From a nondescript bureau building, a fewer twelve investigators and members of Congress are rushing to dissect what led to the worst onslaught connected the Capitol successful centuries.
Jan. 4, 2022Updated 9:11 a.m. ET
WASHINGTON — Behind closed doors wrong a nondescript bureau gathering astatine the ft of Capitol Hill connected a caller chilly morning, the House enquiry into the Jan. 6 onslaught connected the Capitol was successful afloat swing.
As legislature unit aides shuffled done the halls going astir their mean business, investigators softly pulled shades implicit the windows successful league rooms connected respective antithetic floors and posted “Do Not Disturb” signs.
In 1 specified country sat Ali Alexander, a salient organizer of the Stop the Steal rallies with ties to far-right members of Congress who worked to assistance Donald J. Trump invalidate his 2020 predetermination loss.
A level beneath was Kash Patel, a erstwhile Pentagon main of unit progressive successful discussions astir Capitol security. He had been successful changeless interaction with Mr. Trump’s erstwhile main of staff, Mark Meadows, connected Jan. 6.
Facing questions elsewhere successful the gathering were John Eastman, a lawyer who plotted with Mr. Trump and his allies to overturn the 2020 predetermination results; and Christopher Krebs, the Trump administration’s astir elder cybersecurity official, who was fired aft systematically dismantling Mr. Trump’s mendacious declarations that the presidency had been stolen from him.
The committee scrutinizing the pro-Trump mob onslaught has conducted overmuch of its enquiry successful private, drafting nationalist attraction mostly for the ineligible fights it is waging implicit entree to grounds from Mr. Trump and immoderate of his apical lieutenants. But from a warren of offices successful the O’Neill House Office Building successful Southwest Washington, a fewer twelve investigators and members of Congress person ramped up a sprawling and elaborate probe into the worst American onslaught connected ideology successful centuries.
In caller weeks, with the day of the riot looming connected Thursday, the sheet has redoubled its efforts successful the look of mounting absorption from the erstwhile president. It is rushing to marque arsenic overmuch advancement arsenic imaginable earlier January 2023. Republicans are favored to regain power of the House this fall, and if they do, that is erstwhile they would instrumentality powerfulness and astir surely dissolve the inquiry.
“We worked connected Christmas and connected New Year’s Day,” said Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi and the president of the committee. “The model for getting the occupation done requires weekends and holidays too. There’s a truly steadfast committedness connected the portion of the unit to get it done.”
Working successful color-coded teams, investigators person interviewed much than 300 witnesses, from White House officials adjacent to Mr. Trump to the rioters themselves, and are sorting done much than 35,000 documents. During its archetypal 3 months, from July done September, the committee had less than 30 unit members and spent astir $418,000, according to the latest documents filed with the House. Since then, the sheet has accrued its unit to astir 40 and is looking to prosecute much investigators.
Soon, the enquiry volition participate a caller phase, with plans to clasp a bid of nationalist hearings successful aboriginal outpouring to laic retired immoderate of its findings. Those volition feature, among different topics, authorities predetermination officials testifying to the information and accuracy of the 2020 election. A last study volition beryllium issued, “obviously earlier the November elections,” Mr. Thompson said.
For now, the O’Neill gathering is the main hub of activity, where, depending connected the day, the governmental operative Roger J. Stone Jr., a longtime advisor to Mr. Trump, mightiness look extracurricular flashing his signature Nixon-style “V for victory” motion to a oversea of quality cameras; oregon a lawyer for a Jan. 6 rally planner mightiness get promoting a “treasure trove” of documents helium says volition permission elder Trump allies “quivering successful their boots.” Reporters often dart up and down hallways trying to drawback up to the assorted witnesses leaving the interrogation rooms.
Inside, investigators and members of the nine-person committee are questioning witnesses, with the lawmakers — juggling engaged schedules of level votes and different legislature hearings — often bouncing betwixt the interviews connected a nonstop TV feed.
“We are participating successful the depositions and interviews regularly, and these are rather lengthy,” said Representative Elaine Luria, Democrat of Virginia and a subordinate of the committee. “Even with different enactment that we person to bash passim the day, members are joining regularly to inquire questions astir circumstantial areas.”
The alleged greenish squad is pursuing the wealth way connected to Mr. Trump’s efforts to beforehand the baseless assertion that helium was the rightful victor of the election, including whether immoderate groups defrauded contributors with mendacious statements astir wide predetermination fraud.
The golden squad is scrutinizing immoderate plans Mr. Trump made with members of Congress to effort to overturn the predetermination and his unit run connected local, authorities and Justice Department officials to effort to support himself successful power.
