Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

Trump lies, a fake elector architect and 200 acts of pressure: Key findings from Jan 6 committee’s report

The 845-page report was released on Thursday night, bringing to an end the 17-month-long investigation into the events surrounding the Capitol riot. Here are some of the highlights from the report:

Rachel Sharp,Andrew Feinberg
Friday 23 December 2022 17:27 GMT
Comments
Jan 6 committee votes to recommend criminal charges against Donald Trump

The House select committee investigating the January 6 Capitol riot has finally released its report, laying out what it describes as a “multi-part conspiracy” by Donald Trump and his inner circle to overthrow the results of the 2020 presidential election.

The damning 845-page report is the result of a 17-month-long investigation by the House panel into the events surrounding 6 January 2021, when a mob of Mr Trump’s supporters stormed the US Capitol to try to stop the certification of the electoral college votes in President Joe Biden’s favour.

In it, the panel places the blame for the riot — the worst attack on America’s seat of government since British troops set it ablaze in 1814 — squarely on the shoulders of “one man”: Mr Trump.

At its final public hearing earlier this week, the committee voted to refer Mr Trump to the Department of Justice for prosecution on four criminal charges: obstruction of an official proceeding of the United States government, conspiracy to defraud the US, conspiracy to make a false statement, and inciting, assisting, or aiding and comforting an insurrection.

The panel also recommended charges against some key figures in Mr Trump’s inner circle.

It is now up to the Justice Department to decide whether or not to bring any charges.

Here’s some of the key findings of the report:

White House staff knew Trump was enjoying watching the violence

As a riotous mob of his supporters began assaulting police officers and breaching security barriers to storm the US Capitol, one of Mr Trump’s senior speechwriters — a White House staffer whose job required him to understand the president’s feelings and thoughts to put them into words for the American people — sent a text message.

The speechwriter, a man called Robert Gabriel, wrote to the recipient: “POTUS [the President of the United States], I’m sure, is loving this”.

There’s proof that Trump always planned to have his supporters march to the Capitol

As plans formed for the “Save America” rally at which Mr Trump exhorted his followers to march from the White House to the Capitol, the panel found there had been “a series of calls among the senior White House staff, likely underscoring the seriousness of the White House’s interest in the event”.

The committee found the Trump White House started to have “a more direct role” in rally planning, with both outside organisers and executive branch staffers laying groundwork for a march to the Capitol following Mr Trump’s remarks.

Event producer Justin Caporale wrote in a 29 December text to rally organiser Caroline Wren that following the speech, there would perhaps be “a call to action” for Mr Trump’s followers to “march to the Capitol and make noise”.

The panel added that the text message was “the earliest indication uncovered by the select committee that the president planned to call on his supporters to march” from the White House to the Capitol.

Four days later, there was another text message, from organiser Katrina Pierson to Ms Wren, which noted that then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows had said Mr Trump planned to “call on everyone to march to the Capitol”.

The Republication National Committee knew Trump was using lies about the election to raise money

After the November 2020 presidential election, Mr Trump and his failed presidential campaign raised a quarter of a million dollars with a barrage of emails and text messages urging donors to chip in to keep Democrats from succeeding in their attempt to “steal” the election that had been won by Mr Biden.

According to the report, RNC members knew what Mr Trump was claiming had no basis unreality but instead of stopping him, “they walked as close to the line as they dared” by altering his messages to ensure they weren’t blatantly false. For example, RNC lawyers inserted the words “try to” before “steal the election” and used other rhetorical devices to insinuate without alleging outright.

“RNC leadership knew that President Trump was lying to the American people. Yet, they did nothing to publicly distance themselves from his efforts to overturn the election,” the committee wrote. “The RNC’s response was merely to tinker around the edges of the fundraising copy.”

Trump and inner circle engaged in 200 acts to try to overturn election

The report found that, in the two months between election day and January 6, Mr Trump and his allies undertook at least 200 separate acts to push lawmakers or election officials to reverse his election loss.

