The U.S. House Select Committee Investigation of the January 6 Attack on the Capitol: Part 5

Elections and Politics Policy Brief #31 | By: Erika Shannon | December 3, 2021

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Policy Summary

There have been many changes on our nation’s home front since the January 6th insurrection in the U.S. Capitol; and some of these changes are being made to ensure that events like that will never occur again, on either side. Chairperson Bennie Thompson and his US House Select Committee panel have been investigating the events that transpired on January 6th with one mission in mind: preserve the democratic process. There have been endless subpoenas, documents submitted, and interviews, so what is still to come in this lengthy process?

Of course, there are the matters of getting people to cooperate who have been unwilling to do so. This includes people like former president Donald Trump and his closest cohorts, such as Steve Bannon and Mark Meadows. Earlier this month, Bannon was hit with a federal indictment and charged with two counts of contempt of Congress. This came after he refused to provide testimony or documents to the January 6th  Select Committee. His defiance is seen as extreme due to the fact that he was not willing to even appear before investigators under subpoena, even if to assert other alleged privileges. It is seen as a move that may prompt others to follow suit and do their best to derail the investigation. 

Policy Analysis

While Bannon’s contempt is seen as a problematic example of non-compliance, other allies of Trump have decided to come forward to seemingly avoid the problems that Bannon is now facing. Mark Meadows, Trump’s chief of staff at the time of the January 6th insurrection, is now cooperating with the House Select Committee. For now, communications have been through his attorney but he will soon appear for an initial deposition in front of them. Meadows is currently the highest profile member of the former President’s inner circle who is known to be actually cooperating with the investigation. Though he still may attempt to withhold certain information, his cooperation is a good sign for the committee’s efforts.

 Meadows may not be following in Steve Bannon’s contemptuous footsteps, but other Trump allies may do so. Jeffrey Clark, head of the Environment and Natural Resources division of the Justice Department under Trump, allegedly attempted to use federal resources to delay the certification of the 2020 election results. He has attempted to claim that the information being sought by the Committee is protected by executive privilege, much like the former president believes himself. Recently he has agreed to testify but threatens to invoke the 5th amendment on questions that might incriminate him. Still, even if Clark invokes the 5th, Committee members will be able to gain insights into areas of possible criminality from the questions which Clark refuses to answer.

While progress is being made, the Committee is still issuing subpoenas to try and get as much information as possible. In late November, the panel sent out another five subpoenas. Groups subpoenaed include Proud Boys International, L.L.C. and the Oath Keepers. Henry “Enrique Tarrio, former chairman of the Proud Boys, was also subpoenaed by the Committee. Elmer Stuart Rhodes, a member of Oath Keepers, was subpoenaed due to his alleged suggestions that the Oath Keepers should engage in violence to secure their preferred election outcome.

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The group 1st Amendment Praetorian and its chairman, Robert Patrick Lewis, were also subpoenaed, as Lewis was listed as a speaker on the permit for the January 5th rally on Freedom Plaza. Lewis suggested violence was imminent and the Committee would like to know how far his involvement goes.

While the Committee is trying to figure out how to get certain parties to comply with their investigation, they are receiving a good amount of information from former president Trump’s allies. Some of this information  has the potential to get Trump in trouble; this is likely why the former president refuses to cooperate with the House Select Committee to this day.. Trump finds the panel’s work to be a joke, not realizing the severity of the investigation, and will eventually have to face them or possibly be indicted. 

This brief is part of an ongoing series in the Select Committee’s investigation; further updates will be provided as the investigation continues.

Engagement Resources​

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  • To read the committee’s latest subpoenas or press releases, visit the January 6th Committee webpage.
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