The House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol has concluded that former President Donald Trump was ultimately responsible for the insurrection, laying out for the public and the Justice Department a trove of evidence for why he should be prosecuted for multiple crimes.
“That evidence has led to an overriding and straight-forward conclusion: the central cause of January 6th was one man, former President Donald Trump, who many others followed,” the committee writes in a summary of its final report released on Monday. “None of the events of January 6th would have happened without him.”
The summary describes in extensive detail how Trump tried to overpower, pressure and cajole anyone who wasn’t willing to help him overturn his election defeat – while knowing that many of his schemes were unlawful. His relentless arm-twisting included election administrators in key states, senior Justice Department leaders, state lawmakers, and others. The report even suggests possible witness tampering with the committee’s investigation.
The committee repeatedly uses forceful language to describe Trump’s intent: that he “purposely disseminated false allegations of fraud” in order to aid his efforts to overturn the 2020 election and to successfully solicit about $250 million in political contributions. “These false claims provoked his supporters to violence on January 6th.”
The full report, based on 1,000-plus interviews, documents collected including emails, texts, phone records and a year and a half of investigation by the nine-member bipartisan committee, will be released Wednesday, along with along with transcripts and other materials collected in the investigation.
Here’s what’s in the report summary:
The House committee lays out a number of criminal statutes it believes were violated in the plots to stave off Trump’s defeat and says there’s evidence for criminal referrals to the Justice Department for Trump, Trump attorney John Eastman and “others.”
The report summary says there’s evidence to pursue Trump on multiple crimes, including obstruction of an official proceeding, conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to make false statements, assisting or aiding an insurrection, conspiring to injure or impede an officer and seditious conspiracy.
The committee says it also has the evidence to refer Eastman on the obstruction charge, and it names him as a co-conspirator in other alleged criminal activity lawmakers have gathered evidence on.
In addition, several others are named as being participants in the conspiracies the committee is linking to Trump, including then-DOJ attorney Jeffrey Clark and Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows, as well as Trump-tied lawyers Kenneth Chesebro and Rudy Giuliani.
The committee alluded to evidence of criminal obstruction of the House investigation but the summary does not go into detail about that evidence.
Several of the individuals named by the committee – including Trump, Eastman and Giuliani – had their own responses Monday.
The committee outlines 17 findings from its investigation that underpin its reasoning for criminal referrals, including that Trump knew the fraud allegations he was pushing were false and continued to amplify them anyway.
“President Trump’s decision to declare victory falsely on election night and, unlawfully, to call for the vote counting to stop, was not a spontaneous decision. It was premeditated,” the summary states.
The committee revealed emails from Tom Fitton, president of the conservative group Judicial Watch, from before the 2020 presidential election that say Trump should declare victory regardless of the outcome.
It also notes that Trump’s top allies, including those who testified before the committee, acknowledged they found no proof to back up the former president’s claims.
“Ultimately, even Rudolph Giuliani and his legal team acknowledged that they had no definitive evidence of election fraud sufficient to change the election outcome,” the summary states, referring to Trump’s then-personal attorney.
“For example, although Giuliani repeatedly had claimed in public that Dominion voting machines stole the election, he admitted during his Select Committee deposition that ‘I do not think the machines stole the election,’” it states.
Sources familiar with Trump’s legal strategy in the Justice Department probe have told CNN that his attorneys believe prosecutors face an uphill battle in proving he did not believe the election was stolen despite being told as much by senior members of his own administration.
In making its case for a Justice Department prosecution of Trump, the House committee took aim at that possible defense.
In describing why the committee believes Trump’s conduct meet the prongs of each criminal statute, the summary stresses evidence that Trump had been warned that his schemes were unlawful.
The committee says it gathered evidence indicating that Trump “raised roughly one quarter of a billion dollars in fundraising efforts between the election and January 6th. Those solicitations persistently claimed and referred to election fraud that did not exist.”
“For example, the Trump Campaign, along with the Republican National Committee, sent millions of emails to their supporters, with messaging claiming that the election was ‘rigged,’ that their donations could stop Democrats from ‘trying to steal the election,’ and that Vice President Biden would be an ‘illegitimate president’ if he took office,’” the summary states.
