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‘We will not hesitate’ to subpoena Trump in Jan. 6 investigation, Rep. Thompson says

Judy Woodruff speaks to Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson about the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol and the Congressional investigation into the day’s events, including the possibility of subpoenaing former President Donald Trump. Thompson chairs the select committee investigating the attack.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    Representative Bennie Thompson of Mississippi chairs that select committee investigating the January 6 attack. I spoke with him a short time ago.

    Chairman Thompson, thank you so much for joining us.

    First of all, tell us, what can the American people expect to learn from this investigation that isn't going to come from a number of other investigations under way?

  • Rep. Bennie Thompson:

    Well, the charge that this select committee is tasked with is looking at the circumstances and the facts surrounding what occurred, and coming up with a body of recommendations.

    We have a number of committees of some jurisdiction, but our charge is to collect all of the relevant committee information and synthesize it into one select committee report. And we have staff, we have the budget necessary to do that. So, to some degree, we're singularly focused on the event of January 6.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    You have subpoena power, this select committee does.

    Do you expect to call individuals, including former President Trump, former Vice President Pence, others in the White House?

  • Bennie Thompson:

    Well, let me just qualify it by saying we have the subpoena authority.

    If the facts themselves lead us to any individual, we will not hesitate to bring them before the committee.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So, you are open to calling President Trump?

    Well, let me go on and ask you about Republican reaction in the House. As you know, not just the Republican leadership, but even Republicans who voted to impeach former President Trump or who voted for an independent commission are saying they think this committee is too partisan.

    I'm going to quote your ranking Republican on Homeland Security, John Katko. Quote — he called it a "turbocharged partisan exercise, not an honest fact-finding body that the American people deserve."

  • Bennie Thompson:

    Well, let me just say that my ranking member on the Homeland Security Committee is a good person.

    He was the one that was ambushed by a Republican leadership. We negotiated in good faith what I felt was a positive step in the right direction. But we could not get the Republican leadership to accept it. And we accepted everything they asked for. And we could only get 35 votes, but we could not get enough votes in the Senate.

    And so the Senate kept saying, give us some time, give us some time. We gave them six weeks, before we moved in setting up the select committee. Our charge right now is to get to the bottom of what happened.

    All of the film that the people have looked around the country on their TV and what have you, it's absolutely astounding what occurred. If you had said something, Judy, to me that the Capitol of the United States of America would be overrun by insurrectionists because they were dissatisfied with the election, I would have said, you have to be kidding.

    We're not a Third World dictatorship or something like that. We are a democracy. We set the example for the rest of the world.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So, yours — to their charge, though, that it's a part — it's not fair from a partisan standpoint, because, even if Republicans were appointed, there'd be only five appointed by the Republican leader out of 13?

  • Bennie Thompson:

    Well, this is a Democratic-led effort.

    We made a good-faith effort for a bipartisan commission, and the Republicans voted against it. So, now those same people are coming back saying, well, this one is partisan. I don't know what they want, because we gave them one thing. They voted against it.

    So Speaker Pelosi is absolutely correct in moving forward, because, at the end of the day, we have to protect this fragile democracy.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    There's no date set for the — finishing the work of the committee. When do you think it will finish?

  • Bennie Thompson:

    Well, we will work as expeditiously as we possibly can.

    As you know, I have said we are several weeks late from the original start. Our projected date was December 31 of this year. I would just say, I don't think we can get it by that time. But I can say that we will go and get the facts.

    Some of the facts, we have already collected. But I don't want to limit it to what other committees have collected. We want to hire the best professionals out here, the best legal minds, the best investigators, and turn them loose.

    But I also want to hear from witnesses. We are yet to talk to enter the rank and file of the Capitol Police. We have always talked to the brass, but we haven't talked to those men and women who were being assaulted on that day. We need to hear from them what occurred, so make sure that we can protect them, as they protect us.

    So, we have a fiduciary responsibility to get this right. As chair, we will work — I will work just as hard as I can. My colleagues who have been appointed so far, we have had one meeting. It was a good meeting. But we are in the embryonic stage of putting it together.

    I hope Leader McCarthy gives us individuals who love this country, and not individuals who want to tear it up. The spirit of this committee is, we want to protect this democracy and the people who work in it every day.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Representative Bennie Thompson, chair of this House select committee, thank you very much.

  • Bennie Thompson:

    Thank you for having me.

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