“We want the public to understand just how close we came to a very different result and that democracy was in danger,” said Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.), one of the committee’s seven Democrats, in a phone interview.
The select panel started work shrouded in worry that Trump and his allies would succeed in stonewalling them. That’s drastically changed amid the firehose of evidence it’s collecting. In fact, House lawyers say they’re discussing deemphasizing some of their court battles against Trump allies because they’ve been obtaining the necessary information from other sources.
“We’re talking to so many people. So many witnesses are providing material and providing information,” House General Counsel Doug Letter said in federal court on Friday. “So many times we find, ‘Oh, we just got the information we needed from somebody else.’”
Instead, the biggest challenge for the Capitol riot committee has morphed into crafting a final product that will actually resonate with a polarized and occasionally desensitized electorate, considering the relentless campaign by Trump and his allies to diminish the significance of the insurrection.
”My personal hope is that this is something that the public can really, you know, wrap their arms around and understand,” Aguilar said, as opposed to “a 900-page report” fit for the bone-dry Congressional Research Service. “We want to be able to not only do the research, but also tell the story.”
Here’s a look at the inroads the panel is making lately and what they say about the broader state of the investigation:
The Supreme Court win and the draft executive order
Earlier this month, the Jan. 6 committee finally got its hands on 770 pages of Trump White House records that the former president had tried to keep hidden. The panel has been combing through the documents, which include call and visitor logs, speech and memo drafts and hundreds of pages of press secretary Kayleigh McEnany’s briefing notes. The newly obtained material has already become a prominent part of the committee’s investigation.
“It’s incredibly powerful to help connect the dots,” Aguilar said. “We’re already using some of these documents in witness interviews and depositions that we were having just in the last few days.”
Some of the records, he said, provided new revelations while others simply filled in the blanks on existing evidence. They offer a window, he added, into how the Trump White House became a haven for conspiracy theories in its final weeks, with documents detailing just how deeply the White House pursued them.
The testimony: Keith Kellogg, Ben Williamson and Alex Jones
In recent weeks, the panel has been able to secure interviews with key witnesses, even ones who had resisted speaking with the committee previously. And those witnesses have emerged, in some cases, surprised at how much evidence the committee had gathered.
“They have everything that’s already on my phones and things, because I saw my text messages to Caroline Wren and Cindy Chafian and some of the event organizers right there,” pro-Trump broadcaster and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones said last week on his Infowars show, hours after he testified remotely to the panel.
House General Counsel Letter emphasized in court Friday that the committee does not have the authority to subpoena phone companies for the content of text messages or emails — only to get time-stamped logs. That means those texts are a sign that witnesses have voluntarily turned over large caches of documents and text messages, including former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, who provided thousands of texts and emails before he reneged on a planned deposition.