The January 6 select committee held its final hearing for this month on Thursday, sharing new details about Donald Trump’s efforts to pressure top justice department officials to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
Across the committee’s five hearings this month, investigators have presented a meticulous account of Trump’s exhaustive efforts to cling to power after losing the election to Joe Biden. The panel has shown how Trump and his allies explored every possible avenue – from pressuring the vice-president, Mike Pence, to leaning on state election officials and justice department leaders – to promote lies about widespread election fraud.
And Liz Cheney, the Republican vice-chair of the committee, said the committee was only just getting started.
“At this point, our committee has just begun to show America the evidence that we have gathered,” Cheney said on Thursday. “There is much more to come both in our hearings and in our report.”
The committee had originally planned to hold only six hearings this month, as investigators prepare to release their final report on the deadly Capitol attack this fall. But Bennie Thompson, the Democratic chairman of the committee, said on Thursday that the hearings had sparked a flood of new tips about the insurrection, necessitating additional hearings next month.
“Those hearings have spurred an influx of new information that the committee and our investigators are working to assess,” Thompson said. “We are committed to presenting the American people with the most complete information possible. That will be our aim when we reconvene in the coming weeks.”
The committee is also now analyzing footage from the British documentarian Alex Holder, who repeatedly interviewed Trump and his family members in the days leading up to and immediately after 6 January. The committee issued a subpoena to Holder for his footage, and he met with investigators on Thursday morning.
The common element of all of this was the president expressing his dissatisfaction that the justice department, in his view, had not done enough to investigate election fraud
The common element of all of this was the president expressing his dissatisfaction that the justice department, in his view, had not done enough to investigate election fraud. “I have provided the committee with all requested materials and am fully cooperating with the investigation,” Holder said in a statement shared on Twitter. “I have no further comment at this time other than to say that our conversation today was thorough and I appreciated the opportunity to share more context about my project.”
Holder’s conversations with Trump could offer new insight into the former president’s knowledge about the possibility of violence during the congressional certification of Biden’s victory. At Thursday’s hearing, Cheney indicated the committee would soon share more evidence about how Trump reacted as the insurrection unfolded.
“These efforts were not some minor or ad hoc enterprise concocted overnight. Each required planning and coordination. Some required significant funding,” Cheney said. “All of them were overseen by President Trump, and much more information will be presented soon regarding the president’s statements and actions on January 6.”
So far, the committee has detailed Trump’s multi-pronged strategy to stay in power. First, Trump and his team launched dozens of legal efforts to challenge the election results. When those lawsuits failed, Trump and his willing advisers reached out to state election officials to pressure them to send fake slates of electors to Congress. When those officials refused to do so, Trump demanded that senior justice department officials investigate election conspiracy theories.
Testifying before the committee on Thursday, former acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen said Trump spoke to him about baseless fraud theories almost every day between 23 December and 3 January. At one point, Trump told Rosen and his deputy, Richard Donoghue, “Just say that the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the Republican congressmen.”
Rosen told the committee, “The common element of all of this was the president expressing his dissatisfaction that the justice department, in his view, had not done enough to investigate election fraud.”
When Rosen made it clear he would not go along with Trump’s fraud claims, the former president attempted to install a loyalist, Jeffrey Clark, as acting attorney general. Trump only backed off the idea after Donoghue and other senior officials warned him that such a drastic step would lead to mass resignations at the justice department. Donoghue issued that warning during a nearly three-hour meeting in the Oval Office on 3 January. Three days later, the Capitol was under siege.
In the days after 6 January, several Republican members of Congress who promoted Trump’s election lies allegedly reached out to the White House to request pardons for their role in the insurrection. According to video testimony from senior White House officials that the committee shared on Thursday, at least six House members – Matt Gaetz, Mo Brooks, Andy Biggs, Louie Gohmert, Scott Perry and Marjorie Taylor Greene – inquired about pardons. Perry has previously denied requesting a pardon.
Those pardon requests could play a central role in future hearings, as the committee attempts to build upon its case that Trump and his allies are directly responsible for the January 6 attack. In his closing statement on Thursday, Thompson said the next round of hearings would demonstrate how Trump’s increasingly desperate attempts to stay in office culminated in the deadly insurrection.
“We’re going to show how Donald Trump tapped into the threat of violence,” Thompson said. “How he summoned the mob to Washington and how after corruption and political pressure failed to keep Donald Trump in office, violence became the last option.”