The House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol has been releasing a near-daily dribble of interview transcripts this week, shedding light on avenues of inquiry big and small during its lengthy investigation.
They include assertions by a top White House security official that he didn’t know who Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio was when Tarrio was given a White House tour just weeks before the mob attack and by Virginia Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who said she regretted ever sending texts to then Chief of Staff Mark Meadows urging him to overturn the 2020 election results.
The House committee’s investigation report – which runs more than 800 pages – concluded Trump was to blame for the rioting that interrupted and sought to upend the certification of President Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election. The committee recommended the Department of Justice consider criminal charges against Trump.
“The central cause of January 6th was one man, former President Donald Trump, whom many others followed,” the committee report said. “None of the events of January 6th would have happened without him.”
That report was based on the committee’s 18-month investigation and interviews of roughly 1,000 people. Here’s the latest:
Ginni Thomas: ‘I regret all of these texts’
Virginia Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, said she regrets ever sending texts to then Chief of Staff Mark Meadows urging him to overturn the 2020 election results in her testimony before the Jan. 6 House committee.
The messages, sent between November 2020 and mid-January 2021, came during “an emotional time” for Thomas, she said. One text, which Thomas forwarded to Meadows from Congressional Chief of Staff Connie Hair, reads “there are no rules in war.”
“I would take them all back if I could today,” Thomas said of the messages, adding that she regrets their tone, context and content.
— Savannah Kuchar
Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio given a White House tour weeks before Jan. 6
White House security chief Anthony Ornato told the Jan. 6 committee that he didn’t remember how Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio had been given a tour of the White House just three weeks before the Capitol assault – or about Secret Service concerns given Tarrio’s status as the head of a violent right-wing extremist organization.
In his Nov. 29, 2022 testimony – his third before the committee – Ornato was shown a flurry of emails from White House-based senior Secret Service officials about Tarrio’s tour on Dec. 12, 2020. In one, a Secret Service deputy assistant director, Ron Rowe, asked, “Can we get some specifics on who submitted him for the tour? Why didn’t we pick up on his role/membership in the Proud Boys?”
“Were you familiar with who Enrique Tarrio was?” a committee investigator asked Ornato, a former Secret Service official who became the deputy White House chief of staff overseeing the logistics of the president’s movements at Trump’s request. “I was not,” he responded.
When asked, “Mr. Ornato, but in mid-December you had to be aware of who the Proud Boys were, no?,” Ornato replied: “I don’t recall. There was so many groups.”
Ornato acknowledged that there would be a lot of negative media coverage of Tarrio’s tour if it became public, especially given how the group was involved in violent altercations in Washington just a few weeks earlier. But he said he didn’t recall following up on the security incident at the time. “I don’t remember having a discussion about it,” Ornato said.
— Josh Meyer
White House lawyer to Trump legal ally in January 2021: “What type of F’ing lawyer are you?”
The Jan. 6 committee on Friday provided new details about White House lawyer Eric Herschmann’s now-infamous clash with one of the architects of then-President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the election in early 2021 and illegally stay in power.
Herschmann became a star witness for the Jan. 6 committee when he described an especially tense confrontation with John Eastman, the California law professor who developed the controversial strategy to overturn Trump’s loss to Democratic rival Joe Biden. At one of the committee’s hearings last summer, Herschmann was shown describing how Eastman called him the day after the Capitol attack about efforts to overturn Biden’s victory in the crucial swing state of Georgia.
Herschmann said he responded, “‘Are you out of your effing mind?’ I said I only want to hear two words coming out of your mouth from now on: ‘orderly transition.'”
In his full testimony released Friday, Herschmann also said he excoriated Eastman for speaking at Trump’s so-called “Stop the Steal” rally the morning of Jan. 6. “What I told him on that call is, you know, about him speaking at the Ellipse on the morning. And I did say to him, you know, in a rather harsh tone, you got up there and you F’ing spoke at the Ellipse at a rally? You’re a law professor and you’re speaking at a rally, right? And what type of F’ing lawyer are you, or law professor are you.”
— Josh Meyer
Trump Jr. told committee he couldn’t remember key details of his dealings with his father in weeks leading up to and after the Jan. 6 riot
Donald Trump Jr. said he couldn’t remember much about his dealings with his father, then-President Donald Trump, in the weeks leading up to and after the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol, according to a newly released transcript of his interview with the House committee investigating the insurrection.
Despite publicly claiming that he and his father were working hand-in-glove on his re-election campaign, Trump Jr. told the Jan. 6 committee that he could not “remember” or not “recall” dozens of interactions that were being investigated for evidence of the former president’s role in possibly illegal attempts to overturn the election results that saw Trump defeated by Democratic rival Joe Biden. Those included the “Stop the Steal” campaign orchestrated by Trump confidante Roger Stone and efforts to force election officials in Georgia and other states to essentially throw out the official popular vote count and declare Trump the winner.
When a committee investigator asked Trump Jr. if he was present when anyone “advised your father to concede the election, to just move on and drop the challenges?” he responded: “Not that I recall.” And when asked if he knew what happened to the $240 million raised by the Trump campaign to fight election fraud that was not spent on post-election litigation or related matters, Trump Jr. said, “I do not.” Trump Jr. said he didn’t even remember if he ever discussed the now-infamous Jan. 6 rally preceding the Capitol attack with his father, even though he and his fiance Kimberly Guilfoyle had been heavily involved in planning it. When asked when he recalled first talking to Trump about Jan. 6, Trump Jr. testified, “I’m not sure that I ever recall talking to him about it before it.”