What is the January 6 committee and how could it impact Trump?

Ivanka Trump, eldest daughter of former president, appeared electronically before the committee

US Capitol police prevent rioters from breaking into the House chamber at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021. AP

Donald Trump's daughter Ivanka testified on Tuesday before the January 6th committee probing the 2021 Capitol assault, as politicians push to gather evidence from the former president's inner circle.

She appeared via video link and spent several hours speaking with committee members, one of whom has indicated they had evidence that Ms Trump had pleaded with her father to call off the violence as his supporters stormed Congress.

The committee has already spoken to approximately 800 witnesses -- including Ivanka Trump's husband Jared Kushner -- and has been working its way through 90,000 documents and more than 435 phone tip-offs.

Five people died as a direct result of the attack, and several police officers have taken their own lives in the months since.

The committee's work is ongoing, with its investigative teams focused on funding, motivations, organisational coalitions and how Mr Trump threatened politicians and election officials, such as Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.

Although they cannot arrest or bring charges against people, their discovery may be used to shape new legislation. For example, in October 2021, committee members began drafting a bill designed to clarify the procedures for certifying presidential elections.

The committee's findings may also be used in arguments to hold people legally accountable.

Who are the committee members?

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi appointed seven Democrats and two Republicans, Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, with Bennie Thompson serving as committee chairman.

Adam Schiff of California and Jamie Raskin of Maryland are two of the better-known Democrats on the committee.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy warned Mr Kinzinger and Ms Cheney have been ostracised by fellow Republicans for joining the committee.

What have they done?

July 2021

The committee hears evidence from four police officers who were on the front line as rioters attacked the Capitol.

They include Daniel Hodges, an officer with the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia, who was crushed in a doorway between rioters and a police line.

Michael Fanone, a Metropolitan Police Department officer, says rioters pulled him into the crowd, beat him with a flagpole, stole his badge, repeatedly shocked him with his Taser and went for his gun.

Mr Fanone says he supports the creation of the January 6 commission and criticises those who played down the attack.

August 2021

Committee investigators say they will seek phone records of members of Congress, the records of at least 30 members of Mr Trump's inner circle from seven government agencies and the White House communication records held by the National Archives.

Records from social media companies such as Twitter, Parler, Facebook and TikTok are also sought.

September 2021

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, deputy chief of staff Dan Scavino, former Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale, chief adviser Steve Bannon and Kash Patel, Pentagon official and aide to former House intelligence committee chairman Devin Nunes, receive subpoenas from the committee.

October 2021

The committee issues subpoenas to Stop the Steal LLC organiser Ali Alexander and assistant attorney general Jeffrey Clark.

Mr Trump says he will defy requests for information from the committee by asserting executive privilege and files a lawsuit against the National Archives, stating that the records request was “illegal, unfounded, and overbroad” and amounted to a “fishing expedition”.

Documents requested include phone logs, communications with Mr Meadows and others as well as White House visitor records.

The same month, Mr Bannon claims that Mr Trump’s executive privilege also protects him from being compelled to appear as the former president instructed him to defy the subpoena.

The committee announces that it will hold Mr Bannon in contempt.

Former Trump director of strategic communications Alyssa Farah, who told CNN that Mr Trump had lied about the election results, complies with the committee’s interview request, as does former acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen.

November 2021

Mr Clark claims attorney-client privilege and refuses to appear.

Meanwhile, the committee wants to know what happened at Washington’s historic Willard Hotel, known as the “war room”, where Trump associates reportedly met to formulate plans to stop the January 6 certification.

Subpoenas are issued for InfoWars host Alex Jones, long-time Republican operative Roger Stone, former senior adviser for policy Stephen Miller, Mike Pence's national security adviser Keith Kellogg, former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, lawyer John Eastman, and Bernard Kerik, a Trump ally who took part in the Willard Hotel meetings.

 A 'war room' reportedly set up in a luxury Washington hotel by advisers of former president Donald Trump has become the focus of the congressional investigation into the violent January 6 attack on the US Capitol. AFP

Warrants are issued for the leaders of the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, along with Robert Patrick Lewis, chairman of the 1st Amendment Praetorian.

