Politics

Jan. 6 committee conducts likely final interview, chairman says

Washington — The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol is conducting what is likely to be its final interview Wednesday, committee chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson said, as investigators prepare to release a report of their findings before Republicans take control of the House in January.

Thompson told reporters on Capitol Hill that the panel wanted to focus its interview with Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos on a call that former President Donald Trump made to him encouraging him to change the outcome of the 2020 presidential election. Vos told a Wisconsin television station over the summer that Trump called him on July 9 to push him to decertify the results of the presidential election in the state, which President Biden won. 

The call from Trump to Vos came after the Wisconsin Supreme Court barred the use of most drop boxes for voters returning their absentee ballots.

The select committee issued a subpoena to Vos for his testimony in late September, and the Wisconsin Republican sued to block it. House investigators sought to question Vos about his July interaction with Trump regarding overturning the election results, and Thompson said in a letter accompanying the subpoena that the “circumstances and details regarding your interactions with former President Trump related to the 2020 election are relevant” to the committee’s probe.

“We just want to see from the committee’s perspective if there’s any information that we can glean from that,” Thompson told reporters Wednesday, referring to Trump’s call to Vos. 

While the Mississippi Democrat said the committee is not expecting to hear from any more witnesses, he said members would make an “accommodation” if Trump decided to comply with the panel’s subpoena for his testimony.

Committee members voted in October to subpoena Trump for documents and testimony, though he sued in an attempt to block it. That lawsuit likely closed the door to Trump complying with investigators’ demands before the panel is dissolved when Republicans take control of the House.

Still, Thompson said the committee has uncovered information about Trump’s actions surrounding the 2020 election through depositions, which he could only “either verify or deny.”

“He had an opportunity to come before the committee, tell his side. He chose not to, and that, in some instances, is an admission of guilt on his part,” he said. 

The select committee has interviewed scores of witnesses as part of its months-long investigation into the Jan. 6 Capitol assault and Trump’s efforts to stop the transfer of power and remain in office for a second term. The panel’s final report is expected to have eight chapters, Thompson said, and they’ve largely been written.

“Those chapters are being fact-checked and looked at,” he said, though noting committee members have not “gone pens down on the drafts yet.”

Both a printed and digital version of the findings will be released in December, the chairman said. The committee is still weighing whether to issue criminal and ethics referrals, and members are set to meet Friday to discuss the matter and any other outstanding issues. 

“There’s information that we have discovered, uncovered, that we’ll have to make a decision as to what we do with it. Do we make criminal referrals with some of it? Do we make ethical referrals?” Thomson said. “Do we have people who are lawyers who, for whatever reason had unethical conduct — do we look at potential bar charges for those lawyers? So there are a lot of things that we’re working through right now.”

In a letter to Thompson, GOP House Leader Kevin McCarthy reminded him that his chairmanship will end on Jan. 3, and said Thompson and his staff should “preserve all records collected and transcripts of testimony taken during your investigation in accordance with” House rules. McCarthy also wrote that the incoming GOP majority will hold hearings that focus on “why the Capitol complex was not secure” on Jan. 6.

Rebecca Kaplan contributed reporting.

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