On January 6, 2021, the House committee investigating laid out a damning 800-plus page case that former President Donald Trump’s efforts to subvert the 2020 election led to the violence at the US Capitol, documenting the former executive director’s actions for the record. and possibly for criminal investigators.
On Monday, the committee referred Trump to the Justice Department on four criminal charges. On Thursday, the committee effectively laid out its case for why it believes Trump is criminally responsible for his actions.
In its report, the committee recommends that Trump be barred from holding office again.
Trump quickly blasted the report on his Truth Social platform with false claims about the riot and the 2020 election. He did not address specific findings from what he called the “highly biased” report, instead blaming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for the security breach that day and resuming his baseless allegations of election fraud.
Here are key takeaways from the committee’s final report:
The committee didn’t mince words in laying the blame for the January 6 violence squarely at Trump’s feet.
After holding nine public hearings and releasing a summary of the report earlier this week, the final document reads like an indictment of Trump, explaining his direct role in every aspect of the plan to overthrow the 2020 election — and drawing a clear line between Trump’s election denial and the violence that ensued.
The panel nullifies the section of the constitution that says a person who has taken an oath to support the constitution but has “participated in a rebellion” or given “aid or comfort to the enemies of the constitution” can be disqualified from office.
The former president and others have been referred by the committee to the Justice Department for aiding or abetting an insurgency. The panel calls on congressional jurisdictional committees to create a “formal mechanism” to evaluate whether those individuals who violate that part of the 14th Amendment should be barred from future federal or state office.
Despite Trump’s attempts to blame Democrats for the security failures that day and a GOP rebuttal report released earlier this week that completely glossed over the former president’s own role in the attack, the select committee’s report is an effective conclusion to the panel’s 18-month long investigation.
That leaves no doubt that the committee believes Trump, and Trump alone, was responsible for the January 6 attack.
“None of the events of January 6 would have happened without him,” the report said.
There were no major new bombshells in the report the committee released Thursday — instead, the committee focused on describing the depth and detail of its work throughout its investigation.
The report offered the most comprehensive account yet of what happened in the two months between Election Day on November 3, 2020 and Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20, 2021.
It’s a story that expands on the committee’s public hearings over the summer, taking readers step-by-step through the various schemes Trump orchestrated and the help he received from allies inside and outside his administration.
Along the way, the committee revealed more details about what it had learned in the more than 1,000 witness interviews conducted during the 18-month investigation, including tidbits it hadn’t released publicly before, like Trump lawyer Eric Herschmann’s conversations with Rudy Giuliani. morning of Jan. 6, and that Trump and his inner circle targeted election officials at least 200 times.
The committee’s public hearings largely focused on Trump’s role, and there were questions in the weeks before the report’s release about how much it would go beyond the former president.
But while the report’s main headlines were all about Trump, the final report also provides a definitive picture of the attack on Congress, the contributing factors within American discourse as well as law enforcement preparedness and failures.
The report compiles pre-January 6 intelligence assessments from the federal government, including key messages law enforcement had seen among Trump supporters on online forums.
The committee also interviewed leaders of agencies leading law enforcement efforts, such as Washington, DC, Mayor Muriel Bowser and police chiefs.
The select committee also says it has interviewed 24 witnesses and reviewed 37,000 pages of documents for a review of the D.C. National Guard’s response, which seeks to explain the force’s delayed response to the Capitol.
For example, the committee learned that the commander of the DC National Guard, Maj. Gen. William Walker, “strongly” considered deploying troops to the US Capitol on the afternoon of January 6 without approval from his superiors even if it meant he would have to resign the next day.
The committee could not confirm a second-hand account from former Trump aide Cassidy Hutchinson that she was told that Trump lunged at his top Secret Service agent while in his presidential SUV on Jan. 6 and tried to grab the steering wheel because he was angry that he wasn’t taken to the Capitol.
Perhaps in an effort to pivot beyond the explosive anecdote itself, the select committee emphasized that their goal was to discover the intent behind Trump’s actions in the SUV. Many witnesses, including Trump press secretary Kayleigh McEnany and the Secret Service press secretary, have said Trump wanted to go to the Capitol and became angry when told he couldn’t.
Both the driver of Trump’s SUV and the lead Secret Service agent that day, Robert Engel, told the panel that they did not remember the events of that day the way Hutchinson described them.
“Engel did not characterize the exchange in the vehicle in the way Hutchinson described the account she heard from (Deputy White House Chief of Staff Tony) Ornato, and indicated that he did not recall President Trump gesturing at him,” the panel wrote.
Engel also told the panel that he did not remember being present when Ornato told the story with Hutchinson in the room.
Hutchinson testified over the summer that she was told the story by Ornato while Engel was in the room and he did not dispute Ornato’s story.
The driver of the vehicle testified to the committee that he did not recall seeing what Trump was doing or whether there was any movement.
But the driver described Trump as “animated and irritated” and testified that shortly after getting into the vehicle, Trump said, “I’m the president and I decide where to go.”
Ornato told the panel that he did not recall the communication about the incident in the SUV and that he had no knowledge of Trump’s anger, the report said.
The committee makes clear in its report that it does not find Ornato’s testimony credible.
The committee’s report highlights how the House’s successful court battles to pry loose documents, emails and phone records played an important role in helping the committee flesh out its January 6 narrative.
Some of the most explosive moments in the committee’s investigation stemmed from records obtained by the committee, from text messages from former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and other top aides to emails from conservative attorney John Eastman about Vice President Mike Pence’s role on Jan. 6.
The committee obtained Eastman’s emails after a judge sided with the House in a lawsuit in which the committee charged both Eastman and Trump with a criminal conspiracy to obstruct Congress and to defraud the government.
The report included some new details from the emails, including how Eastman emailed Trump’s aide the day he wrote his memo that falsely claimed Pence could block certification of the Jan. 6 election. Eastman received a call from the White House switchboard shortly thereafter, according to phone records obtained by the committee.
In addition to Eastman, the committee identifies a little-known pro-Trump attorney as the original architect of the legally dubious fake election scheme: Kenneth Chesebro. “The fake voter plan came from a series of legal memoranda written by an outside legal adviser to the Trump campaign: Kenneth Chesebro,” the report said.
Thursday’s report is the committee’s final word on Jan. 6 — but the committee isn’t done releasing documents just yet.
In addition to its summary and report released this week, the committee also began rolling out some of the closed-door transcripts, including interviews with numerous witnesses who invoked their Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination as well as bombshell testimony from Hutchinson.
More transcripts are expected in the committee’s final days from other testimony, which will bring out more and more details in the hours before the committee dissolves, which is expected in the new Congress.
Several parties will eagerly await their release, including GOP lawmakers and Trump himself, who still faces legal scrutiny on multiple fronts related to his role in the Jan. 6 uprising and efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
The committee has already begun sharing evidence with the Justice Department and special counsel Jack Smith, CNN reported this week.