The select committee is referring several Republican lawmakers who refused to cooperate with the investigation to the House Ethics Committee.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, as well as Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio, Scott Perry of Pennsylvania and Andy Biggs of Arizona, could all face possible sanctions for their refusal to comply with committee subpoenas.
The committee raised concerns that attorneys paid by Trump’s political committee or allied groups were incentivized to protect the former president, saying, “lawyers who are receiving such payments have specific incentives to defend President Trump rather than zealously represent their own clients. The Department of Justice and the Fulton County District Attorney have been provided with certain information related to this topic.”
In one instance, a witness whose lawyer was being paid by a Trump-allied group was told she could “in certain circumstances, tell the Committee that she did not recall facts when she actually did recall them.” When the witness raised concerns with her lawyer about that approach, the lawyer said, “They don’t know what you know, [witness]. They don’t know that you can recall some of these things. So you saying ‘I don’t recall’ is an entirely acceptable response to this,” according to the report summary.
When it came to a specific issue that reflected negatively on Trump, the lawyer told his client, “No, no, no, no, no. We don’t want to go there. We don’t want to talk about that.”
The committee notes both Trump and his allies attempted to contact witnesses ahead of their committee testimony.
“The Select Committee is aware of multiple efforts by President Trump to contact Select Committee witnesses. The Department of Justice is aware of at least one of those circumstances,” according to the summary.
The committee also, in its final report, highlighted two high-profile witnesses – Ivanka Trump and then-White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany – as being less cooperative than others. They and others “displayed a lack of full recollection of certain issues, or were not otherwise as frank or direct as Cipollone.”
In another instance, Trump had an angry conversation with Pence in which he referred to the then-vice president as “The P word,” according to a committee interview with Ivanka Trump’s chief of staff, Julie Radford.
In Radford’s recollection, the name-calling was upsetting to Ivanka at the time, but when the committee asked Ivanka whether there were any “particular words” her father used in the conversation with Pence, “She answered simply: ‘No.’”
The summary states: “In several circumstances, the Committee has found that less senior White House aides had significantly better recollection of events than senior staff purported to have.”
As for McEnany, the committee called her testimony “evasive, as if she was testifying from pre-prepared talking points,” noting she was deposed early in the investigation and wasn’t as forthcoming as others from Trump’s press office.
The report points the finger at two Trump appointees at the Justice Department who the committee believes abused their positions and acted unethically.
Clark, the former acting assistant attorney general for the Civil Division, is already well known for trying to weaponize the Justice Department to help Trump overturn the 2020 election. The committee raises the prospect that Clark broke the law. The Justice Department is already investigating Clark and federal agents have searched his home.
One of the most egregious things Clark did was draft a letter for the Justice Department to send to election officials in battleground states, urging them to essentially overturn their results. The letter, crafted with help from fellow Trump appointee Ken Klukowski, falsely asserted that the department believed there were problems with the results.
“This was an intentional choice by Jeff Clark to contradict specific Department findings on election fraud, and purposely insert the Department into the Presidential election on President Trump’s behalf and risk creating or exacerbating a constitutional crisis,” the summary states.
In a new development, the panel flagged its concerns about Klukowski’s conduct.
He worked for the Trump campaign before joining the Justice Department during the final weeks of the administration. And while at the department’s civil division, he spent some of his time helping Clark with his attempts to overturn the election, “despite the fact that election-related matters are not part of the Civil portfolio,” the summary says.
The summary’s section outlining the referrals makes a case for why the Justice Department’s prosecutions should extend beyond the rioters who physically breached the Capitol.
The committee says that Trump “believed then, and continues to believe now, that he is above the law, not bound by our Constitution and its explicit checks on Presidential authority.”
“If President Trump and the associates who assisted him in an effort to overturn the lawful outcome of the 2020 election are not ultimately held accountable under the law, their behavior may become a precedent and invitation to danger for future elections,” the summary says. “A failure to hold them accountable now may ultimately lead to future unlawful efforts to overturn our elections, thereby threatening the security and viability of our Republic.”
The summary revisits Trump’s infamous phone call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, where he begged Raffensperger to “find” enough votes to nullify Biden’s victory in the state. The summary also highlights that Trump doxed the leader of the Michigan Senate by tweeting out his cell phone number after he publicly said he wouldn’t undermine the election results.
