The Jan. 6 Committee Is Promising It Has the Goods. We’re About to Find Out
The House Select Committee to Investigate the Jan. 6 Attack on the U.S. Capitol has been busy.
In the five months since the probe was launched, the committee has issued dozens of subpoenas to high-profile members of former President Trump’s circle, as well as a smattering of other MAGA-affiliated figures involved in the effort to overturn the results of the 2020 election. The process has been fraught for a number of reasons, but revelations that have emerged from Rolling Stone’s conversations with cooperating sources indicate the committee could be sitting on a mountain of material — material that could clarify what happened on Jan. 6, and who’s to blame for it.
Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) has offered a sense of what to expect from the investigation as the calendar turns. In short, expect a lot.
“We are making rapid progress,” the committee’s vice chair said at a House Rules Committee hearing on Thursday. “We anticipate next year, we will be conducting multiple weeks of public hearings, setting out for the American people in vivid color exactly what happened, every minute of the day on January 6th, here at the Capitol and at the White House, and what led to that violent attack.”
Cheney’s announcement signals a new phase of the investigation, in which the committee will push the machinations behind what happened on Jan. 6 into public view. The makeup of these forthcoming hearings is unclear, but the fact that they’re public and will last for “several weeks” should cement Jan. 6 as a key issue throughout the 2022 campaign season.
One figure of interest who seems open to testifying publicly is Bernard Kerik, the former New York City police commissioner and pal to Rudy Giuliani who allegedly participated in the now-infamous Jan. 5 meeting at the Willard Hotel. At that meeting, Giuliani, Steve Bannon, John Eastman, and others discussed how to overturn the election results. Politico reported on Thursday that Kerik won’t provide documents unless he’s allowed to testify publicly. He’d previously said he’d comply with his subpoena but demanded the committee apologized to him for making “false statements.”
Alex Jones, the conspiracy theorist who reportedly helped plan the rally at the Ellipse , and Jeffrey Clark, a former Justice Department official whom the committee on Wednesday night recommended be charged with contempt for defying his subpoena, have also indicated they’d be open to testifying publicly. The committee probably won’t be interested, though. Public testimony makes it easier for witnesses to coordinate their stories, which would make it more difficult for the committee to piece together what actually happened on Jan. 6, rather than what a bunch of Trump allies want people to think happened.
Signaling a willingness to testify publicly makes it seem like a witness want to comply, but it doesn’t mean they aren’t effectively obeying Trump’s directive to stonewall the committee. Trump has done so himself through his likely doomed effort to prevent the committee from getting ahold of White House documents from the National Archives. Bannon did so extremely publicly in refusing to show up for his deposition and was subsequently charged with criminal contempt . Mark Meadows has agreed to cooperate, reaching an agreement with the committee this week after first refusing to comply. It’s unclear to what extent Stephen Miller, Michael Flynn, Roger Stone, and other high-profile Trump allies will play ball, but it wouldn’t be surprising if many of them follow Trump and do what they can to stick it to the committee.
It’s easy to focus only on the big names and what they’re doing to make the committee’s work more difficult, but Cheney promising weeks of “vivid color” recounting of what happened is a reminder that the committee has been in touch with an untold number of other figures who were swirling around Trump’s efforts to overturn the election. Chairman Bennie Thompson (R-Miss.) said on Thursday that they’ve interviewed 250 people , most of which have cooperated voluntarily. The committee seems confident they’ve already drawn enough to paint a clear picture of why, how, and at whose direction hundreds of Trump supporters were able to break into the Capitol in a violent attempt to overthrow American democracy. We’ll see next year.