Los Angeles Times

Jan. 6 panel digs deeper into Trump Cabinet

The committee is also prepared to subpoena conservati­ve activist Ginni Thomas, wife of Clarence Thomas.

- By Hope Yen

WASHINGTON — The House Jan. 6 committee said Sunday it would interview more former Cabinet secretarie­s and is prepared to subpoena conservati­ve activist Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, who’s married to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, as part of its investigat­ion of the Capitol riot and former President Trump’s role.

Lawmakers said they were deepening their inquiry after a series of eight hearings in June and July culminatin­g in a prime-time session Thursday, with plans to interview more witnesses and reconvene in September to resume laying out their findings to the public.

“We anticipate talking to additional members of the president’s Cabinet,” said Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), the committee’s vice chair. “We anticipate talking to additional members of his campaign. Certainly, we’re very focused as well on the Secret Service.”

Cheney did not identify the Trump administra­tion officials who might come forward, but the committee has previously made clear its interest in speaking with those believed to have considered invoking a constituti­onal process in the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office after the riot on Jan. 6, 2021, when hundreds of Trump’s supporters violently stormed the Capitol and interrupte­d the certificat­ion of Joe Biden’s election.

The committee has aired testimony from former Atty. Gen. William Barr, who said he told Trump that widespread voter fraud claims were “bull—” and had “zero basis.”

In last week’s hearing, the committee played testimony from then-Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia, who said he urged Trump to call a Cabinet meeting to discuss an orderly transition of power.

Other Cabinet members have indicated they may have important details to share.

Betsy DeVos, the Education secretary at the time, previously told USA Today that she raised with Vice President Mike Pence the question of whether the Cabinet should consider invoking the 25th Amendment, which would have required the vice president and the majority of the Cabinet to agree that the president could no longer fulfill his duties.

DeVos, in her resignatio­n letter on Jan. 7, 2021, blamed Trump for inciting the mob. “There is no mistaking the impact your rhetoric had on the situation, and it is the inflection point for me,” she wrote.

On the same day, Elaine Chao quit as Transporta­tion secretary. Chao, who is married to Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, said the attack had “deeply troubled me in a way that I simply cannot set aside.”

Michael R. Pompeo, the secretary of State at the time who is considerin­g a 2024 presidenti­al run, and Steven T. Mnuchin, Trump’s Treasury secretary, also were reported to have discussed the possibilit­y of invoking the 25th Amendment, according to Jonathan Karl of ABC News in his book “Betrayal.”

“The floodgates have opened,” said Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Va.), regarding the next phase of the committee’s investigat­ion.

Committee members also hope to learn more about Ginni Thomas’ own effort to keep Trump in office and the potential conflicts of interest for Clarence Thomas as a result on Jan. 6 cases that have come before the Supreme Court.

The committee sent a letter to Ginni Thomas last month seeking an interview and hopes she will comply, Cheney said.

Ginni Thomas communicat­ed with people in Trump’s orbit ahead of the 2021 attack and also on the day of the insurrecti­on.

“We certainly hope that she will agree to come in voluntaril­y,” Cheney said. “But the committee is fully prepared to contemplat­e a subpoena if she does not.”

Cheney also said that while the committee hasn’t decided whether to make a criminal referral regarding Trump to the Justice Department, “that’s absolutely something we’re looking at.”

Added Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.): “I certainly think there’s evidence of crimes, and I think it goes all the way up to Donald Trump.”

Though a possible Trump prosecutio­n is a matter for the Justice Department, the committee has used its hearings to try to make a case about his political viability as he mulls running in 2024.

Some of the most damning testimony aired by the committee has come from Trump’s own top Republican advisors, military leaders and confidants, who admitted to a loss of confidence in his judgment and dedication to the rule of law in the days leading up to and after the Jan. 6 attack.

The committee also wants to get to the bottom of missing Secret Service texts from Jan. 5 and 6, 2021, that could shed further light on Trump’s actions during the insurrecti­on, particular­ly after earlier testimony about his confrontat­ion with agents as he tried to join supporters at the Capitol.

Lawmakers also are interested in hearing from Stephen K. Bannon, a Trump ally who was found guilty last week of criminal contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with the House committee’s subpoena.

Cheney spoke on CNN’s “State of the Union” and “Fox News Sunday.” Kinzinger appeared on ABC’s “This Week,” and Luria was on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

‘I certainly think there’s evidence of crimes, and I think it goes all the way up to Donald Trump.’

— Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.)

 ?? Kent Nishimura Los Angeles Times ?? A PHOTO of Donald Trump is shown on a screen during a hearing of the House Jan. 6 committee on Thursday. The committee plans to interview more witnesses and reconvene in September to resume making its case.
Kent Nishimura Los Angeles Times A PHOTO of Donald Trump is shown on a screen during a hearing of the House Jan. 6 committee on Thursday. The committee plans to interview more witnesses and reconvene in September to resume making its case.

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