Jan. 6 committee releases witness transcripts, set to release final report Thursday

Washington — The House select committee probing the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol is set to release its long-anticipated final report on Thursday, capping a nearly 18-month investigation that resulted in the historic recommendation that former President Donald Trump be criminally prosecuted for his conduct surrounding the insurrection.

The committee on Wednesday did release transcripts from 34 witnesses’ testimonies. Those witnesses included Jeffrey Clark, John Eastman, Michael Flynn, Roger Stone, Nick Fuentes, Alex Jones, Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes, Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio and Arizona Republican Party chairwoman Kelli Ward. Along with recommending charges against Trump, the committee on Monday also recommended charges against Eastman. 

The transcripts confirmed many of the witnesses invoked their Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination, including to questions about biographical details. Stone, for example, asserted his Fifth Amendment rights when asked where he resides and his age,

On Thursday, the panel made public two transcripts from September interviews with Cassidy Hutchinson, a former top aide to White House chief of staff Mark Meadows. Hutchison testified before the committee in an explosive public hearing in late June, during which she discussed Trump’s repeated demands to go to the Capitol on Jan. 6 and an interaction she learned of between the former president and the head of his security detail in a presidential vehicle after his speech on the Ellipse, which involved Trump allegedly lunging toward him when he was told he could not go to the Capitol.

Later Thursday, the committee release the transcripts of interviews with former Cybersecurity Infrastructure Security Agency Director Chris Krebs; Capitol rioter Stephen Ayres (Part 1Part 2); former Defense Secretary Mark Esper, former Justice Department official Ken Klukowski (June 10, 2022), who was an aide to another Justice Department official, Jeffrey Clark; and former special assistant to the president Sarah Matthew.

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The release of the report, which the panel unanimously voted to adopt during a meeting Monday, was originally expected on Wednesday, but the committee said it would slide to Thursday, while additional records might be released before the final report. The committee published introductory materials to the report earlier this week, which included the committee’s criminal referrals to the Justice Department for possible prosecution and 17 key findings from its investigation.

The panel recommended the Justice Department pursue at least four criminal charges against former President Donald Trump related to his alleged efforts to thwart the transfer of presidential power: obstruction of an official proceeding, conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to make a false statement and incitement, rebellion or insurrection.

During the course of its probe, the select committee held 10 public hearings, conducted interviews with more than 1,000 witnesses and collected more than 1 million pages of material. It issued subpoenas to Trump and some of his closest allies, though ultimately did not speak with the former president or former Vice President Mike Pence.

Transcripts of the interviews conducted by committee investigators are also expected to be made public in the coming days.

The committee’s hearings, the bulk of which were held over the summer, focused on what investigators said was a multi-part plan by Trump and his allies to reverse the results of the 2020 presidential election and keep the former president in office. The pressure campaign involved Pence, state lawmakers, election officials and the Justice Department, and culminated in the Jan. 6 attack, during which a mob of Trump’s supporters breached the Capitol in an attempt to stop Congress from re-affirming President Biden’s electoral win, the panel alleged.

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Rep. Adam Schiff, a Democrat from California and a member of the committee, told “CBS Mornings” on Wednesday that the decision to refer Trump for possible criminal charges was a “somber decision to make, and not one we made lightly.”

“We believe that with respect to inciting an insurrection and conspiracy to defraud and obstruction of an official proceeding, conspiracy to lie … that Donald Trump committed all of these offenses,” Schiff said. “And as the Congress itself was the victim of some of them, our democracy, all of them, that we had an obligation to report what we knew to the Justice Department.”

Trump, who has launched a 2024 presidential bid, has maintained he did nothing wrong on Jan. 6, and has repeatedly called the committee’s investigation a “witch hunt.” He called the criminal referrals “Fake charges made by the highly partisan Unselect Committee of January 6th” in response to the release of the introductory materials earlier this week.

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