Jan. 6 committee releases final report

The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol released its highly anticipated final report Thursday night, capping off the panel’s year-and-a-half-long probe.

The report, which spans 845 pages, was made public three days after the committee held its final meeting and unveiled several criminal referrals targeting former President Trump. During that presentation, members voted unanimously to adopt the expansive body of work.

The final document includes eight chapters, an executive summary and a list of 11 legislative recommendations, all of which are part of the committee’s responsibility of investigating the events surrounding Jan. 6 and putting forward suggestions to prevent a similar event from happening in the future.

“This report will provide greater detail about the multistep effort devised and driven by Donald Trump to overturn the 2020 election and block the transfer of power,” Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), the chairman of the committee, wrote in a foreword in the report.

“Building on the information presented in our hearings earlier this year, we will present new findings about Trump’s pressure campaign on officials from the local level all the way up to his Vice President, orchestrated and designed solely to throw out the will of the voters and keep him in office past the end of his elected term,” he added.

The report was initially set to publish on Wednesday, but the committee punted the release to Thursday. The panel did not give a reason for the delay, but the announcement came a few hours before Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky delivered an address to a joint meeting of Congress.

The body of work largely details arguments and evidence the committee laid out during its series of public hearings this year. But for the first time, the panel outlined its full slate of legislative recommendations, including one that seeks to bar Trump from holding office in the future under the 14th Amendment.

The panel argued that Trump should not be allowed to serve in government office because the constitutional amendment prohibits people who “engaged in insurrection” from holding such posts. The committee pointed to Trump’s impeachment by the House on incitement of insurrection, cited the 57 senators who voted to convict him and referenced its criminal referral to the Justice Department on a similar charge.

The committee also recommended increased subpoena enforcement for Congress and more aggressive oversight of the Capitol Police, among other suggestions.

The release of the final report marks the final act of the committee’s sprawling investigation, which has been ongoing since the panel was created in the summer of 2021.

The group held 11 public presentations, interviewed more than 1,000 witnesses and poured over thousands of documents during the past 18 months to understand the events before, on and after Jan. 6.

As a precursor to the publication of the report, the panel made its final public presentation on Monday, during which members voted on criminal referrals to the Justice Department that target Trump.

The panel recommended that the agency investigate Trump for inciting, assisting or aiding and comforting an insurrection; obstructing an official proceeding; conspiracy to defraud the United States and conspiracy to make a false statement.

The referrals, while symbolic, do not have any legal heft because the Justice Department is not required to investigate recommendations from congressional committees.

But they nonetheless marked a significant moment in the committee’s quest to make its case to the American people that Trump was at the heart of a conspiracy to keep himself in the White House.

“In the Committee’s hearings, we presented evidence of what ultimately became a multi-part plan to overturn the 2020 Presidential election,” the report reads. “That evidence has led to an overriding and straight forward conclusion: the central cause of January 6th was one man, former President Donald Trump, whom many others followed.”

“None of the events of January 6th would have happened without him,” the report added.

Ahead of the release of the final report, the committee published the transcripts of a number of witness testimonies — including two conversations the panel had with Cassidy Hutchinson.

During those discussions, the former aide to Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows detailed an effort by what she referred to as “Trump World” to lessen the effect of her testimony and hold back information from investigators.

The referrals and release of the report and transcripts come at a particularly tenuous moment for Trump, whose third bid for the White House is struggling to pick up steam amid poor polls and mockery over a new business venture involving digital trading cards.

Updated Dec. 23 at 12:41 a.m.

McConnell on Jan. 6 criminal referral of Trump: ‘Entire nation knows who is responsible for that day’

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Monday issued a terse response to the House Jan. 6 select committee’s decision to refer criminal charges against former President Trump to the Justice Department.  

“The entire nation knows who is responsible for that day. Beyond that, I don’t have any immediate observations,” McConnell said in a statement reacting to the House panel voting to refer four criminal charges against Trump to prosecutors in connection to his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. 

The committee, made up of seven Democrats and two Republicans, recommended the Justice Department investigate Trump for inciting insurrection, obstructing an official proceeding, conspiring to defraud the United States and conspiring to make a false statement.  

The panel also recommended a formal ethics investigation of the role that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and several allies — Reps. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), Scott Perry (R-Pa.) and Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) — played on Jan. 6 and in the days before.

McConnell's statement responding to the action on the other side of the Capitol was bolder than those from some members of his leadership team.

Retiring Senate Republican Policy Committee Chairman Roy Blunt (Mo.) said he “had no idea” of the details of the referral.  

Incoming Senate Republican Conference Vice Chairwoman Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) said, “I never heard of Congress instructing [the Justice Department] in that way."

She said the committee’s work was “obviously politicized.”  

McConnell denounced Trump on the Senate floor in February 2021 after the former president was acquitted on the impeachment charge of inciting an insurrection.  

“There is no question that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of that day,” McConnell said, after voting to acquit the president on the technical grounds that he no longer held the office.  

Since then, McConnell has regularly declined to comment when asked what responsibility Trump bore for spreading the unsubstantiated belief that the 2020 presidential election was stolen.  

