitution (or something to that effect). I also liked him explaining the importance of DOJ and the AG’s independence, even though both fall under the POTUS, and then emphasizing this by showing former AGs, from both Republican and Democratic administration, making this point.
    • Donoghue on Clark’s letter (from DOJ to states requesting to de-certify electoral votes) : “a murder-suicide pact. It’s going to damage everyone that touches it And we should have nothing to do with that letter. I don’t ever want to see that letter again.
    • Donoghue: Trump alleged 200,000 votes certified in Penn that weren’t cast.
      DOJ not quality control for elections—that’s state
    • One of several quotes that will go down in history: Rosen: “DOJ can’t and won’t snap its fingers and change the outcome of the election.” According to Donoghue, Trump responded very quickly and “essentially said, That’s not what I’m asking. That’s not what I’m asking you to do. I’m asking you to just say it was corrupt, and leave it up to me and Republicans Congressman.” Trump went further claiming DOJ had an obligation to tell the people that we had an illegal, corrupt election. (This is similar to what he was asking President Zelensky, if I recall correctly. You don’t have to start an investigation on Biden, just say you’re starting one.”)
    • Donoghue: “There were isolated incidents of fraud. None of them came close to changing the outcome of the election in any individual state.”
    • Rep. Scott Perry seems to be the one who introduced Jeff Clark to Trump.

    50 minute mark on

    • I never heard of Ken Klukowski before; helped Jeff Clark draft letter to Georgia, which recommended the Georgia Legislature hold a special session to examine their election made a “proper and valid” choice between candidates and that the General Assembly could make sure one of the slate of electors was sent to Congress; WH lawyer who was assigned to work with Jeff Clark at DOJ on 12/15/2020; he also worked with John Eastman, when he was at WH, and it continued when Klukowski went to DOJ.
    • Steve Engel, from OLC (Office of Legal Counsel—agency that gives legal advice to the AG and WH, more broadly)
    • Sidney (“release the Kraken”) Powell testifies that Trump was going to appoint her as Special Counsel (to investigate election fraud).
    • Trump asks Rosen to seize voting machines
    • Here’s something that ran through my mind as I watched this portion of the hearing: The standard to challenge election, that the GOP seems to accept, is a gut feeling—and that gut feelings may override facts and the law. The POTUS, government official, including on the state and local level, operating this way is acceptable, and not disqualifying or warrant impeachment and removal.
    • Conspiracy theory: Italian defense contractor uploaded software to satellites that could change Trump votes to Biden. 12/31/2020, Meadows received youtube video from Rep. Perry. Donoghue looked at the video, and his reaction: “Pure insanity” and “Patently absurd.” Meadows asked Rosen to meet with the guy (Johnson) pushing that conspiracy theory. Rosen: “It’s been debunked—I won’t meet with him.” Meadows called again: “Johnson working with Giuliani. Giuliani is offended that they’re told to give it to an FBI field office.” Rosen: “Don’t approach me with this again.” Kash Patel, from DoD, called Donoghue: “Do you know anything about this Italy thing?” Donoghue: “We’re not going to have anything to do with it.” Meadows reached out to Christopher Miller acting Def. Secretary, who contacted Italy cournterparts to check on these claims.
    • Jeff Clark—a weasel with gall (told Rosen he could stay on and serve under him)
    • Rosen and Donoghue, before Sunday, 1/3(?), meeting with Trump contacted DOJ department leaders (Ass’t Attorney Generals) to see what they would do if Clark replaced Rosen—all except one said they would resign immediately (one couldn’t be reached). However, Donoghue asked head of national security division not to resign, explaining it was important that he stay on. That AAG (John DeMers?) stayed on because of this request.
    • Trump and Clark talking to each other before this Sunday meeting. WH referred to him as Acting AG of DOJ.
    • In Sunday evening meeting, Rosen, Donoghue and others made the point of how damaging appointing Clark would be to the country, to DOJ, and to Trump.
    • RE: Clark’s competence
      • Donoghue: “And at some point, the conversation turned to whether Jeff Clark was even qualified, competent to run the Justice Department, which in my mind he clearly was not. And it was a heated conversation. I thought it was useful to point out to the president that Jeff Clark simply didn’t have the skills, the ability, and the experience to run the department.
        And so, I said, Mr. President, you’re talking about putting a man in that seat who has never tried a criminal case, who has never conducted a criminal investigation. He’s telling you that he’s going to take charge of the department, 115,000 employees, including the entire FBI, and turn the place on a dime and conduct nationwide criminal investigations that will produce results in a matter of days.
        It’s impossible. It’s absurd. It’s not going to happen and it’s going to fail.
        He has never been in front of a trial jury, a grand jury. He’s never even been to Chris Wray’s office. I said at one point, if you walked into Chris Wray’s office, one, would you know how to get there? And two, if you got there, would he even know who you are?
        And do you really think that the FBI is going to suddenly start following your orders? It’s not going to happen. He’s not competent. And that’s the — the point at which Mr. Clark tried to defend himself by saying, well, I’ve been involved in very significant civil and environmental litigation. I’ve argued many appeals in appellate courts and things of that nature.
        And then I pointed out that, yes, he was an environmental lawyer, and I didn’t think that was appropriate background to be running in the United States Justice Department.
      • Engel: “Yeah. No, I — I think when the president — my recollection is that when the president turned to me and said, Steve, you wouldn’t leave, would you, I said, Mr. President, I’ve been with you through four attorneys general, including two acting as attorney general, but I couldn’t be part of this. And then the other thing that I said was that, you know, look, all anyone is going to sort of think about when they see this — no one is going to read this letter.
        All anyone is going to think is that you went through two attorneys general in two weeks until you found the environmental guy to sign this thing. And so, the story is not going to be that the Department of Justice has found massive corruption that would have changed the result of the election.
        It’s going to be the disaster of Jeff Clark.
        And I think at that point Pat Cipollone said, yeah, this is a murder suicide pact, this letter.
      • Donoghue chimed in: “And I would — I would note too, Congressman, that it was in this part of the conversation where Steve pointed out that Jeff Clark would be left leading a graveyard,…”
      • (emphasis added)