“The Select Committee estimates that in the two months between the November election and the January 6th insurrection, President Trump or his inner circle engaged in at least 200 apparent acts of public or private outreach, pressure, or condemnation, targeting either State legislators or State or local election administrators, to overturn State election results,” the report says.

This included 68 meetings, attempted or connected phone calls or text messages and 125 social media posts by the then-president or his senior aides.

One of the most high-profile examples was Mr Trump’s attempt to “badger” Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger – who the then-president pressed in a now-infamous phone call to “find” 11,000 votes to flip the state in his favour.

By 2 January 2021 – the day of that phone call – Mr Trump had already tried to speak by phone with Mr Raffensperger at least 18 times, the report states.

Kenneth Chesebro is named as architect of fake elector plot

The report also revealed the identity of the Mr Trump ally who is accused of being the architect of the fake elector plot: Kenneth Chesebro.

Mr Chesebro, a little known attorney, allegedly led the plot – not Mr Trump’s attorney John Eastman who infamously created a step-by-step guide for how he claimed then-vice president Mike Pence could overturn the election.

“The fake elector plan emerged from a series of legal memoranda written by an outside legal advisor to the Trump Campaign: Kenneth Chesebro,” the report says.

“Although John Eastman would have a more prominent role in advising President Trump in the days immediately before January 6th, Chesebro—an attorney based in Boston and New York recruited to assist the Trump Campaign as a volunteer legal advisor—was central to the creation of the plan.”

The report states that Mr Trump “oversaw” the attempts to put forward fake electors to certify the results in his favour in seven states that Mr Biden won.

The panel describes how Mr Trump “spearheaded outreach aimed at numerous officials in States he lost but that had GOP-led legislatures, including in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Arizona”.

Trump should be barred from entering office again

As a result of the former president’s actions, the panel recommends that Mr Trump – who just last month announced his 2024 White House run – is barred from being able to enter office ever again.

The report points to part of the US Constitution which states that an individual who has taken an oath to support the Constitution but has “engaged in an insurrection” or given “aid or comfort to the enemies of the Constitution” can be disqualified from taking office.

The panel issued a grave warning about America’s future if Mr Trump and his inner circle are not held to account for their role in the insurrection.

“In the Committee’s judgment, based on all the evidence developed, President Trump believed then, and continues to believe now, that he is above the law, not bound by our Constitution and its explicit checks on Presidential authority. This recent Trump statement only heightens our concern about accountability,” the report states.

“If President Trump and the associates who assisted him in an effort to overturn the lawful outcome of the 2020 election are not ultimately held accountable under the law, their behavior may become a precedent and invitation to danger for future elections.

“A failure to hold them accountable now may ultimately lead to future unlawful efforts to overturn our elections, thereby threatening the security and viability of our Republic.”

DC National Guard commander considered sending troops to Capitol as Trump stayed silent

As well as the actions of Mr Trump and his inner circle in the lead-up to January 6, the report also provides new details about the day itself – and the former president’s refusal to try to stop the insurrection.

When his supporters broke into the Capitol, Mr Trump watched it on TV and “did not contact a single top national security official during the day”.

“Not at the Pentagon, nor at the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, the F.B.I., the Capitol Police Department, or the D.C. Mayor’s office,” the report states, adding that he didn’t even try to contact Mr Pence to see if he was safe.

With no action coming from the head of state, the report revealed that the commander of the DC National Guard “strongly” considered going ahead and sending troops to the US Capitol without waiting for approval.

Major General William Walker was aware that doing so would mean he may have to resign from his role but, after waiting for hours with no order from officials, he considered doing it anyway, the report finds.

“Major General Walker himself understood he had to wait for approval from Secretary (Ryan) McCarthy to deploy his forces. But as he waited on that video call for hours, he did strongly consider sending them anyway,” the report states.

“He turned to his lawyer and said, ‘Hey, you know what? You know, we’re going to go, and I’m just going to shoulder the responsibility.’”

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in