washington – Destroyed documents. Recommend amnesty for violent thugs. Cabinet officials have quietly discussed whether then-President Donald Trump should be removed from office.
Transcripts of interviews released by House investigators in recent days — more than 100 to date — provide further insight into January 6, 2021, Uprising And in the weeks preceding it, Trump attempted to reverse his defeat in the presidential election.Nine-member committee conducts more than 1,000 interviews, lawmakers gradually make public after releasing hundreds of transcripts summary report last week. The group will disband on Jan. 3, when a new Republican-led House is sworn in.
While some witnesses were more candid than others, the interviews shed light on Trump’s unprecedented plot, the bloody chaos that stormed the Capitol and the horrors of lawmakers and the former president’s own aides as he sought to upend democracy and politics. public opinion.
Some highlights from interview transcripts released so far:
white house aide tells everything
Cassidy Hutchinson, a previously little-known White House aide, drew national attention when she testified in a surprise hearing this summer about Trump’s words and actions in the Jan. 6 attack — His rage over security hampered his efforts to travel to the Capitol that day, and how he knew some of his supporters were armed.
The committee has released four of her closed-door interviews so far, revealing new details about what she says she observed while serving as an aide to then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows. Among other disclosures, Hutchinson told the committee she had seen Meadows burn documents “about a dozen times” in the fireplace in his office. She said she didn’t know what the documents were or if they were legally supposed to be preserved.
A spokesman for Meadows declined to comment on Hutchinson’s testimony.
Hutchinson also speaks at length about her moral struggles in deciding how much to disclose — even conducting research on figures from the Watergate scandal who also testified to have worked in President Richard Nixon’s White House.
“My character and integrity mean more to me than anything else,” said Hutchinson, who decided to return to the committee in June with a new attorney after her first three interviews.
After the uprising, Trump floated the idea of a sweeping pardon for all involved, but then-White House counsel Pat Sippo, according to testimony from Johnny McEntee, an aide who once served as the chief of staff to the president, Pat Cipollone disagreed with the idea and was interviewed by the panel in March.
McEntee recalled that Trump then asked whether to grant pardons only to those who entered the Capitol but did not participate in the violence, but the idea also met some pushback. He said Trump appeared persuaded by the suggestion and said he was not aware of the idea ever coming up again.
Separately, McEntee said Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., told him he was seeking a preemptive pardon from Trump as he faces a federal child sex trafficking investigation. Gates received no such pardon and is not facing any charges related to the investigation.
Hutchinson testified that Meadows’ office was inundated with requests for pardons, so much so that some turned to Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to help broker it.
The group interviewed several of Trump’s cabinet secretaries about the discussion of invoking Section 4 of the 25th Amendment — forcibly removing Trump from office by his own cabinet. While some admit it has been discussed, it never seems like this was a possible scenario.
Former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he spoke briefly with then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo about the idea.
“It came up very briefly in our conversation,” Mnuchin testified in July. “We all thought the best outcome would be a normal transition of power, which works, and none of us have thought about the 25th Amendment in any serious form.”
Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the committee he witnessed a brief conversation between two cabinet secretaries at the White House and heard the words “25th Amendment.” His transcript has not been released, but investigators cited Milley’s interviews with Pompeo and Mnuchin in the interview.
Pompeo told the committee he had no recollection of that conversation. “I would think it absolutely absurd for anyone to talk about the possibility of invoking the 25th Amendment.”
Vice President Mike Pence later dismissed the idea in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, saying the mechanism should be reserved for when the president is medically or mentally incapacitated. Mark Short, Pence’s chief of staff, told the panel that the conversation was “a political game” and a process that would take weeks to play out. “We have 10 days left in government,” Short told the panel.
Trump family testifies
The committee interviewed the former president’s two children, Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump, about conversations they had with their father during and in the days before and after the Jan. 6 attack.
Trump Jr. did not answer many of the committee’s questions, often saying he could not remember events or conversations. He did explain why he texted Meadows when the attack happened on the afternoon of Jan. 6, saying his father needed to “condemn this shit” immediately and that Trump’s tweets weren’t forceful enough. “My dad doesn’t text,” Trump Jr. said.
Ivanka Trump, who was at the White House with her father on Jan. 6, was also vague in many of her responses. That day, she discussed with the committee working with her father on his tweets, encouraging him to make a tough statement as mobs stormed the Capitol. She testified that she overheard an “intense” phone call from Trump’s side with Pence that morning, as her father tried to encourage Pence to oppose the day’s congressional certification. Pence refused to do so.
She also testified that she received calls and texts from Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, while she was at the Capitol and telling her that “the president needs to put out a very strong tweet telling people to go home and stop the violence now .”
“Give me five dead voters”
Trump’s attorney, Christina Bobb, testified that top Trump ally Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, asked some of the former president’s advisers to provide fraudulent Evidence so that he can “support” it. Trump has falsely claimed that there was widespread fraud in the election, even though court rulings and election officials in all 50 states disagree.
Graham told lawyers he was happy to support the cause.
“Don’t tell me everything because it’s too overwhelming,” Bob quotes Graham. “Just give me five dead voters; an example of an illegal vote. Give me a very small snapshot that I can take and get a champion.”
Bobb said he took no action on the information he received. Graham voted Jan. 6 to confirm President Joe Biden’s victory.
National Guard Frustration
Retired Army Maj. Gen. William Walker, who led the National Guard in the District of Columbia at the time, testified that mobs who attacked the Capitol would have faced a harsher law enforcement response had they been composed primarily of African-Americans. Walker is now a House Sergeant in the Armed Forces.
“I’m African-American. A sixties kid,” Walker testified. “I think if those people were African-Americans trying to break into the Capitol, there would be a very different reaction. As career law enforcement officers, as part-time soldiers … law enforcement would respond differently.”
The National Guard arrived at the Capitol hours later, leaving overwhelmed police at the mercy of a violent mob as Pentagon officials said they were sorting out necessary approval paperwork. More than 100 military officers were injured, many seriously, as Trump supporters beat and ran over them to enter.
Walker expressed deep frustration at the delay, but said he didn’t think it was because the insurgents were mostly white.
“I don’t think race is part of the military’s decision-making paralysis,” he said in an interview, adding, “I think they just don’t want to do it.”
extremist group leader
Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio claimed his Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination in response to some questions, and his attorneys sometimes told investigators his client did not belong to an extremist group that The associates now face rare sedition charges in a federal case by the Justice Department. But Tarrio himself told investigators that he became the Proud Boys’ president after a vote was held among the group’s eight “elders.” “I took that title for myself,” he said.
Tario, who was released from prison on the eve of the uprising, did not take part in the attack. But prosecutors allege he had been in command of the Proud Boys who attacked the Capitol and cheered them on from afar.
In “Proud Boys,” he told the panel, “first-degree membership is that you’re a Western chauvinist” and that you “refuse to apologize for creating the modern world.”
Tarrio met with Stuart Rhodes, the founder of extremist group Keeper of the Oath, in a garage before the attack on the evening of Jan. 5. “I still don’t like Stewart Rhodes,” Tarrio said.
Rhodes, who was also interviewed by the panel, was convicted in November of inciting a conspiracy that prosecutors said was an armed insurrection to prevent the transfer of power from the president. Rhodes, who had amassed weapons ahead of the attack, also refused to answer many questions.
Associated Press writers Nomaan Merchant, Farnoush Amiri, Lisa Mascaro and Michael Balsamo contributed to this report.
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