    • On 1/6, Rosen spoke with Cabinet Officials, Capitol Hill Police, Congressional Leadership, VP, but not POTUS. (Rosen: “We — we wound up sending over 500 agents and officers from FBI, ATF, and the U.S. Marshals to assist with restoring order at the Capitol. So, had a number of calls. As I say, it was more or less nonstop all afternoon.” Donoghue: “spoke to Pat Cipollone and Mark Meadows and the vice president and the Congressional leadership, but I never spoke to the president that day.”
    • On Congress persons requesting presidential pardons
      • ERIC HERSCHMANN: I believe so. The — the general tone was we may get prosecuted because we were defensive of, you know, the president’s positions on these things. The pardon that he (Matt Gaetz) was discussing requesting was as broad as you can describe, from beginning — I remember he’s — from the beginning of time up until today for any and all things. Then he mentioned Nixon. And I said Nixon’s pardon was never nearly that broad.”
      • Cassidy Hutchinson, aide to Mark Meadows, mentions or confirms several Congress persons who asked for pardons: Gaetz, Brooks, Greene, Gohmert, Perry.
    • Cheney: And let me also today make a broader statement to millions of Americans who put their trust in Donald Trump. In these hearings so far, you’ve heard from more than a dozen Republicans who’ve told you what actually happened in the weeks before January 6th. You will hear from more in the hearings to come. Several of them served Donald Trump in his Administration, others in his campaign.
      Others have been conservative Republicans for their entire careers. It can be difficult to accept that President Trump abused your trust, that he deceived you. Many will invent excuses to ignore that fact. But that is a fact. I wish it weren’t true, but it is. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I yield back.
  8. Sixth Day (6/28/2022)

    (Note: This hearing was unplanned–the Committee announced this hearing yesterday or a day before. The notes are not comprehensive. At some points, I got so disgusted, and I didn’t want to write anything down.)

