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Jan. 6 panel to offer closing arguments in today’s hearing
The House January 6th committee will hold its tenth — and possibly final — public hearing today, as the panel begins to wind down its 15-month-long investigation of the Capitol riot.
Unlike its previous hearings, the committee will not have any live witnesses for today’s session. However, as it has done in the past, the panel is expected to play video clips from witness interviews it has already conducted.
The panel will have plenty of new interviews to draw from: since its last hearing in July, the committee has spoken to several Trump Cabinet alumni — including former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, and former Commerce Secretary Elaine Chao — as well as conservative activist Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas.
Here are the topics expected to be examined in today’s hearing:
The Secret Service. Although the Secret Service has been unable to provide its texts from January 6th — which were apparently deleted by accident — the agency recently handed over more than 1 million emails and other electronic messages to the committee, per NBC News.
Expect to see excerpts from this new tranche of evidence at today’s hearing, as the committee tries to nail down details about Trump’s activities during the riot and possibly corroborate former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony about Trump lunging at the Secret Service agent driving his motorcade that day.
Roger Stone. In the 1980s and 90s, before Donald Trump was surrounded by a coterie of aides, he had just one political adviser: Roger Stone. A self-proclaimed “dirty trickster” who has flitted in and out of Republican politics since the Nixon era, Stone has been a constant in Trump’s political career, up through his post-election pardon for obstructing the Mueller investigation.
As Politico notes, Stone also pops up throughout the January 6th narrative, tied to many of “the most significant players in the events of Jan. 6: Ali Alexander, founder of the post-election ‘Stop the Steal’ activism; pro-Trump InfoWars broadcaster Alex Jones; Proud Boys national chairman Enrique Tarrio; and Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes.
The committee is expected to zero in on Stone’s role in the riot today, assisted by hours of documentary footage recorded by a Danish film crew. “F—k the voting, let’s get right to the violence,” Stone can reportedly be heard saying in one of the documentary clips, recorded a day before the 2020 election.
Trump’s “state of mind.” As with every hearing thus far, the committee will focus heavily on the role played by former President Trump — specifically trying to probe his “state of mind” during the Capitol attack. “He has used this big lie to destabilize our democracy,” Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), a committee member, told CNN. “When did that idea occur to him and what did he know while he was doing that?”
Per the Washington Post, the panel will use the Secret Service records to show that Trump was “repeatedly alerted to brewing violence that day, and he still sought to stoke the conflict.”
The “clear and present” danger. Finally, the committee will zoom ahead of January 6th and discuss the “ongoing threats to democracy that persist to this day,” according to an aide.
That will include examination of Trump’s activities since leaving office, including his phone call this July urging a top Wisconsin lawmaker to decertify the state’s 2020 presidential results.
As the January 6th committee prepares to wrap up, an accounting of its wins and losses can begin to be formed.
It can genuinely be said that the panel has likely changed the face of congressional investigations, with its highly orchestrated hearings, video depositions, and willingness to subpoena sitting members of Congress.
What’s less clear, however, is how much of a dent the committee has made in the public imagination. Although the panel seemed to be deflating Trump’s support in the GOP early on, he remains the party’s most powerful figure and presumptive presidential frontrunner. The FBI’s Mar-a-Lago raid in August seemed only to bolster Trump’s standing in the party.
The committee has kept January 6th in the news throughout the year, but it can hardly be said that the panel has made it a leading issue in the midterm elections, with polls consistently showing inflation and abortion higher on voters’ minds.
In recent months, the Justice Department has ratcheted up its own investigation of January 6th — often following the committee’s lead — but there have been no public signs of a forthcoming Trump indictment, despite a recent piece predicting one in The Atlantic.
The panel is expected to release a final report after the midterm elections, summing up its findings and offering legislative recommendations.
