January 6 committee gets inside Trump’s West Wing wall of obstruction

Committee chairman Bennie Thompson, a Democrat from Mississippi, said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that the panel has “significant testimony” that shows the White House was told to “do something” as the crowd of Trump supporters fired up by his election fantasies smashed their way into the Capitol. Vice Chair Liz Cheney, a Wyoming Republican, told ABC News of “firsthand testimony” that Trump’s daughter Ivanka, then a West Wing adviser, twice asked him to intervene in a melee in which police officers were beaten by his crowd.

Thursday’s anniversary will revisit the horrors of the attack, before which Trump had told his supporters to “fight like hell” in support of his conspiracy to steal power from Joe Biden in violation of the will of the people expressed in a democratic election.
And now the comments from committee leadership shed fresh light on the motivation behind the ex-President’s quest to keep secret documentary evidence of his role on January 6, which has reached all the way to the US Supreme Court. They also explain the refusal of several of Trump’s closest aides and acolytes to talk to the committee about what exactly he was doing in the Oval Office. It is increasingly clear that those appearances might force them to choose between telling the truth under oath and crossing their old boss, who still dominates the GOP. Two such Trump allies — his former political guru Steve Bannon and ex-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows — have already received criminal contempt referrals to the Justice Department from the committee and the full House. Bannon faces trial in July.

But this week’s events will also underscore that a year on, Trump’s enormous power over the GOP and the complicity of many of its top leaders in his voting fraud lies means that US democracy is in deeper trouble and under broader assault than ever.

A widening picture of dereliction of duty

Thompson’s and Cheney’s comments will also fuel a growing impression that the committee, which has conducted several hundred interviews, has built a detailed behind-the-scenes picture of what went on inside Trump’s West Wing on an infamous day in US history. Some of that evidence has already emerged in journalistic accounts of what went on during the insurrection. But the committee’s eventual final report would have the capacity to create a definitive record for history — and for future voters — on the truth about the attack.

There were additional signs on Sunday that the committee is making inroads into tracing the funding of the rally at the Ellipse in Washington, DC, that Trump addressed with his inflammatory lies about election fraud on January 6. Thompson raised concerns on “State of the Union” about the possibility of financial fraud in relation to the event.

Why the new legal attack from Trump allies against the House January 6 committee is a long shot

“We have not made those concerns public at this point. But we do think it’s highly concerning on our part that people raised monies for one activity, and we can’t find the money being spent for that particular activity,” he said.

The chairman also notably refused to rule out the notion that the committee could take the extraordinary step of making a criminal referral of Trump to the Justice Department. While it is not…

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