Publish Date:January 6, 2023
News Roundup: Two Years After the Jan. 6 Attack
With the new year, the House select committee investigating the attack of Jan. 6, 2021 — which took place two years ago today — has wrapped up its work.
Over the last two weeks, the committee released a trove of interview transcripts, communications, and other documents that, as the New York Times wrote, “touched on nearly every aspect of Mr. Trump’s push to overturn the 2020 election” and “provided new details about how some of his top allies lobbied for aggressive plans to keep him in power.” Here are just some of the revelations from recent weeks:
- White House call logs show several contacts with top Justice Department officials on Jan. 3, as Trump sought to install loyalist Jeffrey Clark as acting attorney general. We previously obtained text messages sent that same day by DOJ officials who threatened to resign if Trump carried out the plan. “Justice is our client,” said one top official.
- Ginni Thomas, a conservative activist and wife of Justice Clarence Thomas, told the committee that she thought “there’s still a lot of things that are still being uncovered,” but admitted she didn’t have any “specific evidence.”
- Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said he first spoke with Trump about the election in August 2021, after Vos launched the partisan — and pricey — election inquiry headed by conservative lawyer Michael Gableman. As the Washington Post noted, “Trump’s approach was far different in Georgia, Arizona and Michigan, where he pressed Republican officials to try to reverse the results in the weeks after the election.”
- Testimony also highlighted the confusion over the deployment of National Guard units to the Capitol, including a disagreement about when the Pentagon finally approved the deployment. (See our timeline for a minute-by-minute account of that day, based on key documents and communications.)
The fake electors scheme remained a central pillar of Trump’s effort to overturn his loss, and the committee released transcripts of several key allies who were involved in the plot.
- According to the former chair of the Wisconsin Republican Party, Sen. Ron Johnson called him in December 2020 advocating for the state’s Republican lawmakers to choose the state’s presidential electors, instead of voters.
- Texts from that same month show Sen. Mike Lee asked Trump campaign lawyer Cleta Mitchell if there were “any chance we will see competing slates of electors named” by state legislatures, but later expressed reservations about the fake electors plan for Jan. 6, calling it a “dangerous idea.”
- During her testimony, Mitchell expressed support for the radical independent state legislature theory, which says that state lawmakers have the final say on administering federal elections — and in Mitchell’s view, even choosing electors. Read about our investigation into support for that fringe legal theory here, and into Mitchell’s nomination to the federal Election Assistance Commission’s advisory board here.
On the Records
The Atlantic’s Family Separation Archive
The Atlantic published an archive of internal government documents — including records obtained by American Oversight — related to the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance initiative, the policy that formalized the separation of children from families.
- The collection provides examples of the government’s disorganized record-keeping and attempts to hide the policy’s impacts from the public, and includes documents we featured in our own extensive timeline of records related to family separation.
- We recently wrote about records from the Trump administration Department of Homeland Security that provide further evidence of problems with detention capacity and failures to properly track children separated from their families.
- We also obtained records last month that contain complaints and allegations of abuse filed against Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Border Patrol officers.
Florida’s Migrant Transportation Flights
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ public safety adviser, Larry Keefe, used a private email address to help his former legal client, Vertol Systems Company, obtain a contract to run the state’s Sept. 14 flights relocating migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard.
- American Oversight has previously obtained text messages between Keefe and the company’s CEO, James Montgomerie. A few days before the flights, Montgomerie texted Keefe about potential plans to send as many as 50 migrants to Delaware and expressed optimism about efforts to recruit more migrants to send on the trips, writing, “The network has grown exponentially!”
- We’ve obtained communications between other key figures behind the controversial migrant transportation efforts as well as contract documents and terms of agreement between the Florida Department of Transportation and Vertol Systems.
Other Stories We’re Following
Jan. 6 Investigations
- Biden to mark Jan. 6 anniversary by warning the Big Lie remains (Politico)
- Corporations gave $10M to election objectors after pledging to cut them off (Politico)
- Enablers, line-straddlers and quiet resisters: How GOP lawmakers contributed to Jan. 6 (Politico)
- Jan. 6 committee warns White House it can’t ensure identity of anonymous witnesses will remain protected (CNN)
- Ex-Capitol police chief faults intelligence officials and military in Jan. 6 attack (New York Times)
- Jan. 6 committee docs: Former Michigan GOP chair slams 2020 fake elector plan as ‘insane’ (Michigan Advance)
- Biden to honor 12 people with Presidential Citizens Medal on two-year anniversary of January 6 insurrection (CNN)
- Trump fixation on Wisconsin, Ginni Thomas text regrets and more from the Jan. 6 panel (Ohio Capital Journal)
Election Denial and Voting Rights
- Kari Lake trial witness Heather Honey has Pennsylvania election denial past (Philadelphia Inquirer)
- Republican drops out of key Senate race in effort to block election denier Brandtjen (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
- Conservative Supreme Court candidates push for more legislative investigations, election lawsuits (Wisconsin Examiner)
- Third case brought by DeSantis’ election police dismissed (Associated Press)
- New year expected to bring more changes to state voting laws (Associated Press)
- Assistant attorney general who launched dubious Arizona election probe ousted (Arizona Republic)
- New Covid strain is the most transmissible yet, WHO says (Politico)
- Local health departments working to restore trust as they fight vaccine misinformation (NBC News)
- How fraud increases Medicare spending on Covid-19 testing (ProPublica)
- Trump’s tax returns released, launching fresh scrutiny of his finances (Politico)
- Abortion pills can now be offered at retail pharmacies, FDA says (New York Times)
- Some major pharmacies are planning to dispense abortion pills, but not in every state (CNN)
- Justice Department clears Postal Service to carry abortion drugs into red states (Politico)
- McCarthy proposes gutting ethics watchdog in bid for speaker (Time)
- Strife in the schools: Education Dept. logs record number of discrimination complaints (New York Times)
- Biden administration defends student loan cancellation at Supreme Court (New York Times)
- Biden plans to visit U.S.-Mexico border (Wall Street Journal)
- U.S. to expand Title 42 border expulsions while opening legal path for some migrants (CBS News)
In the States
- Muzzled by DeSantis, critical race theory professors cancel courses or modify their teaching (ProPublica)
- Fla. surgeon general used ‘flawed’ vaccine science, faculty peers say (Washington Post)