House Committee of Jan. 6 faces time constraints ahead of public hearings

The selected House committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol attack faces a time crunch as investigators scramble to piece together the words and deeds of former President Donald Trump on Jan. 6, acknowledged Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., Tuesday.

“We’re playing counterclockwise here against Trump’s inner cabal, which thinks they can hinder our investigation,” Raskin told reporters.

The commission, which hopes to begin public hearings in May, is trying to complete dozens of witness hearings in the coming weeks.

Multiple senior Trump administration officials, including senior adviser Jared Kushner and Defense Secretary Mark Esper, are expected to appear virtually before the committee this week. Another senior aide to Vice President Mike Pence, Chris Hodgson, was seen in the panel’s offices on Wednesday to make a personal statement.

“We’re going to do everything we can to get everyone’s cooperation,” Raskin said.

That ticking clock has an effect on how far investigators are willing to go to secure witness testimony and obtain documents.

Given the committee’s hearing schedule and the self-imposed deadline to release a final report in the fall, it’s becoming increasingly unlikely that conversations with Vice President Pence and Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani will result in interviews with congressional investigators.

The panel also grappled with the fallout from reports that investigators received text messages from conservative activist Ginni Thomas — wife of Judge Clarence Thomas — who pressured then Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to try to undo the election results.

Committee members have discussed whether to invite her to testify publicly, but have not publicly shared how they plan to proceed.

They are also working to fill in “several gaps” in White House phone logs obtained by the committee and first reported by The Washington Post and CBS News, Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., Tuesday.

Official records of Trump’s phone calls to switchboards include a nearly 8-hour hiatus in activity during the Capitol riots on Jan. 6, during which time multiple phone calls Trump allegedly had with GOP lawmakers were made possible using key cell phones. assistants .

Commission chair Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said Wednesday the panel is considering subpoenaing Trump’s personal phone records as they work to fill the gap in official call logs.

“That’s all up for debate,” Thompson said. “There are some other people in the room who heard conversations that day. Some people have already said in the recording that they are aware of conversations. So we’re trying to fill in the gaps.”

Thompson said the call log hole “continues to be a problem” for the committee, and now “means we have some extra work to do.”

Schiff said the committee continues to work to determine what Trump was doing at the time.

While Schiff declined to go into details, the commission has repeatedly subpoenaed cell phone records from Trump associates and allies and issued general custody requests to telecommunications, social media and email companies and platforms.

“We have multiple sources of information, both in terms of data collection and witnesses who have appeared before the commission describing the actions of the president that day,” Schiff said. “We put together as complete a picture as possible and do not rely on one source of information.”

While some committee members and staffers believe the panel should take more aggressive steps in enforcing subpoenas, any legal disputes may not be resolved before the end of the year, when Republicans can take control of the chamber.

On Monday, the panel advised the full House to detain two Trump White House officials, Peter Navarro and Dan Scavino, in contempt of Congress for ignoring subpoenas for records and testimony. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said on Wednesday the House plans to vote on the issue next week.

Trump ally Steve Bannon was charged with defying the commission’s subpoena last November after the full House voted to disparage him. He pleaded not guilty and his trial will begin in May at the earliest.

Meadows was also scorned by the House in December, but the former chief of staff has yet to be charged by the Justice Department, leading some lawmakers to criticize the DOJ for not taking action.

The commission has made it clear in court files that it believes Trump has broken the law in his efforts to reverse the 2020 election results. And although a federal judge this week wrote that it was “more likely than not” that Trump committed criminal offenses in the course of his actions, the Justice Department appears no closer to indicting — or even considering — the former president. sue for a crime.

Attorney General Garland: Do your job so we can do ours, said Rep. Elaine Luria, D-Va., Monday in a committee meeting.

“As a committee, we would want any entity with any authority to move,” Thompson told reporters on Tuesday. “But that is clearly outside our bailiwick.”

Lalee Ibssa and Luke Barr of ABC News contributed to this report.

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