“We’re not kidding,” Democratic committee member Adam Schiff of California told CNN’s Ryan Nobles on Tuesday, noting that the Justice Department would be able to make a critical choice on criminal referrals. against Trump associates because “unlike the last administration, no one is above the law. So we intend to act quickly.”
Another Democratic committee member, Rep. Elaine Luria of Virginia, said, “You will see the committee moving quickly” on CNN’s “Erin Burnett OutFront” on Tuesday.
And the Republican vice-chair of the committee, Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, told CNN that the panel “fully stands in solidarity” to move quickly to prosecute charges of criminal contempt for those who escape the subpoena.
“Everyone on the committee recognizes how important it is for us to make sure that we apply our subpoenas and do it quickly,” Cheney said.
The feeling that time is limited reflects the fact that the committee – the final manifestation of a formal accounting process pro-Trump Republicans have tried to strangle – is the last chance to provide an official historical record and uncover the truth on January 6. before Americans vote in a national election next year.
Leaders of the multi-Democratic panel previously pledged to complete the investigation early next spring, before the midterm campaign consumes Washington.
First, the committee faces several important deadlines this week, including for a list of Trump associates already subpoenaed, as it seeks to find out what the ex-president said and did on January 6 and in days before his attempt. to steal the election victory of President Joe Biden.
Former Trump political guru Steve Bannon is due to provide a deposition and documents by Thursday, but said he would not cooperate, arguing he was bound by “executive privileges belonging to President Trump.” The claim is potentially dubious since Bannon was not a White House official in January and does not appear to fall within traditional interpretations of executive privilege – a concept intended to ensure the confidentiality of official advice to a president.
Another Trump associate, Kash Patel, a former Pentagon official, has a deposition scheduled for Thursday. Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows is due to be deposed on Friday. Committee chairman Bennie Thompson, a Democrat from Mississippi, and Cheney said the two men were “engaging” with the committee.
Meadows, however, sought to further politicize the investigation on Monday, telling Laura Ingraham on Fox News that examining the worst attack on American democracy in generations was an effort by Democrats to “talk about something entirely different from ‘economy”.
A fourth Trump official, former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Dan Scavino, also has a Friday deadline for a deposition.
Biden’s Justice Department on site
On the one hand, House Democrats have spent years investigating Trump and his administration, indicting him twice. They are familiar with the distraction of his political attacks, his legal blocking tactics, and the smoke and mirror postures that come from his inner cycle.
They also now have a Justice Department that is no longer under the control of the 45th President.
It took two years and a prolonged legal battle, for example, to compel former White House attorney Don McGahn to testify before the House Judiciary Committee about the incidents recorded in former special advocate Robert’s report. Mueller on Russian electoral interference. His appearance in June belatedly confirmed that Trump had asked him to fire Mueller, but it happened long after the information lost its political relevance.
Now that Democrats are in control of the administration, the select committee has a reasonable expectation of action if it decides to detain witnesses who refuse subpoenas for criminal contempt of Congress and send them back to the Justice Department after a vote in plenary.
This would test the willingness of the department of Attorney General Merrick Garland – who has been criticized by some Democrats for not having sufficiently prosecuted Trump officials – to take coercive action.
“The former president… is still pushing the big lie. The same big lie that led people to attack this building and beat up police officers and put our lives in danger. So yes, we do feel a sense of it. ‘emergency.”
A comment that embodies the appeasement of the GOP against Trump
A criminal referral can focus the minds of witnesses. But that does not rule out possible attempts to challenge the matter in court.
Trump can also test arguments over executive privilege, which means that a familiar cycle of delays, judgments and appeals could still unfold and eat away at the committee’s precious time. Bannon and Trump could even welcome the spotlight of a legal battle to highlight their claims that the ex-president is once again unfairly pursued by an elite deep state, a message that resonates with his supporters.
It’s still unclear whether the committee will seek testimony from members of Congress allied with the former president, including even parliamentary minority leader Kevin McCarthy, a Republican from California who spoke to Trump by phone on Jan.6 when the insurrection was unfolding.
But the sense of the countdown is intensified by the expansion of the GOP’s efforts to bury outrage over the worst attack in 200 years on the seat of American democracy.
Last week, for example, Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa described Trump as the victim of a Democratic-led Senate committee that revealed new details about what can now be objectively described as an attempted coup. State by the former president. Then Grassley cheerfully accepted Trump’s re-election approval at a lie-filled rally in Hawkeye state on Saturday.
Grassley is far from the first Republican to seek to whitewash the Capitol insurgency. The House GOP, for example, is now largely an arm of Trump’s autocratic political aspirations.
But Grassley’s appearance at the rally, in which he said he wouldn’t be “too smart” if he turned down Trump’s backing, since the former president is backed by 91 percent of Republicans in the Iowa, was the most tangible example to date of how the GOP – even in the person of a long-respected senator on judicial matters – suppresses the truth about January 6 to maximize its chances of power in 2022. .
Grassley’s comment also embodied the whole attitude of the GOP, a party that once boasted of triumphing over Soviet totalitarianism, towards Trump. None of its abuses of power – not even in seeking to overthrow an American democracy that has reigned for nearly 250 years – is reason enough to stray from its reflected political glory.
As Cheney, one of the two Republican members of the House select committee, put it in a tweet berating Scalise, “Continuing the big lie is an attack on the heart of our constitutional republic.”
There is little hope that even an expansive report on the insurgency will change the minds of millions of Republicans who believe the latest election was stolen from Trump and conservative media propaganda networks.
But at least there will be a precise, institutionalized version of the truth, which provides voters confronted with GOP laundering tactics in the run-up to the next election a chance to find out what really happened.
CNN’s Annie Grayer contributed to this report.