Here’s what happened this week
The big news about the January 6 committee came not from inside the Capitol or from investigators or attorneys but from Donald Trump himself. In an expansive interview with The Washington Post from Mar-a-Lago, the former president said he wished he could have marched with the protesters who assaulted the Capitol.
Nonsensically though, he also blamed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser for the invasion. Trump has repeatedly argued that Pelosi and Bowser were ultimately responsible for security failures at the Capitol, even though Pelosi is not in charge of security at the Capitol. Trump has also falsely claimed that Pelosi denied a request for thousands of National Guard troops to secure the Capitol ahead of the certification vote.
Trump’s comments will only fuel more interest by the committee in speaking with him directly. Trump said he has not been asked by the committee to sit down for an interview. He did not say whether he would agree to a request.
“It depends what the request is,” Trump said. Other Trump allies, like Congressmen Jim Jordan and Scott Perry, have refused the committee’s invitation to sit down for interviews. They have not been subpoenaed though.
Notably, Ivanka Trump this week testified before the committee for eight hours. It appears she did not invoke her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination or cite executive privilege in response to any questions. Ivanka’s husband, Jared Kushner, who was also a senior adviser to Trump while in office and was in communication with him on January 6, has already talked to the committee—and, like his wife, did so of his own volition. In the interview with the Post, Trump said he knew little about what his daughter or son-in-law said to the committee. But it’s extremely important that his daughter, one of the most influential people in the Trump administration, spoke with investigators for eight long hours. That’s eight hours of probing questions and responses that will be examined over and over again and lead to more inquiries. It’s also somewhat surprising that someone so close to Trump did not fight talking to the committee, as some of his lower-level allies have. Ivanka knows things. And assuming she spoke truthfully to the committee, now the January 6 committee knows those things too.
The consequences of refusing to comply with the committee were on display this week as well. The House voted this week that Dan Scavino and Peter Navarro, both high-level Trump administration officials, were in contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with the subpoenas issued by the committee as part of its investigation. Elsewhere, a U.S. district judge shot down former Trump chief strategist Steve Bannon’s argument for making his case against two charges of contempt of Congress in front of a jury.
If there’s any emerging pattern here, it’s that some Trump allies know it’s better to comply with the committee than to defy it.
Whom to watch?
Now that the House has referred Navarro and Scavino to the Justice Department for criminal contempt of Congress, all eyes will be on Attorney General Merrick Garland. Some Democrats have expressed frustration with Garland and the department for not acting on the referral of former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows, which the House passed in December. If the Justice Department does not act on the Navarro and Scavino referrals, expect Democrats to become a bit more vocal in their complaints.
- The committee has, at long last, obtained Trump attorney John Eastman’s emails, which he sought to shield from the panel.
- A federal judge found Matthew Martin not guilty on misdemeanor charges, making him the first Capitol riot defendant to be acquitted.
- The Justice Department has charged hundreds of people in connection to the riot, presenting a challenge for the federal grand jury investigating the attack.
- Should the committee issue a criminal referral to the Justice Department for Trump? Some of the panel’s members are skeptical, according to Politico’s Nicholas Wu and Kyle Cheney.
Best quote of the week on January 6
“The crowd was far bigger than I even thought. I believe it was the largest crowd I’ve ever spoken to. I don’t know what that means, but you see very few pictures. They don’t want to show pictures, the fake news doesn’t want to show pictures.”—Former President Donald Trump on the crowd he addressed at the rally that preceded the deadly attack on the Capitol.