Here’s what happened this week
Add Donald Trump Jr. to the list of Trump family members who have quietly cooperated with the January 6 committee. On Wednesday the Associated Press reported that the eldest son of the former president has met with the panel. He talked with the committee on Tuesday. It was not immediately clear what Trump Jr. told the committee, but he was backstage at the Stop the Steal rally that preceded the mob attack on the Capitol. Trump Jr.’s sister Ivanka recently spoke with the panel, going into detail about what was happening at the White House during the rally and the following mob attack.
“There were questions asked about what was she doing at the time that the insurrection was occurring at the Capitol, and she told us,” January 6 committee Chairman Bennie Thompson told CNN. Committee investigators “asked certain questions about her awareness of what her father was doing. She told us.”
If there’s a single new and interesting emerging pattern coming out of the committee lately, it’s that those close to Trump who one would think would fight the committee’s work to the bitter end just … aren’t. Here’s another example: Rudy Giuliani was expected to come before the committee sometime this month. As we’ve written before, it’s unclear what Giuliani will share or if anything he does divulge will be at all accurate. Giuliani, 77, isn’t known for his kinship with truth. (On Thursday night news broke that Giuliani had effectively backed out of talking to the committee over a demand that he be able to tape the questioning).
The fact that Trump’s inner circle has cooperated with the committee has created an ironic division between his closest associates and his most staunch supporters in Congress. While Trump’s family and personal attorney have cooperated with the committee, the most Trumpy lawmakers in the House of Representatives have refrained from acquiescing to the committee’s invitations. That hasn’t stopped the panel from sending out requests. This past week, Congressmen Andy Biggs, Mo Brooks, and Ronny Jackson were invited to speak with January 6 investigators. There’s no reason to think these three Congress members will do anything other than follow the examples of Congressmen Scott Perry and Jim Jordan, who have refused to cooperate with the panel. Jackson has already made clear that he thinks the entire committee’s work is “illegitimate.” It’s worth noting also that the committee hasn’t subpoenaed any of these members of Congress, even as it’s expanded the scope of lawmakers it is looking to talk with.
Again, that resistance from members of Congress will only do so much. Besides hearing from Trump’s family members, the committee seems poised to sift through fundraising and messaging information from the Republican National Committee. That data is of interest to the committee because it will answer whether the fundraising and messaging materials helped cause the riot. In a big win for the committee earlier this week, federal Judge Timothy Kelly, who happens to be a Trump appointee, rejected the RNC’s lawsuit to block the committee’s subpoena to hand over the information.
An ongoing thread of the January 6 investigation has been speculation over which Republican groups were involved in encouraging Stop the Steal protesters to storm the Capitol. Recall that the Republican Attorneys General Association was behind robocalls encouraging Trump supporters to march to the Capitol. The data from the RNC could yield similar findings.
Information like that which the RNC is trying not to share is ripe to be used when the committee begins holding its public hearings. Those hearings start on June 9. Committee members have stressed the importance of laying out their findings at the hearings, but as the first one approaches there has also been some growing skepticism about whether anything actually new will come out. After all, there has been a steady flow of leaks about the committee’s work and findings with no sign of abatement. Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson has expressed strong displeasure at the leaks, which is interesting in itself because the natural assumption might be that he was orchestrating them. But if he’s not, then who is leaking and why? After all, this is a week of particular obsession in Washington about leaks.
On the other hand, what’s clear is that despite some roadblocks by conservatives interested in always and only supporting Donald Trump, the January 6 committee is getting valuable information from key people close to the former president and major Republican entities. That’s partially through court rulings but partially thanks to GOP cooperation. Republicans aren’t quite as unified around protecting the former president as they once were or as one might think.
Whom to watch?
Georgia Congressman Jody Hice, the Republican primary challenger to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who said this week that there was “nothing wrong” with Donald Trump’s request for the secretary of state to find 11,000 more votes in Trump’s favor. Hice is waging a serious primary challenge to the incumbent secretary of state.
- In Georgia, a special grand jury was picked as part of the investigation into whether Trump and his allies tried to influence election officials to change the election results.
- Representative Adam Kinzinger, a member of the January 6 committee, said he would “love” for former Vice President Mike Pence to appear before the committee.
- J.R. Majewski, a Stop the Steal rally participant and QAnon conspiracy theorist, won a congressional primary Tuesday and will face Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur this fall in the race for Ohio’s 9th Congressional District.
Best quote of the week on January 6
“We’ve talked to a lot of Mr. Meadows’ associates and people who worked with him,” Douglas Letter, the House general counsel, said in a court filing Wednesday. He was referring to former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, on whom the committee has a “laser-like” focus, according to CNN.