Jan. 6 Committee Goes Directly After Trump Cabinet In Expanding Probe

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The House committee investigating the Capitol riot is zeroing in on Trump’s Cabinet, as outlined in a new report from ABC. 

Steve Mnuchin, who served as Treasury Secretary throughout Donald Trump’s time in office and apparently “discussed” the potential after the riot of employing the 25th Amendment to push Trump from power, was recently interviewed by the riot panel, per ABC. Mnuchin is said to have spoken of the 25th Amendment possibility with then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who’s reportedly also slated to soon sit for questioning by the committee. Other figures apparently in negotiations over potential testimony to the riot panel include John Ratcliffe and Chad Wolf, who were Director of National Intelligence and acting Secretary of Homeland Security, respectively, at the time of the riot. As noted by ABC, Wolf could — if eventually questioned by the panel — speak to the push for a federal seizure of voting machines.

That push was one of the topics discussed during an infamous hours-long meeting at the Trump White House on December 18, 2020. Sidney Powell, Michael Flynn, and Rudy Giuliani were among the election conspiracists involved in those deliberations; then-White House counsel Pat Cipollone also had a part in what went on, but he was on the other side of things and recently testified in private to the panel.

Cipollone spoke to a variety of issues, including that meeting — and he indicated it appeared Powell might have thought she’d been appointed special counsel to deal with federal responses to imaginary election fraud after the meeting, raising the question of what corrupt steps Trump might’ve undertaken during that gathering to give her that idea. “We were asking one simple question, as a general matter. Where is the evidence?” Cipollone explained, apparently discussing the response he and allies of his had to fraud claims from Powell and others during that meeting. Cipollone characterized the response from Powell’s side as showing “a disregard, I would say — a general disregard for the importance of actually backing up what you say with facts.” Meanwhile, other areas of interest for the riot committee include potential concerns about Trump’s broader conduct in office — on the so-called world stage — after the last election.

According to former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson, who worked with then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, Ratcliffe “felt that there could be dangerous repercussions, in terms of precedent set for elections, for our democracy, for the 6th. You know, he was hoping that we would concede.” Other figures cited by ABC’s report as of interest include Robert O’Brien, who was Trump’s national security adviser, and the two then-Cabinet officials who resigned after the Capitol violence, including Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao. The committee already heard from ex-Trump Cabinet officials including then-acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller, former Attorney General Bill Barr, and Jeffrey Rosen, who took over as acting Justice Department head in the post-election period after Barr left. The committee has slowly expanded the plans for public hearings; it’ll be holding additional public proceedings later this year.