Federal judge Tanya Chutkan denies Mr Trump's October request to seal archived documents, writing in a 39-page ruling that he “appears to be premised on the notion that his executive power 'exists in perpetuity'".

“But presidents are not kings, and plaintiff is not president.”

Mr Trump appeals against the ruling and, after he is again denied, he takes his case to the Supreme Court.

Mr Bannon surrenders to the FBI.

December 2021

The committee votes unanimously to hold Mr Clark in contempt of Congress.

Mr Meadows stops co-operating and sues Ms Pelosi and the committee. The House votes in favour of holding him in contempt.

A committee report reveals that Mr Meadows sent an email on January 5 promising that the National Guard would “protect pro-Trump people”.

Ms Cheney reads aloud texts Mr Meadows traded with the former president and others on and around January 6, indicating that Mr Trump may have committed a felony by obstructing the electoral certification proceedings.

Mr Stone pleads his Fifth Amendment rights and refuses to answer questions.

January 2022

The committee says they have all emails exchanged between Mr Meadows and Fox News host Sean Hannity and have also asked Hannity to comply with requests to speak.

One notable January 6 insurrectionist co-operating with the committee is former Olympic gold medallist, swimmer Klete Keller, who pleaded guilty to obstruction.

Keller’s plea deal includes a co-operation agreement and prosecutors say that he is already providing useful information.

He was in the Capitol building at a “crucial hour”, said assistant US attorney Troy Edwards.

“Apart from his co-operating with the government investigation, he potentially has an opportunity to aid the government in a trial that has been set [about people] around him that day.”

February 2022

The Republican Party censures Ms Cheney and Mr Kinzinger over their involvement in Congress's investigation.

March 2022

A House Select Committee court filing suggests Mr Trump and his lawyer John Eastman may have been involved in “criminal conspiracy”. The filing marks the first time the committee has linked a formal crime to Mr Trump.

“The Select Committee also has a good-faith basis for concluding that the president and members of his campaign engaged in a criminal conspiracy to defraud the United States,” the House panel said in the lawsuit, filed in the US District Court in the Central District of California.

Mr Eastman has been claiming attorney-client privilege, making his communications with Mr Trump inaccessible — but the House panel wants to see them.

The panel is arguing that privilege is voided by the “crime/fraud exception”, meaning that if that if Mr Trump and Mr Eastman were actively planning to invalidate the election results in those communications, that is a crime.

Depending on the findings, House members may make a criminal referral to the Justice Department for Mr Trump.

The committee does not have the power to bring criminal charges on its own and can only make a referral to the Justice Department.

It nonetheless is the most significant development to come from the nine-member panel since it was established in July 2021 to investigate the events leading up to the deadly January 6 insurrection, in which a mob of Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol and tried to block Joe Biden's certification as president.

“The facts we’ve gathered strongly suggest that [Mr] Eastman’s emails may show that he helped Donald Trump advance a corrupt scheme to obstruct the counting of electoral college ballots and a conspiracy to impede the transfer of power,” the committee’s chairman Bennie Thompson and vice chairwoman Liz Cheney said in a statement.

The committee also issued a subpoena for the romantic partner of Donald Trump Jr, Kimberly Guilfoyle, who initially had told investigators that she would voluntarily appear.

“Ms. Guilfoyle met with Donald Trump inside the White House, spoke at the rally that took place before the riot on January 6th, and apparently played a key role organizing and raising funds for that event,” Mr Thompson said.

Jared Kusher, Mr Trump's son-in-law and former senior adviser, voluntarily appeared before the committee where he provided "valuable information", a member of the panel said.

Mr Kushner's testimony came during the same week that one January 6 rioter, was sentenced to nearly four years in prison for bringing a "small armoury" of weapons to the Capitol on the day of the attack.

Over 240 people have pleaded guilty with crimes related to the riot, and more than 130 have been sentenced.

April 2022

Ivanka Trump appears before the committee. It asked the 40-year-old businesswoman — a senior adviser to her father — to appear voluntarily, telling her it had evidence that she had pleaded with him to call off the violence as his supporters stormed Congress.

"She's answering questions. I mean, you know, not in a broad, chatty term, but she's answering questions," Representative Bennie Thompson, the panel's Democratic chairman, said on CNN.

Updated: April 05, 2022, 10:17 PM
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