Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., on Monday previewed the upcoming public hearings from the House Select Committee probing the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, saying the nine-person group of lawmakers is set to lay out a “mountain of evidence” for the American people this week.
“We just have an absolute mountain of evidence about what took place and our problem is really distilling the core elements of all of these events to share with the people,” Raskin said in an interview with The Washington Post Live. “But I hope that all of the most important material evidence will be made available to the public.”
Come this Thursday, the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol is setting out to establish the historical record of an event damaging not only to a community or individual families but to the collective idea of democracy itself.
After more than 100 subpoenas, 1,000 interviews and 100,000 documents, the committee has a story to tell – and according to committee members, it will be one for the history books.
The committee, chaired by Rep. Bennie Thomspon, D-Miss., was formed in July 2021 to investigate the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol that occurred as lawmakers were attempting to certify the results of the 2020 presidential election – and the possible role played by then-President Donald Trump and some of his closest advisers in possibly inciting the riot.
“The committee has found evidence of concerted planning – the idea that all of this was just a routing demonstration that spontaneously got a little bit out of control is absurd,” Raskin said. “You don't almost knock over the U.S. government by accident.”
Of Trump’s potential role in the insurrection, Raskin said: “People are gonna have to make judgments themselves about the relative role that different people played. But I think that Donald Trump and the White House were at the center of these events. That's the only way, really, of making sense of them all.”
The committee’s examination of the actions of Trump and all the president’s men and women, more aggressive than any inquiry before it, has produced a multitude of plot lines that together will tell the tale of a violent uprising fueled by the venom and lies of a defeated president.
Raskin acknowledged the committee will not recommend charges against specific defendants – that will be a job for the Department of Justice – but believes there is “overwhelming evidence of this plan to overturn the 2020 presidential election, in coordination with a violent assault on our bodies.”
As of early May, the DOJ had arrested over 800 defendants across 50 states in connection to the Jan. 6 insurrection. At least 255 individuals were charged with assaulting, resisting, or impeding officers or other Capitol employees; around 700 have been charged with entering or remaining on restricted federal grounds and more than 280 have been charged with impeding or attempting to impede an official proceeding.
“The investigation launched by the Department of Justice I believe is the most massive and sweeping criminal investigation by the DOJ in its history,” Raskin noted Monday. “Nothing else even comes close to it.”
Still, many questions remain – some of which the committee hopes to publicly answer on Thursday.
Among those questions: Did Vice President Mike Pence refuse to leave the besieged Capitol because he suspected the Secret Service, at the behest of Trump, was trying to take him away to stop him from certifying Democrat Joe Biden’s victory? Was the vice president's life ever in danger?
“Watch the hearings,” Raskin said. “The hearings will tell a story about what took place on that day.”
Beyond that: Did Trump flush incriminating papers down the White House toilet? Is there an explanation for the gap of more than seven hours in White House telephone logs of Trump’s calls during the insurrection?
Overall, the committee’s goal is larger: Who in a position of power should also be held to account?
“We have wanted to make sure that we get as much information as possible from as many material witnesses as possible – we want to figure out exactly what happened,” Raskin said.
The committee has requested testimony from numerous Trump contacts, including some sitting members like House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who so far has refused to cooperate with subpoenas from the committee. In late May, McCarthy penned an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal calling the request a "political stunt" and asserting Democrats were "weaponizing majority rule."
Raskin on Monday called McCarthy's stance a "bizarre position" given there are two Republicans, Wyoming's Liz Cheney and Illinois' Adam Kinzinger, on the committee, despite McCarthy's staunch opposition.
McCarthy has acknowledged he spoke with Trump on Jan. 6 as Trump’s supporters were beating police outside the Capitol and forcing their way into the building, but has declined to share specifics. The committee requested information about his conversations with Trump “before, during and after” the riot.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.