Los Angeles Times

Prime-time Jan. 6 hearing to focus on Trump inaction


WASHINGTON — A House committee’s primetime hearing Thursday will offer the most compelling evidence yet of then-President Trump’s “derelictio­n of duty” on the day of the Jan. 6 insurrecti­on, with new witnesses detailing his failure to stem an angry mob storming the Capitol, committee members said Sunday.

“This is going to open people’s eyes in a big way,” said Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), a member of the House committee investigat­ing the riot who will help lead Thursday’s session with Rep. Elaine Luria (DVa.). “The president didn’t do anything.”

After a yearlong investigat­ion, the Jan. 6 committee is seeking to wrap up what may be its last hearing, even as its inquiry continues to heat up.

The committee says it continues to receive fresh evidence each day and isn’t ruling out additional hearings or interviews with a bevy of people close to the former president. One such figure is Stephen K. Bannon, whose trial begins this week on criminal contempt of Congress charges for refusing to comply with the House committee’s subpoena.

The committee also issued an extraordin­ary subpoena last week to the Secret Service to produce texts by Tuesday from Jan. 5 and Jan. 6, 2021, following conflictin­g reports about whether they were deleted.

Panel members say Thursday’s hearing will be the most specific to date in laying out and weaving together details on how Trump’s actions were at odds with his constituti­onal legal duty to stop the Jan. 6 riot. Unlike members of the public who generally have no duty to take action to prevent a crime, the Constituti­on requires a president to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”

“The commander in chief is the only person in the Constituti­on whose duty is explicitly laid out to ensure that the laws are faithfully executed,” Luria said. “I look at it as a derelictio­n of duty. [Trump] didn’t act. He had a duty to act.”

Thursday’s hearing will be the first in the prime-time slot since the June 9 debut that was viewed by an estimated 20 million people.

Luria said the hearing would highlight additional testimony from White House Counsel Pat Cipollone and other witnesses “who will add a lot of value and informatio­n to the events of that critical time on Jan. 6.” She cited Trump’s inaction for more than three hours and a tweet that afternoon criticizin­g Vice President Mike Pence as lacking the “courage” to contest Democrat Joe Biden’s win in the 2020 presidenti­al election.

“We will go through pretty much minute by minute during that time frame, from the time he left the stage at the Ellipse, came back to the White House, and really sat in the White House, in the dining room, with his advisors urging him continuous­ly to take action, to take more action,” Luria said.

The hearing comes at a crucial juncture for the committee, which is racing to wrap up findings for a final report this fall. The committee had originally expected at this point to be concluding much of its investigat­ion with a final hearing but is now considerin­g options for additional interviews and hearings, panel members said.

“This investigat­ion is very much ongoing,” said Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose). “The fact that a series of hearings is going to be concluded this Thursday doesn’t mean that our investigat­ion is over. It’s very active, new witnesses are coming forward, additional informatio­n is coming forward.”

For instance, the committee took a rare step last week in issuing a subpoena to the Secret Service, an executive branch department. That came after it received a closed briefing from the Homeland Security Department watchdog that the Secret Service had deleted texts from around Jan. 6.

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