Jan. 6 Panel's Time Is Up

Committee issues departing message
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 2, 2023 3:55 PM CST
Jan. 6 Panel Is Shutting Down
Chairman Bennie Thompson, center, speaks as the House select committee holds its final meeting on in Washington, Monday, Dec. 19, 2022.   (Jim Lo Scalzo/Pool Photo via AP)

The House Jan. 6 committee is shutting down, having completed a whirlwind 18-month investigation of the 2021 Capitol insurrection and sent its work to the Justice Department along with a recommendation for prosecuting former President Donald Trump. The committee’s time officially ends Tuesday when the new Republican-led House is sworn in. With many of the committee’s staff already departed, remaining aides have spent the last two weeks releasing many of the panel’s materials, including its 814-page final report, about 200 transcripts of witness interviews, and documents used to support its conclusions, the AP reports. Lawmakers have said they want to make their work public to underscore the seriousness of the attack and Trump’s multi-pronged effort to try to overturn the election.

"Accountability is now critical to thwart any other future scheme to overturn an election," Chairman Bennie Thompson, a Democrat, and Vice Chairwoman Liz Cheney, a Republican, wrote in a departing message on Monday. "We have made a series of criminal referrals, and our system of Justice is responsible for what comes next." Some of the committee’s work—such as videotape of hundreds of witness interviews—will not be made public immediately. The committee is sending those videos and some other committee records to the National Archives, which by law would make them available in 50 years.

Members of the committee said they didn’t release that videotape now because it would have been too difficult to edit it and redact sensitive information. Incoming Republican leaders may try to get those materials much sooner, though. A provision in a package of proposed House rules released Sunday calls for the National Archives to transfer "any records related to the committee" back to the House no later than Jan. 17. It is unclear whether the GOP-led House could enforce the provision and what they would do with the materials.

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The committee’s conclusion comes after one of the most aggressive and wide-ranging congressional investigations in recent memory. In the end, the panel came to a unanimous conclusion that Trump coordinated a "conspiracy" on multiple levels, pressuring states, federal officials, and lawmakers to try to overturn his defeat, and inspired a violent mob of supporters to attack the Capitol and interrupt the certification of President Biden’s win. The panel recommended that the Justice Department prosecute Trump on four crimes, including aiding an insurrection. While the referral has no real legal standing, it is a forceful statement and adds to political pressure already on Attorney General Merrick Garland and special counsel Jack Smith, who is conducting an investigation into Jan. 6 and Trump’s actions. (More Jan. 6 hearings stories.)

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