Domestic convulsive extremist groups, specified arsenic the QAnon question and the militia groups, the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys, are the absorption of the purple team. A fourth, the reddish team, is digging into the Jan. 6 rally planners and the Stop the Steal movement.
The committee is led by Mr. Thompson and Representative Liz Cheney, Republican of Wyoming, who serves arsenic vice chairwoman. Its apical 2 investigators — some erstwhile U.S. attorneys — besides travel from antithetic parties.
Timothy J. Heaphy, whom President Barack Obama named U.S. lawyer for the Western District of Virginia, is the Jan. 6 committee’s main investigative counsel; and John Wood, whom President George W. Bush hired arsenic U.S. lawyer for the Western District of Missouri, is the committee’s elder investigative counsel.
Mr. Wood, an state of Ms. Cheney, is intimately supervising the squad focused connected Mr. Trump’s nonstop involvement.
One witnesser precocious interviewed by the committee said arriving astatine the O’Neill building, a gleaming glass-encased behemoth, was similar entering the British quality agency’s headquarters, with its modern lines and sterile feel. A legislature staffer escorted him up an elevator to a country with a U-shaped array and a ample tv connected the wall. The TV had a unrecorded distant provender done which members of the committee could ticker and listen.
The witnesser said that earlier the deposition questioning began, helium had been presented with a ample binder afloat of grounds that investigators had collected connected him. The lawyers conducting the enquiry were often “adversarial and hostile” successful tone, helium said, and were funny successful the astir infinitesimal details, adjacent the moods and emotions of the radical they were asking about.
Key Figures successful the Jan. 6 Inquiry
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The committee appeared to beryllium funny successful a fewer cardinal areas: immoderate connections betwixt the unit that took spot connected Jan. 6 and the radical of governmental activists who planned the pro-Trump rallies that preceded it; immoderate connections betwixt the rally organizers and radical successful Mr. Trump’s orbit, including members of Congress; and immoderate relation that White House aides, Trump run officials and members of Mr. Trump’s household whitethorn person played successful the putting the rallies together.
“These are professionals — these are precise skilled individuals who recognize however to question witnesses to get to the truth,” Ms. Cheney said of the panel’s investigators. “It’s not each antagonistic. We’ve had the payment of scores of radical coming guardant to say, ‘We’d similar to help. We person suggestions for different radical you should speech to.’”
As they investigate, committee members are looking into whether a scope of crimes were committed, including 2 successful particular: whether determination was ligament fraud by Republicans who raised millions of dollars disconnected assertions that the predetermination was stolen, contempt knowing the claims were not true; and whether Mr. Trump and his allies obstructed Congress by trying to halt its ceremonial number of electoral votes.
Recently, the committee has begun issuing subpoenas for slope records. Mr. Thompson said immoderate of the financing of the rallies and advertisements that dispersed the misinformation astir a stolen predetermination could person tally afoul of assorted national laws.
“We person respective subpoenas successful the queue,” Mr. Thompson said successful an interview.
The committee besides is trying to get unreleased takes of Mr. Trump’s Jan. 6 video, successful which helium told rioters — hours into the unit — to spell home, but besides insisted that the predetermination was stolen and fraudulent. “We emotion you. You’re precise special,” Mr. Trump said to the rioters successful the clip that was yet released.
Witnesses person told investigators that Mr. Trump recorded different takes of the video, successful which helium did not archer the assemblage to leave, that were ne'er shown to the public. Mr. Thompson said these takes could shed airy connected his mindset astatine the time.
“We request to cognize arsenic a committee, wherefore did it instrumentality truthful long, arsenic this riot was going connected astatine the Capitol, for you to say, ‘Stop?’ ” Mr. Thompson said of Mr. Trump.
The panel’s investigators person not been slowed by the partisan infighting that sometimes takes spot among committee unit connected different legislature panels. Because Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the number leader, decided Republicans would not enactment successful the panel, determination are nary unit members successful the interviews moving interference for Mr. Trump.
“We’re moving arsenic swiftly arsenic I deliberation immoderate legislature committee ever has,” said Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California, who led the archetypal impeachment proceeding against Mr. Trump.
But the sheet is inactive facing a litany of lawsuits filed by Mr. Trump and his allies to effort to artifact oregon dilatory down the committee’s subpoenas and papers demands. Though the committee has interviewed hundreds of witnesses, immoderate of the astir important person yet to cooperate, Mr. Schiff said.
“Some witnesses are acold much important than others, and I deliberation that immoderate truly important witnesses are attempting to deprive the committee and American radical of what they know,” Mr. Schiff said. “There’s inactive immoderate precise important witnesses and precise important documents we haven’t obtained.”