Watch today’s hearing here at 1 pm Eastern Time:
What else you should know
Breaking news: Inflation continued to surge in September, per a Labor Department report released this morning. Prices were up 8.2% compared to the year before, while core inflation — which excludes volatile food and energy prices — was up 6.2%, a 40-year record.
Speaking of Trump probes: The Justice Department’s investigation of Trump’s handling of government documents has a star witness. Per the Washington Post, a Trump employee has testified that the ex-president directed him to move boxes of documents to his residence at Mar-a-Lago after the Justice Department issued a subpoena for them.
The New York Times is also reporting on a long-serving Trump aide who was captured on security camera footage moving boxes, although it is unclear if it is the same employee.
Midterm roundup: A stroke suffered in May by John Fetterman, the Democratic Senate nominee in Pennsylvania, continues to play a major role in the campaign. A recent NBC News interviewer said Fetterman struggled to follow their conversation without closed captioning — sparking fresh questions about the candidate’s health and backlash to the reporter online.
- Venture capitalist Peter Thiel has agreed to plow millions of dollars into the Arizona Senate race, backing his protégé Blake Masters, the Republican nominee, per Axios. Thiel and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) had been engaged in a battle of wills over who would bankroll the contest.
- Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), the first Latina senator, is struggling among Latino voters, Newsweek notes.
On the ground: White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan spoke at Georgetown University on Wednesday, unveiling the Biden administration’s first National Security Strategy. Sullivan said that the U.S. stands at an “inflection point,” identifying competition with China and climate change as the nation’s two most pressing challenges.
He also pledged that the U.S. would back Ukraine for as long as the war lasts. “We will not be intimated, we will not be knocked off course,” he declared. “We will continue to support Ukraine for as long as the war takes.”
More news to know:
➞ AP: “Alex Jones ordered to pay $965 million for Sandy Hook lies”
➞ The Hill: “These four countries sided with Russia in UN vote on Ukraine annexations”
➞ NBC: “Omicron booster shots cleared for children as young as 5, CDC says”
Plus, a number to note:
Today at a glance
All times Eastern. Click on an event’s time to watch or listen to it.
AT THE WHITE HOUSE: President Biden is in Los Angeles, California. He’ll deliver remarks on the bipartisan infrastructure package (11:15 am) and participate in a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee fundraiser (7:45 pm).
- 🚊 More details: Biden’s infrastructure speech, which he’ll deliver at an LA Metro station, will discuss how the 2021 law is “helping to improve public transit, create jobs and opportunity, and reduce pollution and traffic in Los Angeles and across the country,” per the WH.
Vice President Kamala Harris will deliver remarks at the White House Accelerating Infrastructure Summit (11:20 am).
First Lady Jill Biden will travel to U.S. Army Fort Benning in Georgia, where she will join military families for dinner and deliver remarks (6 pm).
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre will not hold a press briefing.
ON THE HILL: The House and Senate are on recess. The House January 6th committee will hold a public hearing (1 pm).
IN THE COURTS: The Supreme Court will not meet today.
ON THE TRAIL: Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) and his Democratic challenger Mandela Barnes will meet for a debate tonight (7 pm). So will Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D-MI) and her Republican challenger Tudor Dixon (7 pm).
Before I go...
Here’s something cool to peruse: The list of the MacArthur Foundation’s 25 new “genius grant” winners, which was released yesterday.
Per the New York Times, the list includes:
- “A sociologist working to understand what drives people to own guns”
- “An astrodynamicist trying to manage ‘space traffic’ and ensure that satellites don’t crash into each other in Earth’s orbit”
- A computer scientist “using computational linguistics to help detect everything from fake consumer reviews to fake news”
As the Times put it, “few honors carry the prestige — and mystique” of the “genius grants,” which offer $800,000 over five years, with no strings attached.
The list always provides an interesting glance at what some of the world’s smartest people are working on.
If you have any questions or feedback, feel free to email me: my inbox is always open.
Thanks for waking up to politics! Have a great day.