January 6th Committee to explore Trump’s failure to stop the insurrection

Lawmakers on the January 6th Committee have already accused Donald Trump of failing to call off the Capitol insurrection for hours. This week's hearing is expected to reveal more evidence of what the former president was doing that day.

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  • Geoff Bennett:

    The January 6 congressional committee is expected to hold its next unlikely final hearing this Thursday in primetime. Lawmakers on the panel have already accused Donald Trump of failing to call off the Capitol insurrection for hours.

    And this week's hearing is expected to reveal more evidence of what the former president was doing that day.

    With that as our focus, let's bring in Melody Barnes, former director of the Domestic Policy Council under President Obama. She's now Executive Director of the Karsch Institute of Democracy at the University of Virginia.

    And Hugo Lowell is back with us congressional reporter for The Guardian, who has been at the forefront of the reporting on the committee. It's great to have the both of you with us.

    And Hugo, a few of the committee members appeared on the Sunday shows today. And they said that they intend to show minute by minute what Donald Trump was doing, I guess, or more to the point not doing from the moment he left that rally stage at the ellipse returned to the White House was in the White House dining room watching the insurrection for hours on TV and refusing to do it.

    Many of his aides and allies were telling him to do which was to call it off. Fill in the gaps. What more do we expect on Thursday? And is their goal to show criminal action criminal intent?

  • Hugo Lowell, Congressional Reporter, The Guardian:

    I think you got it right. They are really focused on this inaction pot, both in terms of a dereliction of duty, as you would expect the President to do but also dereliction of duty from a criminal statute sense, right? There's a statute that says, you know, through action or inaction, did you obstruct a official proceeding or a congressional proceeding and they want to show that Trump through his inaction by sitting in that White House, by sitting in the White House dining I'm looking at had the violence unfolding and yet doing nothing not sending a tweet not going to the briefing them, they want to show that he was derelict in his duty and therefore is responsible for a crime.

  • Geoff Bennett:

    And Melody, Adam Schiff, who as you know sits on the committee, he makes the point that it is extremely unusual for Congress, or, for that matter, local DA's office using the case of what's happening in Fulton County, Georgia, to be so far out ahead of the DOJ on a matter like this, when the DOJ has greater resources. Is that a view that you share? Well, I

    Melody Barnes, Executive Director, Karsh Institute of Democracy: I think that the Department of Justice, in many ways has been relying on and watching these hearings very carefully, because the Select Committee has been able to use subpoena power at a different level at a different standard than the Department of Justice would be required to. They've been able to gather information to start to shape their case.

    Is my understanding, listening to what Chairman Thompson has been saying? What Congresswoman Cheney has said that there have been conversations with the Department of Justice, and that they are starting to build, I don't know if it's a case, but certainly gather more information to determine whether or not they can go forward.

    But there's no question that Georgia and the DA there in Fulton County is much further ahead with the subpoenas that they have issued and specific people that we know are in their sights.

  • Geoff Bennett:

    But what about that, Hugo? What do you hear from committee members on that specific issue, what they expect the DOJ to do next, if anything?

  • Hugo Lowell:

    I think the committee members have been complaining a lot publicly that DOJ hasn't been doing very much or they've been slow to respond to evidence that the committee has or that DOJ has gone. But I think it's important to note though two things. First of all, that the Department of Justice is a panel that leads to grand juries looking into people very, very close to Trump. They have a grand jury impaneled investigating the rally organizers on January 6, and they have a grand jury impaneled investigating the lawyers close to the former president involved in the fake collector scheme.

    And then separately, the Attorney General has said that he's asked the Office of Legal Counsel, the internal policy shop in the Department of Justice, whether he is precluded from opening investigation into former president to which he was told he wasn't.

    And so I think there's a lot of kind of effort going on behind the scenes that the Justice Department can't confirm publicly. But this does seem to be indications of the Justice Department's I think ramping up their investigation in ways that we might not have seen previously.

  • Geoff Bennett:

    While you have your I guess, virtual reporter's notebook open, give us a sense. What's happening with these deleted texts on the part of the Secret Service? The committee has asked to have those, whatever records exist to be turned over by Tuesday in advance of this Thursday, hearing, Congressman Kinzinger was on again, one of the Sunday shows today. He says he has no idea what this committee will get because he doesn't know if any of the texts were backed up.

  • Hugo Lowell:

    Right. And that's what they heard from the Inspector General for the DHS on Friday, they had a briefing behind closed doors. And according to my reporting, the DHS Inspector General told them things that really worried them, first of all, that the Secret Service's story about how these text messages got deleted, keeps changing at one point it was software updates. And then later it was oh, you know, as we swapped out devices, and they weren't backed up. And so we don't have the text messages from January 5 and January 6, like two of the most crucial dates, you know, you're investigating the insurrection.

    And so I think that was why the select committee moves so fast and issuing these subpoenas for after action reports that we understand never actually took place, as well as these text messages to see if they can do any sort of reconstruction, any sort of evidence gathering to see if they can piece together what was going on inside the Secret Service.

  • Geoff Bennett:

    And Melody Barnes as the committee has been having these hearings, there has been even before these hearings started a normalization on the right of January 6, being something of a protest rally that went sort of off the rails rather than what it was, which was an attack on our democracy.

    What do you think is the impact of that and just the way that the American public views the functions of the government, given the many bombshells revelations that have come forth from this committee's work product.

  • Melody Barnes:

    Obviously, we have to understand what's going on in the here and now. But the long term implications of this for democratic institutions, democratic practices and democratic culture are quite significant.

    At this point, when you get to the days that the public are hearing about like December 18th in this meeting that's been described as unhinged, I think I'm from the Reagan to either Bush administration to Clinton to Obama would tell you, that isn't the way the presidency is supposed to work. And you've got a roving band of people spreading misinformation being whisked into the White House, under — not under normal circumstances. That's bizarre. That's wrong. And all of this by some is being normalized.

    I think that is a significant threat. We are teetering on the edge and for people who don't understand that. This is the moment to wake up that we are teetering on the edge when it comes to the underpinnings of our democracy.

  • Geoff Bennett:

    And Hugo in the 30 seconds we have left, I mentioned at the outset that this is likely the final hearing but we heard from committee members today that it may not be. What more should we expect?

  • Hugo Lowell:

    Yes. And according to my sources, there may even be a second set of hearings towards the end of August, right. I mean, this is sort of pretty much an ongoing investigation. That's what we keep hearing from the channel, the Select Committee and other members.

  • Geoff Bennett:

    Hugo Lowell and Melody Barnes, thanks so much for being with us.

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