Rep. Elaine Luria discusses the investigation into the Capitol insurrection

The Jan. 6 committee on Thursday plans on revealing more about what former President Trump did and did not do during the Capitol insurrection. Rep. Elaine Luria of Virginia, a member of the committee who is co-leading the presentation during Thursday's hearing, joins Judy Woodruff to discuss.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    For more on the upcoming hearing, we turn to a member of the January 6 Select Committee.

    Congresswoman Elaine Luria of Virginia is co-leading the presentation tonight. And she joins me now from the Capitol.

    Congresswoman Luria, thank you so much for being here.

    The committee is saying that, tonight, we're going to learn more about what former President Trump did and did not do on January 6. What new will we learn tonight?

  • Rep. Elaine Luria (D-VA):

    Well, we're going to paint a very clear picture, a minute-by-minute, almost, detailed picture of what happened between the time he stepped off the stage at the Ellipse.

    And, as a reminder, he had just given a speech, a rallying cry to this mob that he had assembled in Washington, and he led them to believe that he was going to join them in marching to the Capitol. And then he went back to the White House. He really still wanted to go the Capitol, but went back to the White House.

    And we will see, over the course of 187 minutes — that's more than three hours — that he sat in the White House and watched the events unfold, many people around him. There was a flurry of action and pressure essentially to try to get him to stand up and use the microphone that he had as the president of the United States to tell the rioters to stop, to stop the violence.

    But he didn't do that until about 4:17 in the afternoon, when it was clear that what the rioters were trying to do to pressure the vice president, to stop or delay the counting of the election results, that that wasn't going to be successful.

    So we will go into a lot of detail. And we will hear from lots of people who were in the White House that day.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Do you know for a fact that former President Trump could have stopped the rioters from that attack, could have called it off?

  • Rep. Elaine Luria:

    Well, when I will tell you — and we heard from Mr. Ayres last week as a witness.

    And he said when he got a message from the president, essentially, that 4:17 speech, which, it was not a very forceful message to stop, people watched and they listened. And he said he himself and other people he was there with, who they had been called here by Trump, President Trump said, go home in peace.

    He also gave a rather disconcerting message of love and commiseration with them, but they said, it's time to go and leave. So the president — the Oval Office is very close to a camera that's live 24/7. As the president of the United States, he has the opportunity to stand up with a microphone to the nation and tell not only the people at the Capitol, but the whole country, that the violence was unacceptable.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    As you mentioned, it does appear the president, the former president, wanted to go to the Capitol, couldn't do that.

    You have been trying to get those text messages between Secret — members of the Secret Service on that day. They have said that they were in the process of changing over to a new system, they have all been wiped.

    Do you think you're going to get them or any significant portion of them?

  • Rep. Elaine Luria:

    That's yet to be determined.

    This is something that is of great interest to the committee. We issued a subpoena with a quick turnaround time frame to ask the Secret Service to provide us that information. And we're going to continue to try to get to the bottom of this.

    I mean, at least to me, it's not satisfying for them to just say, we can't locate them. There are a lot of technical experts out there who are able to relocate data. And we will continue to pursue this.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    I want to ask you about a poll that the "NewsHour" did in coordination with NPR and Marist College, Congresswoman.

    We asked — this was just a few days ago. We asked Americans their views of what happened on January 6, and we found that, since last December, views have barely changed. Half of Americans then and now believe, yes, there was an insurrection, while the other half believes it was just a political protest at worst, or just an unfortunate thing that happened and it's time to move on.

    What does it say to you that, after all the work that this committee has put in and after all these hearings, that people — that the numbers really haven't moved at all on the part of the public's perception of January 6?

  • Rep. Elaine Luria:

    I can speak anecdotally to those conversations that I have with people across my district when I'm out and about talking to constituents.

    They tell me, they said: I knew it was bad, but I didn't quite understand how all of the pieces fit together.

    So I have heard over and over again from people who've been watching the work of the committee that this has made them understand more clearly. It brought all of the pieces into focus about how this was a deliberate, multistep plan to apply pressure on the vice president, fake electors, assembling the mob.

    And then, today, we will talk about the actual events of the day of January 6. So I hope that anyone out there watching who has any doubt or question in their mind, that they will listen and hear the facts.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    One of the other questions we asked, Congresswoman, is whether people believe former President Trump should be charged with a crime; 50 percent said, yes, he should be, but only 28 percent said he will — do they believe he will be.

    What do you believe, do you think? Do you think he will be charged, ultimately?

  • Rep. Elaine Luria:

    Well, again, there's a separation between the congressional committee that is conducting this investigation and presenting the facts here and the Department of Justice.

    The committee is forward-looking. So we're really — our purpose is to lay out the facts and provide recommendations for the future to prevent something like this. The Department of Justice is essentially backward-looking, in the sense they're the ones who have to determine if a crime was committed and hold someone accountable for those actions.

    I know that the Department of Justice is conducting investigations. It's the largest investigation that they have ever — criminal investigation ever, with over 800 defendants. But I don't have exact knowledge of where that investigation is progressing.

    It's gone from individuals who were located at the Capitol that trespassed, violence, different crimes like that, to a level of seditious conspiracy, which is a very serious crime, very rarely prosecuted within our country. And so I see that they're ratcheting up their efforts.

    Would I like them to go more quickly, so that we can understand where this will ultimately go? Yes. But I do understand the magnitude of it. And I know that they're listening to the work of the committee as well. Judges who've made rulings recently with regards to the January 6 defendants have actually used information that we have presented as a committee in those findings.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Representative Elaine Luria, who will be co-leading the questioning tonight.

    Congresswoman, thank you. Tonight, we will be watching.

  • Rep. Elaine Luria:

    Thank you.

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