Lawmakers Investigate More Evidence of Criminal Plot at Jan. 6 Insurrection
WASHINGTON – The congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol is increasingly looking at former President Donald Trump and his advisers for possible criminal violations.
The latest leaks to media organizations add to evidence Trump might have incited the mob that attacked the Capitol in a misguided effort to overturn the election won by President Joe Biden.
On Thursday, the committee interviewed a speech writer and policy adviser for Trump about whether he contributed to the former president’s remarks that prompted the audience to overrun the Capitol.
The eight hours of virtual questioning of Stephen Miller became a heated exchange at times, according to media reports citing anonymous sources.
Committee members were especially interested in whether Trump’s use of the word “we” as he spoke to the crowd was intended to compel them to try to stop Congress from certifying the election results that gave the victory to Biden.
In one example at the Stop the Steal rally near the White House, Trump said, “We will not take it anymore, and that’s what this is all about. And to use a favorite term that all of you people really came up with: We will stop the steal.”
Miller reportedly said use of the word “we” is common in many political speeches, but was not intended to inflame the thousands of onlookers.
Trump denies he was trying to provoke his supporters to violence but some lawmakers say circumstantial evidence depicts a different story.
One of the next stages in the congressional investigation is scheduled for April 28, when the National Archives is set to deliver another batch of Trump administration records to the committee. It would consist of hundreds of pages of Trump’s diaries, call logs and aides’ handwritten notes.
Trump tried to use legal challenges to keep the documents confidential but the Supreme Court declined to hear his case.
After reviewing the documents, committee officials said they plan additional hearings in coming months. Some of them would be public.
Although the committee has been interviewing witnesses and conducting most of its business in secret until now, some lawmakers gave hints of where they are headed.
On Thursday, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., a member of the Jan. 6 panel, gave an interview to NPR’s Morning Edition that implicated Trump in the insurrection.
“And we expect and plan to have public hearings in the very near future to lay out what we’ve discovered, not only about what happened on Jan. 6 but the elements of the plot leading up to Jan. 6,” Lofgren said.
Although she did not directly say anyone would face criminal charges, she said the committee plans to make its evidence public “and that would include the Department of Justice,” Lofgren said.
After interviewing more than 800 witnesses, the committee arrived at the conclusion that the Jan. 6 insurrection “was the product of quite an extensive plot to upend the Constitution and to prevent the peaceful transfer of power,” Lofgren said.
She described Trump’s statements about his role by saying, “his track record of truthfulness is a bit squishy.”
Lofgren’s statements coincide closely with reports by major media organizations this week, often based on anonymous sources inside Congress.
The New York Times reported that one week before the mob broke into the Capitol, an associate of former Trump campaign adviser Roger Stone spoke with the former president’s supporters in a conference call.
He told them the election was a sham and urged them to “descend on the Capitol” on Jan. 6, 2021, according to a recorded phone call during which communications specialist Jason Sullivan made the statements.
Tom can be reached at [email protected]
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