The US House committee investigating the assault on the Capitol on January 6, 2021 released its final report on Thursday on the “unimaginable” mob assault by supporters of the defeated president, Donald Trump, that shook the nation and exposed the fragility of American democracy.
The committee said that the former president carried out what it called “a multipart plan to overturn the 2020 presidential election.” The report describes how Trump and his allies engaged in a scheme to overturn Joe Biden’s presidential election victory, first through court challenges, then, when those failed, by compiling slates of electors to challenge Biden’s win.
The 814-page account provides a narrative of Trump’s months-long effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election, and spells out 11 recommendations for Congress and others to consider to bolster the nation’s institutions against any future attempts to incite insurrection.
The panel set out to compile a record for history. Along with the report, it is releasing dozens of witness transcripts from its more than 1,000 interviews with startling new details. This week, it made an unprecedented criminal referral of a former US president for prosecution.
Chairman Bennie Thompson, in the foreword, said “what if” questions remain.
The witnesses, ranging from many of Trump’s closest aides to law enforcement and some of the insurgents, detailed the former president’s actions in the weeks leading up to the insurrection and how his extensive lobbying campaign played a role in the events of January 6, as supporters forced their way into the Capitol after breaking through the police barrier.
“The central cause of January 6 was one man, former President Donald Trump, who was followed by many others,” the report reads. “None of the events of January 6 would have happened without him.” The insurrection seriously threatened democracy and “put US lawmakers’ lives at risk,” the nine-member panel concluded.
“When Donald Trump pointed them toward the Capitol and told them to ‘fight like hell,’ that’s exactly what they did,” Thompson wrote. “Donald Trump lit that fire. But in the weeks beforehand, the kindling he ultimately ignited was amassed in plain sight.”
The document is based on 1,200 interviews carried out over 18 months, 10 public hearings and hundreds of thousands of documents, including emails that reveal security flaws, according to an investigation by NBC.
Among dozens of new witness transcripts was Thursday’s release of a previously unseen account from former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson, detailing a campaign by Trump’s allies encouraging her to stay “loyal” as she testified before the panel.
The report said the committee estimates that in the two months between the November 2020 election and the January 6 attack, “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 also details Trump’s inaction as his loyalists were violently storming the building.
One Secret Service employee testified to the committee that Trump’s determination to go to the Capitol put agents on high alert.
“[We] all knew ... that this was going to move to something else if he physically walked to the Capitol,” an unidentified employee said. “I don’t know if you want to use the word ‘insurrection,’ ‘coup,’ whatever. We all knew that this would move from a normal democratic ... public event into something else.”
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