Transcript: Bennie Thompson on "Face the Nation"

·6 min read

The following is a transcript of an interview with Congressman Bennie Thompson that aired Sunday, October 24, 2021, on "Face the Nation."

MARGARET BRENNAN: We want to turn now to the investigation into the events leading up to the Jan. 6 attacks on the US Capitol. The chair of the Select Investigating Committee, Mississippi Democrat Bennie Thompson, joins us from Jackson this morning. Good morning to you. 

REP. BENNIE THOMPOSON (D-MS): Good morning. How are you? 

MARGARET BRENNAN: I'm well. Before we get to that I want to quickly ask you, since you are a progressive Democrat, what is your view? Are you disappointed that President Biden had to give up tuition free community college and cut paid leave from 12 down to four weeks time?

REP. THOMPSON: Well, you know, I'm a realist in the process of making legislation, it's the art of compromise. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, but it's the ultimate product at the end. I know what we have at the end is good for America. And if we don't get everything in this package, we'll have another opportunity.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, we will watch for those details as they come out, perhaps in the days and weeks ahead. I want to ask you about Jan. 6 and the work you're doing. In the past 24 hours CBS News and other organizations have reviewed internal Facebook documents that show the company researched and identifies- identified five ways to limit the spread of false news- news reports leading up to Jan. 6. Some groups, though, still use that platform to organize ahead of the violence. How culpable do you think these social media giants, specifically Facebook, are as to the violence that happened?

REP. THOMPSON: Well, our committee identified Facebook and some other platforms as important to our investigation. We are in the process of negotiating with Facebook and those other platforms to get certain information. But it's clear that the Jan. 6 organization, per se, used them as an organizing tool. To the extent that we can identify what will happen, that's the committee's charge from the House of Representatives. We'll do it. But at this point, Facebook is working with us to provide the necessary information we requested. At that point, staff and the committee will review that information. And if it's consistent with some of the things that we're hearing coming from other areas, then obviously it's a problem. But at this point, we are not ready to make a decision one way or the other on Facebook's role.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You said this week you want to know who financed the march, who chartered the buses, who chartered the airplanes that day. Do you have any of the questions regarding the finances yet?

REP. THOMPSON: Yes, we do. We have one of the teams on the committee whose sole purpose is to look at the financing of Jan. 6, the people who spent money, whether if it's their money and other folks' money. It really doesn't matter, but we want that to go to the work product or the committee. We think the potential for co-mingling restricted funds for this purpose might be there, but obviously we'll look at it. It's just interesting to note that a lot of people came to Washington by bus, by plane, by chartered vehicles. They stayed in hotels, motels, all of that. Somebody had to pay for it. And we want to look at whether or not they're paying for that participation was legal and whether or not it contributed to what occurred on Jan. 6.

MARGARET BRENNAN: When will you subpoena President Trump himself? Have you seen any- any direct line to him?

REP. THOMPSON: Well, let me say that nobody's off limits. We will be on an ongoing basis issuing subpoenas to various individuals around the country. If we have enough evidence, and- and obviously we are pursuing evidence, but if the evidence leads to former President Trump or anyone else. The committee is not resonant in pushing back on it. We will go forward with it. So, you know, it's- it's- it's an investigation. We're not trying to get ahead of the investigation. We'll follow the facts and circumstances as they present themselves.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You know, President- President Biden said a few days ago that the attack on the Capitol was about racism. Listen to this.

(CLIP)

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Violent, deadly insurrection on the Capitol nine months ago. It was about white supremacy, in my view.

(END CLIP)

MARGARET BRENNAN: Has your investigation shown that to be true?

REP. THOMPSON: Well, clearly there are some individuals who identified with "Stop the Steal" movement, that are part of the radical right-wing elements in this country. It's clear that those elements would love to deny people of color their rights in this democracy. So, the president, in his opinion, sees it. What the committee is tasked with is looking at the facts and circumstances that made it happen. I can assure you if the facts present what the president is saying, we won't be hesitant in making it part of our report. But I think the public saw for themselves when they saw Confederate flags, when they saw anti-Semitic symbols being displayed. Those things clearly represent a philosophy that is anti-democratic and racist. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hmm. I'd like viewers to listen to a portion of Steve Bannon's podcast from the day before that riot.

(CLIP)

STEVE BANNON: All hell is going to break loose tomorrow. It's going to be moving, it's going to be quick, and all I can say is strap in. The war room, a posse. You have made this happen and tomorrow it's game day.

(END CLIP)

MARGARET BRENNAN: How premeditated was this attack?

REP. THOMPSON: Well, there's no question. Clearly, the direction of the committee is to look at that premeditation, to make sure that we identify it, but the worst kept secret in America is that Donald Trump invited individuals to come to Washington on Jan. 6. He said all hell would break loose. Steve Bannon was part of the conversation and the promotion of Jan. 6. The very podcast you- we just listened to talks about it. Steve Bannon was in the "war room" and he was in the Willett Hotel doing a lot of things. So that's why we subpoenaed him. That's why we felt it was important for the committee--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Understood.

REP. THOMPSON: --and staff to depose him. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: OK.

REP. THOMPSON: And as you saw, he refused to participate.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Understood. Chairman, thank you for your time today. We'll be back with a lot more FACE THE NATION, so stay with us.

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