Jan. 6 Committee Final Report and American Oversight Investigations

On Thursday night, the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol released its final report of findings, having earlier in the week voted to send criminal referrals to the Justice Department for former President Donald Trump and key allies for attempting to overturn the 2020 election.

Trump “purposely disseminated false allegations of fraud related to the 2020 presidential election” and “provoked his supporters to violence on January 6th,” the committee wrote in its executive summary. The criminal charges recommended for Trump include obstruction of an official proceeding, conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to make a false statement, and inciting an insurrection. The committee also recommended that Trump be barred from holding future office under the 14th Amendment.

American Oversight’s investigations of Trump’s attempt to overturn his loss and the government’s response to the insurrection have resulted in the release of key documents that align with a number of the committee’s findings, from the fake electors scheme to the Trump administration’s response to the violence on Jan. 6.

Jan. 6 Response and Deleted Texts

The committee’s final report highlights Trump’s failure to call for an end to the violence on the afternoon of Jan. 6, having refused “repeated requests over a multiple hour period that he instruct his violent supporters to disperse and leave the Capitol, and instead watched the violent attack unfold on television.”

Neither did Trump give any order to deploy the National Guard to the Capitol. While the committee found no evidence that the Pentagon’s slow mobilization of the National Guard was intentional, the delay raised a number of questions about what was behind the stymied response. This summer, American Oversight published a comprehensive, minute-by-minute timeline of the events of that day, based on records we obtained, public reporting, and evidence released by the committee. The records include a handwritten National Guard timeline noting the early request for assistance.

Also among the records obtained by American Oversight and featured in the timeline are the call logs of top Justice Department officials from that day, as well as internal Secret Service security alerts and a Secret Service timeline of former Vice President Mike Pence’s movements. Many of those records were cited by the Washington Post in its Pulitzer Prize-winning report about the events leading up to, during, and after the Jan. 6 attack. 

American Oversight later discovered through litigation that the Department of Defense and the Army had wiped the phones of top officials at the end of the Trump administration — including texts from Jan. 6. Those revelations in August came shortly after the Secret Service came under fire for also having deleted text messages from Jan. 6. Within days, the Pentagon publicly announced a new policy regarding the preservation of text messages and other information stored on mobile devices. The Department of Homeland Security, which houses the Secret Service, also announced it would stop wiping the phones of high-level officials without backing them up, and would launch a review of its record retainment practices.

The ‘Alternate’ Electors Plot

A major focus of the committee’s report is how Trump “unlawfully pressured state officials and legislators to change the results of the election in their states” and “oversaw” the coordinated, multi-state scheme to submit false slates of Trump-supporting electors to Congress and the National Archives. 

American Oversight first obtained the fraudulent certificates in March 2021, which drew renewed attention in January 2022. The committee later issued subpoenas to 14 of the false electors. Records we obtained show that several of the false electors have been involved in partisan and problematic election investigations in several states — investigations that have served to perpetuate lies about election integrity and undermine faith in democracy.

Pressure on the U.S. Justice Department and State Officials

A major target of Trump’s corrupt efforts was the U.S. Justice Department, where he hatched a scheme to replace acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen with loyalist Jeffrey Clark, who would help elevate Trump’s lies about widespread fraud. The plan was scrapped after top officials threatened to resign: Documents released in response to our litigation revealed text messages sent by Claire Murray, then a principal deputy associate attorney general, saying, “Justice is our client.” Murray added that she would “walk” if Rosen were “fired for not publicly espousing a falsehood.” 

A chapter titled “I Just Want to Find 11,780 Votes” — a reference to Trump’s infamous January 2021 call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger — recounts how Trump and his campaign sought to pressure state leaders and election officials to flip the results in his favor.

In its report, the committee cites audio that American Oversight obtained and published from a phone call Trump made in late December 2020 to Georgia’s lead election investigator. “When the right answer comes out, you’ll be praised,” Trump told her. The report also discusses White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows’ trip to Georgia’s Cobb County at that time to visit the audit of absentee ballots; we uncovered an email from Meadows aide Cassidy Hutchinson to Georgia’s deputy secretary of state regarding Meadows’ visit.

Continuing Threats to Democracy

Emails, texts, and other documents uncovered through American Oversight’s investigation of the discredited and partisan Arizona election “audit” showed how the pressure on state officials to reverse the election set the stage for democracy-undermining efforts that continued even after the election results were certified.

In late December 2020, Arizona Senate President Karen Fann responded to a constituent’s email by writing that she had “been in numerous conversations” with Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, whose post-election pressure on Maricopa County officials to “get this thing fixed up” is detailed in the committee’s report. Fann said that she had spoken with Giuliani “over the past weeks trying to get this [forensic audit] done,” adding that she had his “full support” and had even received a “personal call from President Trump thanking us for pushing to prove any fraud.”

In addition to its report, the Jan. 6 committee released more than 30 transcripts from its interviews with various witnesses, most of whom invoked their Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination. This included expected names like lawyer John Eastman and former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark, but also included the transcript of Trump campaign adviser Mike Roman, who appears to have been involved in the fake electors plot. American Oversight also obtained records revealing that Roman played a role in the Arizona “audit.”

While the ploy to overturn Trump’s loss ultimately failed, the lies upon which it was founded have not dissipated. Rather, they have fed an ongoing anti-democratic movement and a network of election-denial activists that threaten U.S. democracy. Over the past two years, American Oversight has filed multiple lawsuits in state and federal courts seeking records that could shed light on the events leading up to and during the Jan. 6 attack, as well as documents that could further illuminate the coordinated and ongoing efforts of election deniers across the country. Read more here

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