The House select committee investigating January 6 has finished its work — and on Thursday, it released its final report to the public.
While the final report isn’t as complete as the committee may have hoped, the unparalleled resources and access the committee had means the report is as expansive a look into what actually happened on January 6, 2021, as we are likely to get.
The report is largely a vehicle for the committee’s evidence, methodically laid out to form its case against former President Donald Trump and his allies. It also features the panel’s recommendations for possible criminal charges against Trump and those who aided him. Those include:
- Obstruction of an official proceeding, for what the committee describes as the former president’s efforts to disrupt Congress’s certification of the election, and his encouragement of insurrectionists
- Conspiracy to defraud the US, for plans witnesses say Trump and his allies made together to overturn the election results
- Conspiracy to make a false statement, for a plan the committee found Trump and others participated in to recruit false electors to scramble the electoral count
- Inciting, assisting, or providing aid and comfort to an insurrection, warranted, the committee says, for Trump calling on supporters to head to the Capitol, refusing to tell them to stand down for hours, and praising rioters even as he told them to disperse
- Other conspiracy, particularly 18 USC § 372 and § 2384; the former makes it a crime to forcibly prevent someone from “accepting or holding” office, while the latter makes it illegal to try to overthrow the US government or block US law from being executed — the committee believes Trump may be guilty of both
- Obstruction of an investigation; without naming anyone, the committee alleges some of those whom it interviewed may have been advised to lie during interviews
Overall, the report explains in detail who did what, when, and what we know about why, painstakingly laying out evidence to show that Trump wanted to remain president despite having lost the 2020 election and that he tried to have members of his administration and his followers help him retain power.
The report provides evidence the committee collected to assert that Trump knew throughout his campaign to remain in power that he’d lost, that he knew the conspiracy theories he publicly advanced about election fraud were false, that he pressured officials to back his bid to challenge the results despite being told he could be breaking the law, that he lied in federal court, and that he spurred on the insurrectionists even after he’d been told they were armed, some heavily. The violence and death of January 6, the report argues, was the culmination of that failed effort.
The nearly 850 page report was compiled following more than 1,000 interviews with figures with firsthand knowledge about the attack on the Capitol and the events that led up to it, including Capitol Police officers like Caroline Edwards, White House lawyer Eric Herschmann, and former US Attorney General Bill Barr.
Many of these officials gave testimony to committee members that featured in hearings; others, like then-acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson, testified live. Transcripts of some witness testimony — including sessions with former Trump campaign adviser Roger Stone, Turning Point USA executive director Charlie Kirk, and one of the leaders of the Proud Boys, Enrique Tarrio — have now been released by the committee.
Those interviews, along with several million documents, were analyzed by lawmakers on the committee and their staff over 17 months, and many of the key findings of their investigation were shared at the 10 public hearings the committee has held this year. Those revelations include:
- Top White House officials were warned January 6 could be “real bad” but ignored those warnings
- Trump wanted to go to the Capitol after his speech at the Ellipse, is said to have had a physical altercation with a Secret Service agent, and broke things at the White House when his aides wouldn’t let him join the insurrectionists
- Witnesses claimed Trump said Vice President Mike Pence “deserves” the threats of hanging he received while at the Capitol to certify the election
- Justice Department environmental lawyer Jeffrey Clark attempted to take over the DOJ in order to use the department to challenge the election results; his effort, said to be sanctioned by Trump, failed
- Far-right Reps. Scott Perry (R-PA), Andy Biggs (R-AZ), Mo Brooks (R-AL), Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Louie Gohmert (R-TX), and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) all were said to have asked Trump for pardons for their roles in the January 6 riot; many have denied doing so
- Trump refused to admit he’d lost, though he was repeatedly told he had — and those around him repeatedly showed him why the conspiracy theories he has publicized were false; he appeared not to listen
The committee was forced to wrap up its work quickly. Four of its members won’t be in the next Congress after either losing reelection or retiring, and the coming GOP majority has made it clear it has no plans to continue the investigation.
That means the report, as detailed as it is, won’t be able to answer every question about the day’s events. The committee had to abandon its legal battles to procure the phone records of various Trump officials, January 6 observers, and far-right leaders. It also wasn’t able to speak to players like Trump or his chief of staff Mark Meadows.
It’s possible a future Democratic House could pick up where this one left off; until then, what we know is contained in the report above.
Update, December 23, 9:30 am ET: This story was originally published on December 19 and has been updated with the full report released by the January 6 committee.