Jan. 6 probe seeks Newt Gingrich; questions role in Trump’s attempt to overturn election

The Jan. 6 committee on Thursday asked Newt Gingrich to come forward voluntarily and answer questions about evidence investigators obtained highlighting the role he played promoting former President Donald Trump’s scheme to overturn the 2020 election both before and after the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. 

According to the committee, the emails that piqued their interest were between Gingrich and Trump’s advisers, including Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, communications strategist Jason Miller, and others, like Trump’s Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and White House counsel Pat Cipollone, all of whom have cooperated at length with the congressional investigation.  

Gingrich, a Georgia Republican and former House speaker, had cozied up to the White House as Trump’s impeachment-marred and scandal-ridden term came to an end. In the process, the committee contends, Gingrich ended up providing Trump’s team with significant input on television advertisements that propagated conspiracy theories about widespread voter fraud. 

Jan 6 Cmte Letter to Newt Gingrich by Daily Kos on Scribd

Further, House Select Committee Chair Bennie Thompson noted, mere days after the election in November 2020, Gingrich peppered Meadows and Cipollone with questions about who was in charge of coordinating an elector bid that would put fake pro-Trump “electors” in states demonstrably won by now-President Joe Biden. That fake elector bid was at the very core of Trump’s attempt to overturn the election. 

A month later, Gingrich proposed that ads should encourage the public to pressure state officials to investigate conspiracy theories. Those included the now long-debunked claim of Trump ballots being smuggled in suitcases out of voting centers in Georgia by nefarious election workers.

Those conspiracy theories latched on to by Gingrich and others ultimately upended the lives of election workers. 

But persuasion was not enough. 

Gingrich wrote Kushner, Miller, and consultant Larry Weitzner in a Dec. 8, 2020 email that “the goal is to arouse the country’s anger through new verifiable information.” 

“If we inform the American people in a way they find convincing and it arouses their anger, they will then bring pressure on legislators and governors,” Gingirch wrote. 

But that “new verifiable information” was bunk. 

Gingrich also did this just after Gabriel Sterling, the Georgia deputy secretary of state, issued an impassioned public plea begging that the disinformation and character attacks on election workers and election officials cease. 

“Someone’s going to get hurt. Someone’s going to get shot. Someone’s going to get killed,” Sterling said. 

Literal hours after the insurrection, investigators on the committee say Gingrich opted to keep pushing Trump’s agenda.

Thompson described Gingrich as “relentless.” 

In an email sent at 10:42 PM on Jan. 6—former Vice President Mike Pence had only reopened the Senate around 8 PM—Gingrich asked about the fake electors for Trump in an email to Meadows:

“[A]re there letters from state legislators about decertifiying electors?” Gingrich wrote.

The committee asked Gingrich to appear for a transcribed interview beginning the week of Sept. 19. 

As the summer winds down, the Jan. 6 committee’s public-facing activities are expected to ramp up. As committee member and Rep. Jamie Raskin recently told Daily Kos, the Jan. 6 probe would continue to gather and assess new evidence it received over the course of its public hearings and work to tie up loose ends before issuing an interim report.  

RELATED STORY: Pulling back from the ‘appalling descent’: An interview with Jan. 6 investigator Jamie Raskin

Meanwhile, on Friday, according to The New York Times, Cipollone and his deputy White House counsel Pat Philbin are expected to testify before a federal grand jury investigating the Jan. 6 attack. 

Likely no subpoenas from Jan. 6 probe for sitting lawmakers

Anonymous sources cited in a report published by ABC Wednesday have cast new doubt that the Jan. 6 committee will pursue enforcement of subpoenas it has issued to a handful of sitting Republican lawmakers with alleged ties to the Capitol attack. 

Reports of a similar nature have circulated for months as investigators have continued taking deposition and records from over 500 witnesses, including high- and low-level aides and Trump White House staff, election officials, and many others.  