    Cassidy Hutchinson, aide to Mark Meadows, WH Chief of Staff (from 2019; previously worked with Steve Scalise and Ted Cruz)
    Tony Ornato, White House Deputy Chief of Staff (security protocols and oversee protection for POTUS, VP and their families and WH staff)

    “mags” = magnetometer (metal detectors used to detect weapons)

    Notes

    • Detail: According to CH, Trump wanted more people to get in to hear his speech—at one point saying, “They’re not going to hurt me. Remove the mags. They can march from here.” Trump places so much importance on crowd size that he may said this primarily to maximize the crowd size, although the “march from here” raises questions if he wanted them armed.
    • During Trump’s speech at the Ellipse, Ornato mentioned to Hutchinson that Capitol police needed more men. (They were being overwhelmed?) Hutchinson tried twice to tell Meadows—he was in a car, she opened the door to tell him, but he closed it twice on her, while he was on the phone—something she claims was a uncommon. Meadows found out 20 minutes later, while Trump was still speaking
    • Many discussions about the Trump’s rhetoric prior to his speech (e.g., “fight for me, fight for the movement”). Herschmann and Cippolone were urging speechwriters not to include that language—for the country and for legal purposes.
    • Re: Trump’s desire to walk with the crowd. CH said Giuliani said that Trump planned to do this.
    • Jan 3, CH: Cippolone told her “we need to make sure this doesn’t happen.” Serious legal concerns if we go to the Capitol that day; urged her to tell Meadows (Cippolone thought Meadows was pushing this idea.) On Jan. 6: “Make sure we don’t go to the Capitol. We’re going to get charged with every crime imaginable.” Days leading up to the 1/6 Cippolone mentioned potential crimes if they accompanied crowd to Capitol–obstructing justice, defrauding the electoral count.
    • Two other WH aides testified that Trump wanted to go to the Capitol after the speech.
    • Kevin McCarthy called CH. CH: Was in the tent behind stage (Ellipse). Sounded rushed, angry at her; he explained, “POTUS is coming to the Capitol. You lied to me. You told me you weren’t coming.” CH: “I’m not lying.” KM: “POTUS just said he’s going.” CH: “We’re not going.”
    • In the car after the rally. CH claims Ornato—while Bobby Engel was sitting down next to them, looking “discombobulated”—retold incident that happened on drive back. Engel said they’re going back to WH, not Capitol. Trump angry—“I’m the effing president.” Then he grabbed steering wheel. Engel said “Sir, you need to remove your
      hand. We’re going back.” Trump lunged at Engel’s clavicle. Cheney points out that Engel was there, hearing Ornato recount this and she asks if Engel corrected or disagreed; and if either Ornato and Engel later said this didn’t happen. CH: No.
    • Kayleigh McNanny: After he got back to the WH, Trump said he wanted to walk to the Capitol—according to her recollection.
    • Jan 5 and 6—Roger Stone photographed with Oath Keepers, his bodyguards. Stone and Flynn took 5th Amendment to community. Trump told Meadows to contact Roger Stone and Gen. Flynn on 1/5 regarding what would “play out on the next day.” CH says that’s her understanding. Giuliani, Eastman, and otherws set up “war room” at the Willard Hotel on the night of the 1/5. Meadows wanted to set up protocols for him to go the Willard. CH told her wasn’t a good idea, appropriate for WH CoS to attend.
    • General Flynn, former National Security Adviser, when asked the following took the 5th–violence on 1/6 justified morally, legally, and if he believed in the peaceful transfer of power.
    • CH testifies: When rioters break into Capitol, Pat Cippolone races to Meadows office. Meadows still scrolling on phone. Cippolone essentially says they need to tell Trump to do something. Meadows: He doesn’t want to do anything. Cippolone: There’s going to be blood on our hands if we don’t do something.
    • CH testifies that Meadows said Trump said, “He deserves it.” and “The rioters did nothing wrong.”
    • Re: hearing 25th Amendment discussion.
    • CH: Giuliani and Meadows sought pardons.
    • Samples from witnesses regarding whether they’ve been approached by people associated with Trump sounds like something from the mafia.

    Side details from Carol Leonnig of WaPo that I found eye-opening, especially the fact that a “large contingent” of Secret Service cheered for Biden to fail.

    Another tidbit in the video: Pence’s head of security told Tony Ornato, Trump’s Deputy Chief of Staff, who is in charge of security for WH (I think), “I know you people. You’ll take him (Pence” to Alaska.” The context was Pence refusing to go into the car when they were escaping from the rioters on 1/6.

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