December 23

By Kaia Hubbard

The House committee that has spent the last 18 months investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol released a massive report in its final act that lays the blame for the violent events of that day squarely on “one man.”

“The central cause of Jan. 6 was one man, former president Donald Trump, whom many others followed,” the committee wrote in its report as its “overriding” conclusion. “None of the events of Jan. 6 would have happened without him.”

Across eight chapters, the committee details what it’s often referred to and highlighted in its hearings as Trump’s “multi-part conspiracy” to overturn the 2020 presidential election. But a recommendation from the committee toward the end of the 845-page report may be the most revealing – and may come too late.

The committee urges Congress to consider barring Trump from ever holding office again. But with a reelection campaign already underway and as a friendlier GOP majority prepares to gavel in come January, it’s a recommendation that appears doomed from the start.

Citing the Constitution’s 14th Amendment, the committee outlines in its recommendations that an individual who has taken an oath to support the Constitution but has “engaged in an insurrection” against it or aided “enemies of the Constitution,” may be barred from holding future offices.

Earlier this week, that charge – insurrection – was among a group of four the committee recommended against Trump to the Justice Department.

“It’s a grave federal offense anchored in the Constitution itself which repeatedly opposes domestic violence and and adheres insurrection as automatic grounds from ever holding office again,” Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland said Monday of the statute under which the committee referred Trump.

The blistering report, the culmination of interviews with more than 1,000 witnesses and the review of countless documents, recalls in breathtaking detail what the committee described across a number of hearings earlier this year – from the pre-election plot to claim victory no matter the outcome to Trump’s hours-long stint in front of the television on Jan. 6 as rioters broke into the Capitol, refusing to issue a statement asking them to leave.

It details how Trump did not, by any accounts, express regret or grief over the events that had transpired on Jan. 6, while noting that some of those close to him made comments connecting the former president to the violence.

The report also takes aim at individuals that helped Trump propagate the “big lie” like attorney John Eastman and Rudy Giuliani. And while committee members celebrated the many individuals who served as “guardrails on Donald Trump’s abuses,” preventing his plan from succeeding, it also took note of those who appeared open to aiding him in his effort, like Pennsylvania state Sen. Doug Mastriano, who later launched a bid for governor.

Along with its report, the committee also released dozens of transcripts this week – while more are expected – from interviews with individuals like Roger Stone, Alex Jones and star-witness Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to White House chief of staff Mark Meadows who provided some of the most dramatic testimony before the committee at a public hearing earlier this year.

The transcripts seemed to add credence to the committee’s suggestion that someone in Trump’s sphere had attempted to tamper with one of the committee’s witnesses. Hutchinson expressed that Stefan Passantino, one of her attorneys who is associated with the Trump world, pressured her to pretend she did not remember in response to questioning, while offering her job opportunities.

“The less you remember the better,” Hutchinson recalled Passantino telling her. She told the committee that he told her not to “go there” when she mentioned the incident where she was told Trump lunged at a Secret Service agent after being denied the ability to join the rioters on Jan. 6, a scene that she later detailed to the committee during what became one of the most notable of the committee’s public hearings.

Indeed, the report, highlighting the blockbuster moments of the many hearings, alongside detailed findings and legislative recommendations, paints a damning portrait of Trump unlike anything the committee has previously produced.

The pushback from Trump was unexpectedly swift, with the former president taking to his social media platform to push renewed claims that the election was stolen and that the committee is highly partisan.

“TRUMP WON, BIG!” Trump wrote Friday morning, two years after the election results favored President Joe Biden.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California likewise criticized the House panel this week, writing in a tweet that “Pelosi’s Select Committee has been focused on political theater and posturing,” while propping up a counter report from House Republicans – would-be committee members known as the “shadow committee” – focusing on security failures on Jan. 6 released earlier this week.

Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson of Mississippi seemed to acknowledge criticisms from the group of Republiclicans in a foreword of the report, writing that “relevant oversight committees and watchdogs should continue to find efficiencies and improvements.”“But the shortfall of communications, intelligence and law enforcement around January 6th was much less about what they did or did not or did not know,” Thompson wrote. “It was about what they could not know. The president of the United States inciting a mob to march on the Capitol and impede the work of Congress is not a scenario our intelligence and law enforcement communities envisioned for this country. Prior to January 6th, it was unimaginable.”

The report comes nearly two years after the attack on the Capitol, which marred the start of the 117th Congress. In its final days, lawmakers are expected to pass a massive bill to fund the government, which includes another of the panel’s legislative recommendations – reforming the Electoral Count Act aimed at preventing another attack like on Jan. 6, 2021 by clarifying the language around the vice president’s role in certifying the election results.

With its final report filed, the panel is set to dissolve in a matter of days. But the committee’s vice chairwoman, Liz Cheney of Wyoming, noted in her foreword that the panel’s investigation “is just a beginning.”

“It is only an initial step in addressing President Trump’s effort to remain in office illegally,” she wrote. “Prosecutors are considering the implications of the conduct we describe in this report.”