Jan. 6 committee launches ethics complaint against McCarthy, other GOP lawmakers

The House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol escalated its clash with Republican lawmakers on Monday, recommending a formal ethics inquiry into House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) and other top allies of former President Trump for their refusal to cooperate with the probe.

The recommendations to the House Ethics Committee mark a milder step than the criminal referrals to the Justice Department that the select committee made Monday against Trump and several members of the former president’s inner circle for their role in the Capitol riot. 

But as a political matter, the ethics complaints will shine a bright light on the actions of McCarthy and three other prominent House Republicans — Reps. Jim Jordan (Ohio), Scott Perry (Pa.) and Andy Biggs (Ariz.) — in the lead-up to and the aftermath of the attack. Those actions ranged from attending Jan. 6 planning meetings with Trump at the White House, as Jordan had done, to having conversations with the then-president in the midst of the riot, as McCarthy had done. 

The committee had initially requested that those four lawmakers, among others, appear voluntarily before the panel. When the Republicans refused, the panel issued subpoenas for their testimony in May, almost a year into the sweeping investigation into Trump’s efforts to remain in power after his 2020 defeat. 

None of them complied with the inquest, arguing the select committee was, from the start, a political witch hunt orchestrated by Trump’s adversaries — most notably Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) — to damage Trump’s chances of winning another term in the White House. Heightening those accusations, Trump last month announced his entrance into the 2024 presidential race.

During Monday’s gathering on Capitol Hill, the last in a long series of public forums to air its findings, the select committee argued that ignoring congressional subpoenas — even for sitting lawmakers — sets a dangerous precedent that will hobble Congress’s powers to function effectively as an oversight body.

It’s unclear if the Ethics panel will launch an investigation based on the select committee’s new recommendations. Unlike most other standing committees, membership on the Ethics panel is evenly divided between the parties. And the committee strives — at least rhetorically — to avoid the divisive partisan politicking that practically defines some of the other panels. 

Yet with just weeks left in the 117th Congress, there’s a small and closing window for the committee to launch any new probes while Democrats are still in the House majority. And it’s unlikely that a GOP-led Ethics panel would take the remarkable step of investigating the role of sitting Republicans in an event as polarizing as the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. 

Indeed, in a sign of how partisan Jan. 6 has become, McCarthy — who is vying to become Speaker next year and has outsize influence over committee chair spots — is vowing to investigate the Jan. 6 investigation as a first order of business in the new Congress.  

Heading into Monday’s forum, panel members seemed resigned to the idea that they had little recourse against McCarthy and the other Republicans who refused to cooperate in the short window before the panel sunsets.

"We don't have a lot of time right now," Rep. Adam Kinzinger (Ill.), one of the two Republicans on the select committee, told reporters last week. "That's the reality of where we're at."

By their own telling, each of the Republicans has information pertaining to the Jan. 6 attack that is relevant to the investigation. 

McCarthy had called Trump from the Capitol amid the attack, urging the president to call off his supporters, and he later went to the House floor to say Trump bore responsibility for the rampage. But despite initially supporting an outside investigation into the riot, McCarthy reversed course after Trump opposed the idea. 

Jordan, another close Trump ally, was among the most vocal proponents of Congress’s effort to overturn Trump’s defeat in certain closely contested states. He’d attended a meeting at the White House in late December of 2020, just weeks before Jan. 6, to help plan the Republicans’ strategy for blocking Congress’s vote to formalize President Biden’s victory. And he was on a conference call on Jan. 2, 2021, for the same purpose. Jordan also spoke with Trump more than once on Jan. 6. 

Russell Dye a spokesperson for Jordan dismissed the referral as “just another partisan and political stunt made by a Select Committee that knowingly altered evidence, blocked minority representation on a Committee for the first time in the history of the U.S. House of Representatives, and failed to respond to Mr. Jordan’s numerous letters and concerns surrounding the politicization and legitimacy of the Committee’s work.”

Perry, who rose in prominence as a staunch Trump defender during the former president’s first impeachment, has caught the attention of Jan. 6 investigators for his role in pushing Trump to install Jeffrey Clark as head of the Justice Department after the election. Clark was sympathetic to Trump’s “Stop the Steal” campaign, and Republicans saw him as an ally in the effort to use the Justice Department to keep Trump in office. 

Biggs, a former head of the far-right Freedom Caucus, had been a part of a campaign led by Arizona state lawmakers to seat a slate of alternative electors who would side with Trump despite his loss in the Grand Canyon State.  

A fifth GOP lawmaker, Rep. Mo Brooks (Ala.), had also been a target of investigators for his coordination with the Trump White House leading up to Jan. 6 as well as his combative speech on the Ellipse that morning, when Brooks, clad in body armorurged the crowd to “start taking down names and kicking ass.” 

Brooks, who lost a bid for Alabama Senate this year, is not returning to Capitol Hill next year, and the Jan. 6 committee did not include him on its list of ethics referrals.

Updated at 3:24 p.m.