Lawmakers also highlighted the plight of former Georgia election workers Ruby Freeman and Wandrea “Shaye” Moss, who previously testified about the abuse they suffered when Giuliani and others in pro-Trump circles falsely accused them of rigging the results in Atlanta.
Like Freeman and Moss, other officials who faced Trump’s ire received death and rape threats and an avalanche of phone calls and emails, and some of them feared for their safety.
The evidence that Trump allies sought pardons as the administration drew to a close shows that they knew their conduct was legally problematic, the committee argues.
The summary points to previously public accounts of pardon requests from members of Congress, while providing new details of Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz’s alleged attempt for a pardon, which had been discussed in the public committee testimony of ex-White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson.
CNN previously reported that the McEntee testimony linked Gaetz’s pardon request to a separate DOJ probe; Hutchinson, however, said Gaetz and others asked “blanket” pardons for participants at a meeting where election-related schemes were discussed.
The summary of the report lays out how the intelligence community and law enforcement agencies were receiving information that January 6 was likely to be violent and shared that information with the White House and US Secret Service.
For example, on January 3, 2021, Department of Justice officials received an intelligence summary of plans to “occupy the Capitol” and “invade” the Capitol on January 6. According to testimony from Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, then-Deputy Secretary of Defense David Norquist predicted on a National Security Council call that the Capitol could be the target of violence.
“I’ll never forget it,” Milley said in testimony revealed by the committee.
In pictures: The January 6 hearings
The panel suggests former White House deputy chief of staff Tony Ornato failed to adequately serve as the intermediary between the intelligence community and the White House when it came to security updates ahead of January 6.
“Ornato had access to intelligence that suggested violence at the Capitol on January 6th, and it was his job to inform Meadows and Trump of that. Although Ornato told us that he did not recall doing so, the Select Committee found multiple parts of Ornato’s testimony questionable,” the panel wrote.
The head of Trump’s security detail, Bobby Engel, testified to the committee that he shared critical information with Ornato as a means to convey messages to the White House.
Ornato confirmed Engel’s understanding of information sharing, but when pressed on whether he talked to Meadows about concerns of the threat landscape going into January 6 said, “I don’t recall; however, in my position I would’ve made sure he was tracking the demos, which he received a daily brief, Presidential briefing. So he most likely was getting all this in his daily brief as well.”
Staffers close to Trump told the committee they tried to get the then-president to act preemptively to quell concerns about January 6.
Hope Hicks, Trump’s former communications director, texted spokesman Hogan Gidley as the violence was unfolding on January 6 that she had “suggested…several times” on January 4 and 5 that Trump should publicly state that January 6 remain peaceful. Hicks also testified that Herschmann advised Trump to make a preemptive public statement ahead of January 6 calling for there to be no violence that day. No such statement was ever made.
By the time of Trump’s rally on January 6, the committee says testimony it received indicates that the former president had received a security briefing and that the Secret Service mentioned that there were prohibited items being confiscated from individuals trying to attend.
The committee highlights Trump’s frustration with not being taken to the Capitol on January 6 as evidence that he intended to participate in efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election.
“The Committee’s principal concern was that the President actually intended to participate personally in the January 6th efforts at the Capitol, leading the attempt to overturn the election either from inside the House Chamber, from a stage outside the Capitol, or otherwise,” the summary of the report reads. “There is no question from all the evidence assembled that President Trump did have that intent.”
The report details that the panel was ultimately unable to get Ornato to corroborate a bombshell moment during the public hearings, in which Hutchinson recalled Ornato describing Trump’s altercation with the head of his security detail when he was told he would not be taken to the Capitol. The committee summary said both Hutchinson and a White House employee testified to the committee about the Ornato conversation. But “Ornato professed that he did not recall either communication, and that he had no knowledge at all about the President’s anger.”
Ultimately, the committee writes that it “has significant concerns about the credibility of this testimony” and vows to release his transcript publicly. Ornato did not recall conveying the information to Hutchinson or a White House employee with national security responsibilities, according to the report.
“The Committee is skeptical of Ornato’s account.”
