Here’s What Happened
The biggest news of the week about the House Select Committee on the January 6th Attack on the Capitol came not from the committee but from the Supreme Court. In an 8–1 ruling, the court rejected Donald Trump’s bid to block the National Archives from releasing a set of documents the committee wants as part of its investigation. This is important for a few reasons. The sole dissenting opinion was from Justice Clarence Thomas. Every other member of the court—even the ones Trump appointed, whom he thinks of as “his” justices—ruled in the committee’s favor.
The documents at issue are actually not that numerous. They are just four pages of records from the Office of Records Management, according to CBS News. It’s not clear what about those pages Trump does not want the committee or public at large to see.
The pages are part of hundreds of pages of records Trump has been fighting to keep the National Archives from releasing to the committee and now will be handed over to the panel. Those documents include “presidential diaries, visitor logs, speech drafts, and handwritten notes dealing with Jan. 6 from the files of former chief of staff Mark Meadows,” according to The Washington Post.
More important developments came Thursday when the committee publicized a minutely detailed 11-page letter requesting that Ivanka Trump work with it to answer some outstanding questions. The committee wants to know what Ivanka Trump could have done to persuade her father to try and stop the mob attack from continuing.
“We are particularly interested in discussions inside the White House and with the President before and after his 2:24 p.m. tweet,” the letter from the committee read. “Testimony obtained by the Select Committee indicates that members of the White House staff requested your assistance on multiple occasions to intervene in an attempt to persuade President Trump to address the ongoing lawlessness and violence on Capitol Hill.”
The committee also wants to know, “Why didn’t White House staff simply ask the President to walk to the briefing room and appear on live television—to ask the crowd to leave the Capitol?”
Keep in mind that this is not a subpoena—it’s an invitation for Ivanka Trump to answer questions. She almost certainly will follow other Trump allies and decline the invitation, which in turn will further lead the committee toward subpoenaing high-profile figures and members of Congress. A spokesperson for Ivanka Trump responded that she had just learned of the request. The statement did not say whether Trump’s daughter would cooperate.
This wasn’t Ivanka’s only brush with authority this week. A day earlier, New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a motion to compel Donald Trump, Donald Trump Jr., and Ivanka to appear “for sworn testimony” as part of an investigation into the Trump Organization. James has accused Trump of inflating the value of the family business and misleading tax officials.
But back to the committee. It subpoenaed a set of white nationalists in connection to the mob attack. It also subpoenaed a handful of the most eccentric Trump allies connected to the former president’s moves to try and stall certification of the 2020 election: Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, Trump lawyer Jenna Ellis, conspiracy theorist and former prosecutor Sydney Powell, and former Trump campaign adviser Boris Epshteyn.
Trump also was irked by news on Thursday that Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis wants a special grand jury to help investigate whether Trump broke the law by trying to pressure Georgia election officials to change the state’s election results. The former president released a rambling statement Thursday afternoon denying any wrongdoing during his call with Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.
“My phone call to the Secretary of State of Georgia was perfect, perhaps even more so than my call with the Ukrainian President, if that’s possible,” Trump said in the statement. Seriously. That’s what he said.
Here’s What May Come Next
Ivanka Trump may decline to appear for an interview, leaving the committee with the decision about whether to follow up with a subpoena. The committee may also seek to interview other members of the Trump family and is expected eventually to reach out to former Vice President Mike Pence, as well. Some Republican lawmakers in the House have been asked to appear for voluntary interviews, and the committee may request interviews from some key GOP senators too, such as Senators Tommy Tuberville and Mike Lee.
That’s the short term. In the long term, we can expect the committee to release two reports: an interim report in the summer and a final report in the fall. As Chairman Bennie Thompson told The New Republic earlier in January, these reports will also include recommendations for Congress to adopt. Representative Liz Cheney told The New York Times in December that one of those recommendations may be reforming the Electoral Count Act, which dictates the procedure for counting Electoral College votes. The committee also likely will hold more public hearings, like the blockbuster hearing with several police officers last summer.
Thompson told the Associated Press earlier in January that the committee wants to “bring the people who conducted the elections to Washington and tell their story.” The committee has already interviewed several election officials from battleground states to discuss Trump’s effort to subvert the election. Just as the hearing with police officers refuted the claims from Trump and his supporters that the January 6 insurrection was not a violent riot, a hearing with election officials would counter the narrative that the election was stolen.
Here’s Who Still Hasn’t Been Subpoenaed
First of all, Ivanka. Second, other members of the Trump family, including Donald Trump’s children and the former president himself. CNN reported this week that the committee has already subpoenaed and obtained the phone records of Eric Trump and Kimberly Guilfoyle, the girlfriend of Donald Trump Jr.
The committee has requested interviews with several Republican members of Congress, including Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. It’s unclear whether the committee will issue subpoenas to these members, and attempting to compel sitting lawmakers to appear is uncharted territory. Moreover, even if the committee did subpoena McCarthy, Jim Jordan, and Scott Perry, it’s unclear whether it would be able to compel them to speak.
Here’s the Best Quote of the Week on January 6
“He can’t mention the election again. Ever. I did not have a good call with him today. And worse, I’m not sure what is left to do or say, and I don’t like not knowing if it’s truly understood. Ideas?”—Sean Hannity to then–White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and Congressman Jim Jordan in a text message.