WASHINGTON — The House Jan. 6 committee released its formal report on Thursday, the culmination of its historic 18-month investigation into the deadly attack on the Capitol and former President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
“This report will provide greater detail about Donald Trump’s multistep effort to overturn the 2020 election and block the transfer of power,” Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., wrote in the report’s forward on January 6.
“Building on the information presented in our hearings earlier this year, we will present new findings about Trump’s pressure campaign on officials from the local level all the way up to his Vice President, orchestrated and designed solely to throw out the will of the voters and keep him in office past the end of his elected term,” he wrote.
The committee released the more-than-800-page report just days after its nine members — seven Democrats and two Republicans — voted to recommend that the Justice Department pursue criminal charges against Trump if he runs for president again in 2024.
It was the first time in history that a congressional committee recommended criminal charges against a sitting president of the United States. The panel, led by Thompson and Vice Chair Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., believes there is enough evidence for the Justice Department to charge Trump with four specific charges, including obstruction of an official proceeding — Congress’ certification of electoral votes — and inciting or assisting others in an insurgency.
Consistent with the committee’s summer hearings and executive summary, the full report — divided into eight chapters — largely blames the 45th president for the Jan. 6 attack.
The first chapter is titled “THE BIG LIE,” a reference to Trump’s widespread effort to delegitimize the 2020 election and falsely claim it was stolen, while the second chapter, “I JUST WANT TO FIND 11,780 VOTES,” focuses on Trump’s efforts to pressure state and election officials in Georgia and other places to overturn the election results.
Witnesses, nearly all of whom were Republicans, testified that Trump and his inner circle had worked feverishly to cast doubt on Joe Biden’s legitimate election victory; launched a multi-pronged campaign to pressure state officials, senior members of the Justice Department, and then-Vice President Mike Pence to help overturn the election; and directed a mob of thousands of his supporters to march on the Capitol to disrupt lawmakers’ counting of the electoral votes that would cert
“Among the most heinous findings of this committee was that President Trump sat in the dining room off the Oval Office watching the violent riot at the Capitol on television. “No man who would behave that way at that time can ever serve in any position of authority in our country again,” Cheney said at Monday’s meeting. “He is unfit for any office.”
According to the committee’s report, Trump and his inner circle engaged in at least 200 public or private acts of “outreach, pressure, or condemnation” directed at state and local election officials, as well as state legislators, between Trump’s loss in November and Jan. 6.
According to the committee, there were 68 meetings, phone calls, or texts directed at state or local officials, 18 public remarks directed at them, and 125 social media posts.
The report also revealed more details about the fake elector plan, which the committee claims Trump embraced when it became clear that state officials in Georgia, Arizona, Pennsylvania, and other key battleground states would not overturn the results and replace Biden electors with Trump electors.
While the committee referred conservative attorney John Eastman to the Justice Department on Monday for his role in the scheme to pressure Pence to reject states’ electoral votes on Jan. 6, the report identifies Trump-allied lawyer Kenneth Chesebro as central to conceptualising the plot.
The committee also issued a number of recommendations to both Congress and federal agencies, as mandated. It called for changes to the Electoral Count Act of 1887 to make it clear that the vice president does not have the authority to reject electoral votes unilaterally, an update that is already in the works. As part of the omnibus spending bill, Congress will consider such a recommendation this week.
The panel also urged congressional committees to consider establishing a “formal mechanism” to determine whether Trump and others named in the report should be barred from holding future office under the 14th Amendment.
Furthermore, the Jan. 6 committee recommended that federal agencies implement a “whole-of-government strategy” to identify and combat violent extremism, including white nationalists. In addition, it urged law enforcement to designate future presidential election certifications as a “national special security event.” This would necessitate more planning, coordination, and security for future Jan. 6 certification events at the Capitol.
“Driven by our investigative findings, these recommendations will help strengthen the guardrails of our democracy,” Thompson wrote.
The report is the result of an extensive congressional investigation that included 11 public hearings, more than 100 subpoenas, more than 1,200 witness interviews, and the collection of hundreds of thousands of text messages, emails, and other documents.
The committee has already begun releasing dozens of transcripts from witnesses who invoked their Fifth Amendment rights, including Trump associates Eastman, Roger Stone, Michael Flynn, and Jeffrey Clark.
The Jan. 6 panel released transcripts of former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony, in which she testified that Trump was aware the mob was armed when he sent it to the Capitol and that he attempted to join his supporters there.
In the coming days, the committee intends to release additional transcripts from interviews and depositions, as well as video and other documents and records.
Because House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., established it as a “select” committee, it will expire at the end of the year. Republicans, who will take control of the House in January, have no plans to renew it.
Pelosi praised Thompson, Cheney, and the other Jan. 6 members for their “consistent, patriotic leadership” at her final news conference as speaker on Thursday.
“The 117th Congress began with a violent assault on our democracy, and now we hear its conclusions,” she said. “We have a critical road map to ensure that justice is served… and that this does not happen again.”