The panel writes that it has obtained evidence from “several sources about a ‘furious interaction’ in the SUV.” The panel cites multiple members of the Secret Service, a member of the Washington, DC, Metropolitan Police and national security officials in the White House who described Trump’s behavior as “irate,” “furious,” “insistent,” “profane” and “heated.”
The driver of Trump’s motorcade on January 6 testified to the committee:
Trump’s former press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Trump continued to push to travel to the Capitol even after he returned to the White House.
“So to the best of my recollection, I recall him being – wanting to saying that he wanted to physically walk and be a part of the march and then saying that he would ride the Beast if he needed to, ride in the Presidential limo,” McEnany said.
Another intent the committee’s report summary seeks to prove is that Trump’s call to his supporters to go the Capitol during his rally speech was pre-planned.
For example, the committee notes that January 6 rally organizer Kylie Kremer texted MyPIllow CEO Mike Lindell, “This stays only between us. … It can also not get out about the march because I will be in trouble with the national park service and all the agencies but POTUS is going to just call for it ‘unexpectedly.’”
The committee lays out Trump’s failure to act as the riot unfolded, noting that as he watched the riot on television, he made no calls for security assistance and resisted efforts from staffers asking him to call off his supporters.
“President Trump did not contact a single top national security official during the day. Not at the Pentagon, nor at the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, the F.B.I., the Capitol Police Department, or the D.C. Mayor’s office,” the committee writes. “As Vice President Pence has confirmed, President Trump didn’t even try to reach his own Vice President to make sure that Pence was safe.”
Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the committee he had this reaction to Trump, “You know, you’re the Commander in Chief. You’ve got an assault going on on the Capitol of the United States of America. And there’s nothing? No call? Nothing? Zero?”
Trump did, however, take the time to reach out to his attorney.
White House staffers, meantime, described being appalled that as the Capitol was under attack, Trump fired off a tweet criticizing Pence.
Hicks texted a colleague that night to say, “Attacking the VP? Wtf is wrong with him,” according to the committee’s summary report.
“No photographs exist of the President for the remainder of the afternoon until after 4 p.m. President Trump appears to have instructed that the White House photographer was not to take any photographs,” the committee writes, citing testimony from former White House photographer Shealah Craighead.
In the aftermath, on the evening of January 6, Trump’s former campaign manager Brad Parscale told Katrina Pierson, one of the rally organizers, that that he felt guilty helping Trump win, the report states..
The events of the day, Parscale said, resulted from “a sitting president asking for civil war.”
The committee also highlights real-time reactions from Republican members of Congress who have since downplayed the Capitol attack or defended Trump.
Trump’s son-in-law and former White House senior adviser Jared Kushner described House GOP leader McCarthy as “scared” as McCarthy reached out to members of Trump’s family for help during the riot.
In a text to then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene wrote, “Mark I was just told there is an active shooter on the first floor of the Capitol Please tell the President to calm people This isn’t the way to solve anything,” according to the summary.
The committee reveals a conversation Trump had with a White House employee upon returning to the White House after his speech on January 6. Trump’s actions and conversations from when he returned to the White House to when he called off the rioters, referred to famously as the 187 minutes, continues to have huge gaps of information.
He asked the White House employee – whose identity the panel kept anonymous “to guard against the risk of retaliation” – if they had watched his rally speech on television. The White House employee responded, “Sir, they cut it off because they’re rioting down at the Capitol.”
When Trump asked what they meant, the employee repeated:
The summary acknowledges the roadblocks the House committee ran into in its investigation and says the Justice Department has the tools – such as grand jury subpoena power – to knock down those obstacles.
The summary also notes the invocations of privilege made by former Trump White House counsel Pat Cipollone that prevented the committee from learning details about direct conversations with Trump. But the panels appears optimistic that a recent, under-seal court victory the DOJ secured will allow prosecutors to obtain that testimony from Cipollone.
“Based on the information it has obtained, the Committee believes that Cipollone and others can provide direct testimony establishing that President Trump refused repeatedly, for multiple hours, to make a public statement directing his violent and lawless supporters to leave the Capitol,” the summary says.
More than 30 witnesses before the select committee exercised their Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination and refused, on that basis, to provide testimony. They included individuals central to the investigation, such as Eastman, Clark, Chesebro, Roger Stone, Michael Flynn and others.
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