Related: Who’s who: A rolling guide to the targets of the Jan. 6 committee

According to ABC, GOP House Leader Kevin McCarthy and Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio and Scott Perry of Pennsylvania have had “no follow-up discussions” about their cooperation since receiving their respective subpoenas.

The decision to drop the pursuit of the Republican legislators' records and testimony has “not been formalized” and ABC said their “sources caution that the committee's plans could change,” but “the emerging consensus is to proceed without taking this step.”

A representative for the Jan. 6 committee did not immediately respond to a request for comment to Daily Kos on Wednesday.

Forcing compliance with sitting lawmakers is tricky for the panel both politically and legally. Committee Chair Bennie Thompson has said since late last year that if those lawmakers targeted do not come forward, he was uncertain what tools the probe might have in its chest to force their testimony. 

Committee members have been outwardly devoted to pursuing the investigation regardless of the political toll it exacts—Liz Cheney was ousted from her leadership role in the GOP after joining the committee. But the fact remains that political retribution could be swift if Republicans take back the House and Senate in the coming elections. 

Rep. Jim Jordan, for example, is among Trump’s most fierce lapdogs in Congress and has been spurned by the Jan. 6 committee already when Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi rejected his nomination to the panel by McCarthy.

Jordan has made it clear since Trump’s first impeachment when he defended the former president unflaggingly that he would relish a chance to drag Biden White House officials through public hearings should the GOP retake Congress. 

Jordan is a member of the powerful House Judiciary Committee and is also a member of a Jan. 6 shadow committee. That committee has no subpoena power, but it has been running a parallel investigation to the official probe for months, largely relying on U.S. Capitol Police testimony to support its contention that security and intelligence failures were solely to blame for the rioting. 

Related: A Jan. 6 shadow committee sets its sights on U.S. Capitol Police

Investigators allege Jordan spoke to Trump on Jan. 6. They have based this on Trump White House call logs received from the National Archives in February. 

Jordan has flip-flopped on his account of the day, regularly buckling under scrutiny in interviews. But with or without his testimony, Trump’s former White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, has already given the probe text messages illuminating how Jordan was campaigning for then-Vice President Mike Pence to stop the certification. 

Related: White House call logs confirms what Jim Jordan couldn’t—or wouldn’t

Constitutionally, Pence did not have that authority. 

As for Perry, the committee asked him to voluntarily comply in December. Thompson alleges that Perry was the engine behind a scheme to install a Trump-friendly lawyer Jeffrey Clark at the Department of Justice as the nation’s attorney general. 

Scott Perry Letter by Daily Kos

Politico reported on March 2 that committee investigators “have repeatedly asked witnesses to describe contacts with Perry.”

The panel has already conducted over 550 interviews. Frustrating it may be for watchers of the probe, the lack of participation by certain lawmakers does not preclude the reams of evidence and other materials the committee has already amassed.

Before eventually turning his back on the committee following extensive cooperation, Meadows turned over heaps of text messages and other correspondence, only some of which has been made public.

Meadows has since been held in contempt of Congress. It is up to the Justice Department to decide whether it will bring a criminal indictment for his obstruction.

The Meadows messages alone painted a frantic picture of the White House and Washington both before and after the attack.

Related: Texts show Fox hosts and Trump Jr. begging Mark Meadows to get Trump to stop the insurgency

@Liz_Cheney reads texts sent by Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Brian Kilmeade, and Donald Trump Jr. to Mark Meadows during the insurrection, imploring him to get Trump to do something. pic.twitter.com/mgzFeHiHsy

— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) December 14, 2021

The committee itself does not have the ability to indict anyone. It has taken pains to reiterate this as Republicans like Meadows, Jordan, and several others already subpoenaed actively claim the probe acts beyond the scope of its authority.

They argue the select committee moves as a law enforcement arm, not a legislative arm. 

But the committee has underlined, time and again, it does not need to indict.

It needs only to amass information and investigate all of the different avenues in which the attempted overthrow of the 2020 election was undertaken. 

If it finds criminality or evidence of criminality, it will be up to the Department of Justice to act next.