Politico

Jan. 6 panel unlikely to call Trump to testify, chair says


The Jan. 6 select committee is unlikely to call former President Donald Trump as a witness, its chair Rep. Bennie Thompson said Tuesday.

It is “not our expectations to do that,” the Mississippi Democrat said, contending that Trump’s testimony was not necessary to advance the committee’s mounting evidence of the former president’s efforts to subvert the 2020 election.

“We’re not sure that the evidence that we receive can be any more validated with his presence,” Thompson told reporters Tuesday, adding, “I think the concern is whether or not he would add any more value with his testimony.”

Thompson said discussions with former Vice President Mike Pence were ongoing, though he has previously suggested Pence’s testimony may not be necessary in light of high-level cooperation from his top advisers. Pence could serve a unique role to the panel, as he could function as both a witness to attempts to overturn the election as well as a victim, since he was targeted by Trump supporters who attacked the Capitol to prevent Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s election.

The committee’s 10-month investigation has produced reams of evidence describing a complex and multifaceted plan by Trump to prevent the transfer of power to Biden — from seeking to unravel his defeat in court to increasingly desperate maneuvers to get state legislatures to overturn the result after his legal challenges failed. Eventually, the former president homed in on the Jan. 6, 2021 session of Congress, when lawmakers were required by the Constitution to count electoral votes and finalize the 2020 presidential election.

Whether the committee would seek Trump’s testimony is one of the panel’s final high-level questions. Thompson emphasized no decision had been made, but that its “not in the day to day wheelhouse of our discussions.” Committee members have expressed increasing skepticism about the value of testimony from Trump, who has continued to falsely claim the election was stolen and downplay the violent attack on Congress by thousands of his supporters.

Panel members Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.) both declined to elaborate on the committee’s approach to Trump or any decision about whether or not to call him..

“It’s still being considered,” Lofgren said.

Although the committee is gearing up for a series of public hearings in June to unload its findings, Thompson emphasized that the panel was still actively gathering evidence, talking to witnesses and pursuing more information through legal battles and requests to the National Archives, which houses all official records from the Trump White House.

In fact, Thompson indicated he had sent another letter to the Archives from the floor of the House just minutes before speaking with reporters. He added that his requests to the Archives have gotten more detailed and specific as the committee has gathered more evidence from high-level witnesses.

“We’re still in the middle of an aggressive investigation as we prepare for our hearings,” Thompson said. “Things come up, we address them as they come up. There’s no cutoff for issuing subpoenas. There’s no cutoff for talking to witnesses. There’s no cutoff for getting additional information.”

Nicholas Wu contributed to this report.

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