Thompson on what the Jan. 6 panel has learned in the year since the Capitol attack

While the disturbing scenes of the Jan. 6 insurrection were captured by witnesses and the media, many unknowns still exist. Among them, the actions of President Donald Trump who was silent for more than three hours. The bipartisan House committee investigating the attack aims to find out why. Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson, a Democrat who chairs the committee, joins Judy Woodruff with more.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    But, despite the disturbing scenes we have seen of the January 6 insurrection and what we think we know about that day, many unknowns still exist, among them, the actions of then-President Trump, who was silent for more than three hours as his supporters wreaked havoc inside the Capitol.

    That's one area under examination by the bipartisan House committee investigating the January 6 attack.

    Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat from Mississippi, chairs that committee.

    I spoke with him a short time ago.

    Congressman Thompson, thank you very much for joining us.

    You should know you received a vote of confidence today from Vice President Harris. When I spoke with her, she said she has full confidence that you and your committee will get to the bottom of what happened on January the 6th.

    My question to you is, are you equally confident and that you will also get to the bottom of the complicity of the former president?

  • Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS):

    I thank the vice president for her vote of confidence.

    I can assure everyone who's looking at this show that our committee will do its dead level best to conduct a thorough investigation on the facts and circumstances that occurred on January 6 and make recommendations, if adopted, so that it won't ever happen again.

    What we had occur on January 6 was a clear threat to our democracy.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Your committee has received thousands of pages of records, of documents. You have interviewed, I saw, more than 300 witnesses.

    Can you say who or what has been most helpful to you so far? And does that include people who were in the room with former President Trump during the time of this assault?

  • Rep. Bennie Thompson:

    We have had cooperation from just about every walk of life.

    But I'm real concerned about some of the information we are gathering. It appears that the White House was not listening to what was happening on January 6. That 187 minutes, as you have come to hear about, that was just too much time between what started here at the Capitol and the inaction of the White House. That gives me pause that, clearly, our president at that time, Donald Trump, could have done more.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Congressman, you have spoken of your interest in having access to video recordings the former president made before he made the video that was that was finally released.

    Who has possession of those videos? And do you believe you're going to get them?

  • Rep. Bennie Thompson:

    We believe we will get them if the Supreme Court agrees with our position.

    If so, our request to the Archives to give us that information will be honored. We believe that that request will include those various edits of tape that ultimately went on the cutting floor, that took so long for the president just to say to the people he invited to the Capitol to stop doing what you're doing. This is illegal. It's not who we are as Americans.

    But that 187 minutes, we believe, is so important to the body of work for our committee.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    You have also said that you have asked the former Vice President Mike Pence, to cooperate.

    Do you believe he will? Will he talk to your committee?

  • Rep. Bennie Thompson:

    Well, we do know that the vice president resisted President Trump's pressure.

    We need to hear a voluntary statement from former Vice President Pence as to what he knew about this situation, because, after all, at the end of the day, because he stood up for the rule of law, individuals who broke into the Capitol wanted to hang him.

    He knows those comments that we are gradually getting from various people. There's no better source than the source itself. And, in this situation, it's the vice president.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Are you getting signals he will cooperate?

  • Rep. Bennie Thompson:

    Not at this point.

    We do plan to officially ask him to voluntarily come in. He's under a lot of pressure. As you know, a lot of members of Congress who were very upset on January 6 and January 7 have changed their story. Some, like former President Trump, are trying to say we need to move on.

    Well, Congress has a responsibility to look into what happened.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Last question, Chairman Thompson.

    And that is, you know that a number of Republican members of the House are saying that your committee is partisan, that it's one-sided in its approach.

    And just yesterday on the "NewsHour," I want to give you an opportunity to respond to what Republican Congressman Troy Nehls of Texas said. He described the committee as — quote — "Speaker Pelosi's select committee. Bennie Thompson is the puppet, and she is the puppet master."

  • Rep. Bennie Thompson:

    You know, now, this is somebody who voted against a committee made up of 50 percent appointed by Pelosi and 50 percent appointed by Republican Leader McCarthy.

    My position is, those individuals who voted against it don't want the truth to come out.

    But thank goodness Speaker Pelosi took the leadership mantle by recommending the select committee to Congress, and the Congress — or the House approved it. And we will do our work. So, the congressman is entitled to his opinion, but, in this situation, he's dead wrong.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Chairman Bennie Thompson, who is the chair of the select committee investigating the attack on the Capitol on January 6, Congressman, thank you very much.

  • Rep. Bennie Thompson:

    Thank you for having me.

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