The House Jan. 6 committee’s final report asserts that Donald Trump criminally engaged in a “multi-part conspiracy” to overturn the lawful results of the 2020 presidential election and failed to act to stop his supporters from attacking the U.S. Capitol, concluding an extraordinary 18-month investigation into the former president and the violent insurrection almost two years ago.
The 845-page report released Thursday comes after the panel interviewed more than 1,000 witnesses, held 10 hearings and obtained millions of pages of documents.
The witnesses — ranging from many of Trump’s closest aides to law enforcement to some of the rioters themselves — detailed Trump’s actions in the weeks ahead of the insurrection and how his wide-ranging pressure campaign to overturn his defeat directly influenced those who brutally pushed past the police and smashed through the windows and doors of the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
“The central cause of January 6th was one man, former President Donald Trump,” reads the report. “None of the events of January 6th would have happened without him.”
The insurrection gravely threatened democracy and “put the lives of American lawmakers at risk,” the nine-member panel concluded.
Trump facing multiple investigations
In a foreword to the report, outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says the findings should be a “clarion call to all Americans: to vigilantly guard our democracy and to give our vote only to those dutiful in their defence of our constitution.”
The report’s eight chapters of findings tell the story largely as the panel’s hearings did this summer — describing the many facets of the remarkable plan that Trump and his advisers devised to try to void U.S. President Joe Biden’s victory. The lawmakers describe his pressure on states, federal officials, lawmakers and former vice-president Mike Pence to game the system or break the law.
In the two months between the election and the insurrection, the report says, “President Trump or his inner circle engaged in at least 200 apparent acts of public or private outreach, pressure, or condemnation, targeting either State legislators or State or local election administrators, to overturn State election results.”
Trump’s repeated, false claims of widespread voter fraud resonated with his supporters, the committee said, and were amplified on social media, building on the distrust of government he had fostered for his four years in office. And he did little to stop them when they resorted to violence and stormed the Capitol.
The massive, damning report comes as Trump is running again for the presidency and also facing multiple federal investigations, including probes of his role in the insurrection and the presence of classified documents at his Florida estate.
This week is particularly fraught for him, as a House committee is expected to release his tax returns after he has fought for years to keep them private. And Trump has been blamed by Republicans for a worse-than-expected showing in November’s midterm elections, leaving him in his most politically vulnerable state since he won the 2016 election.
Posting on his social media site, Trump called the report “highly partisan” and falsely claimed it didn’t include his statement on Jan. 6 that his supporters should protest “peacefully and patriotically.” The committee noted he followed that comment with election falsehoods and charged language exhorting the crowd to “fight like hell.”
The report details a multitude of failings by law enforcement and intelligence agencies. But it makes an emphatic point that security failures are not what led to the insurrection.
“The President of the United States inciting a mob to march on the Capitol and impede the work of Congress is not a scenario our intelligence and law enforcement communities envisioned for this country,” the committee’s chairman, Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson, writes in a separate foreword.
The report details Trump’s inaction as his loyalists were violently storming the building. Returning to the White House from his fiery speech, he asked an employee if they had seen his remarks on television.
“Sir, they cut it off because they’re rioting down at the Capitol,” the staffer said, according to the report.
A White House photographer snapped a picture of Trump at 1:21 p.m., learning of the riot from the employee. “By that time, if not sooner, he had been made aware of the violent riot at the Capitol,” the report states.
In total, 187 minutes elapsed between the time Trump finished his speech at the Ellipse and his first effort to get the rioters to disperse, through an eventual video message in which he asked his supporters to go home even as he reassured them, “We love you, you’re very special.”
During those hours, dozens of staffers and associates pleaded with him to make a forceful statement. But he did not.
The committee quotes some of Trump’s most loyal supporters blaming him for the violence.
“We all look like domestic terrorists now,” longtime aide Hope Hicks texted Julie Radford, who served as Ivanka Trump’s chief of staff, in the aftermath.
Hicks also texted a White House lawyer: “I’m so upset. Everything we worked for wiped away.”
The investigation’s release is a final act for House Democrats, who are ceding power to Republicans in less than two weeks, and have spent much of their four years in power investigating Trump. Democrats impeached Trump twice, the second time a week after the insurrection. He was acquitted by the Senate both times. Other Democratic-led probes investigated his finances, his businesses, his foreign ties and his family.
On Monday, the panel of seven Democrats and two Republicans officially passed their investigation to the Justice Department, recommending the department investigate the former president on four crimes, including aiding an insurrection. While the criminal referrals have no legal standing, they are a final statement from the committee after its extensive, year-and-a-half-long probe.
Trump has tried to discredit the report, slamming members of the committee as “thugs and scoundrels” as he has continued to falsely dispute his 2020 loss.
In response to the panel’s criminal referrals, Trump said: “These folks don’t get it that when they come after me, people who love freedom rally around me. It strengthens me.”
Interview transcripts released
The committee has also begun to release hundreds of transcripts of its interviews. On Thursday, the panel released transcripts of two closed-door interviews with former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson, who testified in person at one of the televised hearings over the summer and described in vivid detail Trump’s efforts to influence the election results and indifference toward the violence as it occurred.
In the two interviews, both conducted after her July appearance at the hearing, she described how many of Trump’s allies, including her lawyer, pressured her not to say too much in her committee interviews.