January 6 committee asks former President Newt Gingrich to sit down for interview

The House Select Committee to Investigate January 6, 2021, uprising released a request Thursday to interview former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

The request from Committee Chairman Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.) cited evidence obtained by the committee showing that Gingrich was in communication with senior advisers to President Donald Trump, including Jared Kushner and Jason Miller, regarding television ads. that amplified false allegations of fraud. in the 2020 elections.

“These publicity efforts were not designed to encourage voting for any particular candidate. Instead, these efforts attempted to cast doubt on the outcome of the election after the vote had already taken place,” Thompson said in a letter to Gingrich notifying him of the interview request. “They encouraged members of the public to contact their state officials and pressure them to challenge and overturn the election results. To that end, these ads were intentionally aired in the days leading up to December 14, 2020, the day voters in every state come together to vote for President and Vice President.

Thompson also wrote that the committee obtained evidence suggesting Gingrich was involved in the bogus election plot designed to encourage Vice President Mike Pence and members of Congress to influence the outcome of the joint session of Congress on January 6, 2021. .

In an email sent on Nov. 12, 2020, Gingrich asked White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, “Is someone responsible for coordinating all the voters? Evans points out that all contested voters must meet on [D]December 14 and send out ballots to force contests that the chamber would have to settle.

Gingrich, according to the letter, also continued to pressure Meadows on the evening of January 6, 2021, after the attack, asking, “[a]regarding letters from state legislators regarding voter recall[?]”

A look at the January 6 hearings so far – and what comes next

Committee investigators spent much of the Congressional recess in August interviewing witnesses, tracking down new threads that have cropped up throughout the investigation, and tracking down information that has not yet reached the committee. and to those who have so far refused to cooperate.

Investigators continued to receive a steady stream of new documents – including a slice of Secret Service files and two years of text messages from Alex Jones which were accidentally given to the plaintiffs’ attorney suing the conspiracy theorist.

Investigators have also been working to recover missing text messages from the Secret Service and Defense Department after the committee learned earlier this summer that the two agencies had erased communications from the phones of former and current officials who are being considered by the committee. as key witnesses to understand the answer. to the insurrection. They expect to retrieve some of the missing information from carriers – such as timestamps, recipients and senders of SMS and calls, and voicemails, but they are unsure whether they can get the actual content of the communications, according to people familiar with the committee’s work who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the committee’s internal conversations.

The committee was particularly interested in delving into the role played by the Secret Service around Jan. 6, amid suspicions about the agency’s transparency with congressional investigators.

“We are coming back to everyone involved – both motorcades – to dig into a lot more details,” a person involved in the investigation said, referring to Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony about what happened as Trump left the Ellipse after his speech that day. Hutchinson testified under oath that these details were passed to him by Anthony Ornato, a Secret Service agent who also served as Trump’s deputy chief of staff.

People involved in the committee’s work say it was not until investigators heard of a “national security” professional working at the White House on the day of the attack, who testified anonymously, that the committee was able to obtain Secret Service radio conversations around Pence. evacuation of the Capitol on January 6.

Investigators have returned to the Secret Service to demand this recording of radio traffic when they requested it a year ago. The committee is still unsure whether it has obtained all of the recordings from the relevant stations, as there are more than two dozen radio stations on which the Secret Service communicates in the Washington area.

Six hours of paralysis: Inside Trump’s inability to act after mob storms Capitol

This isn’t the first time investigators have come up against the Trump administration’s poor and improper record-keeping practices, and lawmakers on the panel are still interested in identifying the documents Meadows allegedly burned in his office fireplace. , according to Hutchinson’s testimony.

Several people familiar with the committee’s work said the panel continues to explore Meadows’ handling of the documents. According to these people, there is still information from Hutchinson’s closed-door depositions that has not yet been made public and needs to be corroborated.

Earlier this month, Meadows made arrangements to return the files to the archives last week following the FBI’s search of Trump’s Florida residence, according to people familiar with the matter, who spoke under the guise of anonymity to share sensitive information.

Meadows has been working with the Archives to retrieve documents related to various requests since last year. He was first engaged with officials at the independent federal agency that preserves government and historical records after discovering that Trump had improperly taken presidential records from the Archives at Mar-a-Lago, the people say.

Committee lawmakers are pushing for more information about the anonymous national security staffer’s testimony presented during the eighth hearing — and want to follow the flow of developments at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, recorded by staff at Trump’s national security. Advice in a chat log.

While the committee hopes to again interview Ornato and Robert Engel, Trump’s former retail chief, there are concerns that the two agents are trying to run out of time. Testimony from Hutchinson and others placed Ornato and Engel, both of whom retained private counsel, at the center of various allegations regarding Trump’s actions on January 6.

The committee also questioned some of Trump’s cabinet secretaries — including Mike Pompeo, Steven Mnuchin, Robert O’Brien and Elaine Chao — about internal post-insurgency conversations regarding the invocation of the 25th Amendment, which provides for the impeachment of Trump. a president due to incapacity. , mental health or physical condition.

The attack: before, during and after

Although there was never a vote on the 25th amendmentthe committee wants to show how seriously many Cabinet secretaries took the invocation of the amendment — and how the threat may have affected Trump’s thinking in the days following Jan. 6.

“The possible invocation of the 25th Amendment is important because it bolsters the argument about how wrong Trump’s behavior was and is an important part of lawmakers’ ongoing campaign to educate the American people about his wrongdoings,” said former House impeachment co-counsel Norman. Eisen.

While the committee’s work so far has been largely linear and followed a chronological timeline, it is now likely to touch on disparate topics.

With Republicans in position to possibly retake the House in November, lawmakers on the panel had at one point determined when the last possible time was to get the report to the government printing press to ensure it would be registered in the Congressional Record by Jan. July 3, 2023.

“We are not going to close the committee until the last day,” said an aide.

The report will likely be written in chapters and legislators should be responsible for overseeing various sections. The committee was ultimately unable to agree on a third-party writer to write the report, in part due to concerns about partisan perceptions.

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