WASHINGTON — The House Jan. 6 committee on Thursday unveiled its formal report, the final product of its historic 18-month investigation into the deadly attack on the Capitol and former President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
“This report will provide greater detail about the multistep effort devised and driven by Donald Trump to overturn the 2020 election and block the transfer of power,” Jan. 6 Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., wrote in the forward of the report.
“Building on the information presented in our hearings earlier this year, we will present new findings about Trump’s pressure campaign on officials from the local level all the way up to his Vice President, orchestrated and designed solely to throw out the will of the voters and keep him in office past the end of his elected term,” he wrote.
The committee released the more-than-800-page report days after a final committee meeting at which its nine members — seven Democrats and two Republicans — voted to recommend that the Justice Department pursue criminal charges against Trump as he makes another bid for the White House in 2024.
It was the first time in history that a congressional committee had made criminal referrals for a U.S. president. The Jan. 6 panel, led by Thompson and Vice Chair Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., believes there is enough evidence for the Justice Department to prosecute Trump on four specific charges, including obstruction of an official proceeding — Congress’ certification of electoral votes — and inciting or assisting others in an insurrection.
Consistent with the committee’s series of summer hearings and its executive summary, the full report — divided into eight chapters — largely lays blame for the Jan. 6 attack at the feet of the 45th president.
Chapter 1 is titled, “THE BIG LIE,” a nod to Trump’s widespread effort to delegitimize the 2020 election and falsely claim it was stolen, while Chapter 2, titled “I JUST WANT TO FIND 11,780 VOTES,” focuses on Trump’s attempt to pressure state and election officials in Georgia and other places to overturn the election results.
Witnesses, nearly all of them Republicans, testified that Trump and his inner circle had furiously worked to sow doubt about Joe Biden’s legitimate election victory; launched a multi-pronged campaign to pressure state officials, senior members of the Justice Department and then-Vice President Mike Pence to help overturn the election; directed a mob of thousands of his supporters to march on the Capitol to disrupt lawmakers’ counting of the electoral votes that would certify the results of the election; and refused to call off his supporters as they brutally assaulted police officers and stormed the Capitol.
“Among the most shameful of this committee’s findings was that President Trump sat in the dining room off the Oval Office watching the violent riot at the Capitol on television. No man who would behave that way at that moment in time can ever serve in any position of authority in our nation again,” Cheney said at Monday’s meeting. “He is unfit for any office.”
The committee’s report alleges that Trump and his inner circle conducted at least 200 public or private acts of “outreach, pressure, or condemnation” targeting state and local election officials, as well as state legislators, to overturn the results between Trump’s loss in November and Jan. 6.
There were 68 meetings, phone calls or texts aimed at state or local officials; 18 public remarks targeting them; and 125 social media posts, the committee says.
The report also revealed more details about the fake elector plan, which the committee alleges Trump embraced when it became clear that state officials in Georgia, Arizona, Pennsylvania and other key battlegrounds would not overturn the results in their states and replace Biden electors with Trump electors.
While the committee referred conservative attorney John Eastman to the Justice Department on Monday for his role in the scheme to pressure Pence to reject states’ electoral votes on Jan. 6, the report identifies Trump-allied lawyer Kenneth Chesebro as central to conceptualizing the plot.
As it was tasked to do, the committee also issued a number of recommendations to both Congress and federal agencies. It called for reforms to the Electoral Count Act of 1887 to make it clear that the vice president does not have the authority to unilaterally reject electoral votes, an update that is already in the works. Congress will pass such a recommendation this week as part of its omnibus spending package.
The panel also urged congressional committees to examine whether to create a “formal mechanism” to evaluate whether to bar Trump and others identified in the report from holding future office under the 14th Amendment.
In addition, the Jan. 6 committee recommended that federal agencies undertake a “whole of government strategy” to root out and combat violent extremism, including white nationalists. And it urged law enforcement to designate future certifications of presidential elections as a “national special security event.” That would require greater planning, coordination and security for future Jan. 6 certification events at the Capitol.
“Driven by our investigative findings, these recommendations will help strengthen the guardrails of our democracy,” Thompson wrote.
The report marks the culmination of a sweeping congressional investigation that included 11 public hearings, more than 100 subpoenas, more than 1,200 witness interviews and the collection of hundreds of thousands of text messages, emails and other documents.
The committee has already begun releasing dozens of transcripts from witnesses who invoked their Fifth Amendment rights, including Trump associates Eastman, Roger Stone, Michael Flynn and Jeffrey Clark.
On Thursday, the Jan. 6 panel released transcripts of the testimony of former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson, who had testified that Trump was aware the mob was armed when he sent it to the Capitol and that he had tried to join his supporters there.
In the coming days, the committee also plans to release other transcripts from interviews and depositions, as well as video and other documents and records.
Because House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., created it as a “select” committee, the panel expires at the end of the year. Republicans, who will take control of the House in January, have no plans to renew it.
At her final news conference as speaker Thursday, Pelosi praised Thompson, Cheney and the other Jan. 6 members for their “persistent, patriotic leadership.”
“The 117th Congress began with a violent assault on our democracy, and now we hear its conclusions,” she said. “We have a vital road map ensuring justice will be done … and that this won’t happen again.”