Jan. 6 Committee Takes Control Of Official White House Photo Evidence

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Photos from the official White House photographer around the time of the Capitol riot have been obtained by the House committee investigating the Capitol violence, according to a new POLITICO report. These images could provide critical help in understanding what exactly Trump was doing around the time of the riot — information that could assist with understanding the knowledge he had of the violence and what he was doing (or not doing) as it threatened democracy.

The White House photographer on duty around the time of the riot was Shealah Craighead, who has apparently not spoken with the riot committee at this point and indicated to POLITICO that she didn’t know which of her photos the panel obtained. Sources for POLITICO indicated that not all the photos obtained by the riot panel — which they got via the National Archives — were necessarily captured by Craighead, suggesting multiple perspectives could be represented. It was last August when the committee asked for the National Archives to provide “[a]ll photographs, videos, or other media… taken or recorded within the White House on January 6, 2021″ — and items since obtained by the committee include photos captured on January 6, not just images from that general timeframe.

According to POLITICO, Jan. 6 panel chairperson Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) “told reporters earlier this week that he has continued to exchange correspondence with the Archives to help tailor and narrow the committee’s requests based on evidence the committee continues to obtain.” Trump lost an earlier attempt to keep some records from his administration from getting to the riot committee through the Archives. Thompson, meanwhile, recently pushed back on the prospect of trying to get testimony from Trump himself, saying committee members weren’t sure that such a move would automatically be substantively worthwhile for their investigation, although Thompson sounded more inclined towards the possibility of trying to get testimony from then-VP Mike Pence. According to Thompson, the riot panel is in touch with Pence’s lawyers. Pence, of course, was the target of attempts by Trump and others to pressure him into stopping Biden’s win from moving through the Congressional certification process, although Pence didn’t have that legally recognized power.

Among many other points of interest for the Jan. 6 panel is a 2:24 p.m Eastern tweet from the day of the riot in which Trump complained that Pence supposedly “didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution.” Rioters had already breached the Capitol when Trump made that post, and Pence was among those in danger. “Hang Mike Pence!” members of the crowd chanted at one point. Multiple individuals charged for their participation in the Capitol riot have singled out Trump’s Twitter post about Pence as inspiration for the mob. Per POLITICO, members of the riot committee declined to say whether they’d uncovered more (presumably non-public) details of that post attacking Pence, although one could imagine the topic would be covered in the final report the committee is planning to eventually release summarizing its investigation. Before that report is released, committee members are planning on a series of public hearings next month.