Cheney, & Jan. 6 Committee Target Evidence From Trump Insurrectionists

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The House committee investigating the Capitol riot is pursuing testimony from participants in that riot, according to a new report from POLITICO. Rather than an announcement from the panel itself, lawyers for riot participants have revealed the committee’s efforts. Thus far, the riot investigation committee’s efforts have been wide-ranging, including recent subpoenas to Trump allies including former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and former Trump adviser Steve Bannon. The committee has also sought troves of records of the Trump White House and related matters amid its efforts to (among other things) understand exactly what Trump was doing throughout the time that the riot unfolded.

So far, requests for testimony from riot participants have hinged upon asks for their voluntary cooperation rather than subpoenas, although the riot investigation committee does have the power to issue such demands. One letter from the committee seeking the testimony of a rioter noted that the panel “is examining the facts, circumstances, and causes of January 6, 2021, in order to identify and evaluate lessons learned and to recommend corrective law, policies, procedures, rules or regulations.” Thus, the letter added (addressing a lawyer) that the committee “would like to interview your client, who we understand has accepted responsibility and pleaded guilty.”

Dozens of riot participants have pleaded guilty to criminal charges against them, although many more have not (yet, at least) made such admissions of guilt. Plea deals have mostly involved lower level offenses so far, with other alleged crimes, like conspiracy, among those set to be considered in trial proceedings. POLITICO notes that it’s “not immediately clear how many, if any, of those charged will agree to speak with House investigators,” although it’s worth noting that one prominent Capitol rioter, Jacob Chansley (who is otherwise known as the “QAnon Shaman”), was apparently willing to testify at Trump’s impeachment trial earlier this year, per remarks from his lawyer. Chansley has since pleaded guilty to one felony count of obstruction of an official proceeding, and he was recently ordered to remain in custody ahead of his sentencing this November.

In the meantime, the actions of the rioters have repeatedly been tied to Trump by the rioters and their lawyers themselves. According to court records, Chansley indicated to investigators, for instance, that he was in D.C. “at the request of the president that all ‘patriots’ come to D.C. on January 6.” An attorney for Dominic Pezzola, who is affiliated with the far-right group known as the Proud Boys and also participated in the riot, commented similarly, saying that his client “was responding to the entreaties of then-Commander in Chief President Trump.” Broadly, the riot was directly inspired by Trump’s lies about the integrity of last year’s presidential election, which the former president has falsely insisted was rigged for Biden.