January 6 panel subpoenas Trump, shows startling new video

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WASHINGTON — The House Jan. 6 committee voted unanimously Thursday to subpoena former President Donald Trump, demanding his personal testimony as he unveiled a startling new video of close aides outlining his multi-part plan to undo his 2020 election defeat which led to ferocity from his supporters. assault on the United States Capitol.

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With alarming messages from the US Secret Service warning of violence and vivid new video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other congressional leaders pleading for help, the panel showed the raw desperation on Capitol Hill. Using language frequently used in indictments, the panel said Trump acted « premeditatedly » before Jan. 6, 2021, despite countless aides and officials telling him he lost.

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Trump is almost certain to fight the subpoena and refuse to testify. On his social media, he blamed the members for not asking him sooner – although he didn’t say he would have complied – and called the panel a « total BUST ».

« We need to request the sworn testimony of the central actor from January 6, » Republican Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the committee’s vice chair, said before the vote.

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At the committee’s 10th public session, just weeks before the congressional midterm elections, the panel summed up Trump’s « staggering betrayal » of his oath of office, as President Bennie Thompson put it. , describing the former president’s unprecedented attempt to prevent Congress from certifying Democrat Joe Biden’s victory.

Although Trump’s subpoena effort may languish, more a nod to history than an effective summons, the committee has made it clear that it plans to send its findings in a criminal referral to the Ministry of Justice.

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In one of its most compelling exhibits, the panel showed never-before-seen footage of congressional leaders calling for help during the assault as Trump refused to call out to the crowd.

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Speaker Pelosi can be seen on a call with the governor of neighboring Virginia, explaining as she shelters with Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and others that the governor of Maryland has also been contacted. Video later shows Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and other GOP leaders as the group asks the Department of Defense for help.

“They break the law in different ways,” Pelosi said at one point. « And quite frankly, largely at the instigation of the President of the United States. »

The footage also shows Vice President Mike Pence — not Trump — stepping in to help calm the violence, telling Pelosi and others he has spoken with Capitol police, as Congress plans to resume session this that night to certify Biden’s election.

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Members of the far-right group Proud Boys march towards the US Capitol in Washington, DC on January 6, 2021.

The video was from Pelosi’s daughter, a documentary filmmaker.

In never-before-seen Secret Service messages, the panel produced evidence that extremist groups provided the muscle in the fight for Trump’s presidency, planning weeks before the attack to send a violent force into Washington.

The Secret Service warned in a December 26, 2020 email from a tip that members of the right-wing Proud Boys were planning to outnumber police on a march in Washington on January 6.

« It was like the calm before the storm, » a Secret Service agent wrote in a group chat.

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To describe the president’s state of mind, the committee presented new and previously seen documents, including interviews with top Trump aides and Cabinet officials – including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, prosecutor General William Barr and Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia – in which some described the president acknowledging that he had lost.

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In one, according to ex-White House official Alyssa Farah Griffin, Trump looked up at a television and said, « Can you believe I lost to this guy (expletive )? »

Cabinet members also said in interviews broadcast during the hearing that they believed that once legal avenues were exhausted, that should have been the end of Trump’s efforts to stay in power.

« In my opinion, that was the end of the matter, » Barr said of the Electoral College’s Dec. 14 vote.

But rather than the end of Trump’s efforts, it was just the beginning – as the president summoned the crowd to Washington on Jan. 6.

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The panel showed clips of Trump at his rally near the White House that day, saying the opposite of what he was told. He then tells his followers that he will march with them to the Capitol. It never happened.

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“There is no defense that Donald Trump was duped or irrational,” Cheney said. « No president can defy the rule of law and act that way in our constitutional republic, period. »

Thursday’s hearing opened in a mostly empty Capitol complex, with most lawmakers campaigning at home. Several people who were among the thousands around the Capitol on Jan. 6 are now running for office, some with Trump’s backing. The police who fought off the crowd occupied the front row of the courtroom.

The House panel warned that the insurrection on Capitol Hill was not an isolated incident but a warning of the fragility of national democracy in the post-Trump era.

« None of this is normal, » Cheney said.

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Along with the interviews, the committee is tapping into the treasury of 1.5 million pages of documents it received from the Secret Service, including an email from December 11, 2020, the day the Supreme Court rejected one of the major lawsuits Trump’s team had filed against the election results.

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“Just FYI. POTUS pissed off,” the Secret Service message said.

White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson, a top aide to then-chief of staff Mark Meadows, recalled that Trump was « excited » by the court’s decision.

Trump told Meadows « something to the effect of, ‘I don’t want people to know we lost, Mark. It’s embarassing. Understand it,” Hutchinson told the panel in a taped interview.

Thursday’s session served as closing arguments for the panel’s two Republican lawmakers, Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, who were essentially shunned by Trump and his party and will not return to the new Congress. Cheney lost his primary election and Kinzinger decided not to run.

The committee, after conducting more than 1,000 interviews and obtaining countless documents, produced a thorough investigation into Trump’s activities from his November election defeat to the attack on the Capitol.

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Under committee rules, the Jan. 6 panel must produce a report of its findings, likely in December. The committee will disband 30 days after the publication of this report, and with the new Congress in January.

At least five people died in the Jan. 6 attack and its aftermath, including a Trump supporter shot dead by Capitol police.

More than 850 people have been charged by the Justice Department, some sentenced to long prison terms for their roles. Several leaders and associates of the extremist Oath Keepers and Proud Boys have been charged with sedition.

Trump faces various state and federal investigations into his actions in the election and its aftermath.

– Associated Press writers Mary Clare Jalonick, Jill Colvin, Kevin Freking and Michael Balsamo contributed to this report.

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