Reprinted with permission from DailyKos
On Monday, Rep. Bennie Thompson made it clear that the House Select Committee investigating events related to the January 6 insurgency could begin issuing subpoenas within the next few days. Back on August 25, the committee sent a request for documents to a long list of recipients. While some recipients have turned over the requested information, a large number have not. As CNN reports, Thompson will skip right past the farce of sending any of these people or groups reminders or asking them politely to show up at the House. Instead, the committee will move straight to the subpoena phase and let the courts tell them how much executive privilege does not apply to this case.
Meanwhile, on the Senate side of Capitol Hill, FBI Director Christopher Wray sat down to testify before the Senate Homeland Security Committee on the topic of the biggest threats the United States faces 20 years after 9/11. While that testimony was wide-ranging and the subject of the day may not seem focused on events around Jan. 6, that doesn't mean that those events didn't come up. That's because Wray's opening statement shows that the FBI has used a very specific label for what happened when thousands of Trump supporters closed on the Capitol, smashed through police lines, and took actions that led directly to multiple deaths.
"Overall, the FBI assesses that the January 6th siege of the Capitol Complex demonstrates a willingness by some to use violence against the government in furtherance of their political and social goals. This ideologically motivated violence—domestic terrorism—underscores the symbolic nature of the National Capital Region and the willingness of some Domestic Violent Extremists to travel to events in this area and violently engage law enforcement and their perceived adversaries."
That wasn't the only time Wray drew a comparison between those involved on Jan. 6 and international terrorists. Elsewhere in his testimony, he spoke on how militia groups inside the United States are using the same technological tools as enemies abroad. It wasn't just January 6 that Wray used as an example of the violent threat inside the U.S. He also included the attempted kidnapping of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer by Trump supporters who hoped to "start a civil war."
"This problem spans international and domestic terrorism threats. Like Al-Shamrani, the plotters who sought to kidnap the Governor of Michigan late last year used end-to-end-encrypted apps to hide their communications from law enforcement. Their plot was disrupted only by well-timed human source reporting and the resulting undercover operation. Subjects of our investigation into the January 6th Capitol siege used end-to-end encrypted communications as well."
As ABC reports, Wray informed the Senate that he is "surging resources" toward the department's domestic terrorism investigations. The number of personnel assigned to these investigations has increased by 260 percent as the caseload has jumped from roughly 1,000 investigations to 2,700. However, considering how the FBI has downplayed the threat from far-right extremists in the past, it's not clear that this increase is anywhere near sufficient.
On the House side, the August 25 document request went out to a long list of recipients. That request touched on everything from the phone records of Republican members of Congress who admitted talking to Trump during the assault on the Capitol, to Pentagon records connected to how decisions were made about restricting the use of National Guard forces, to records related to a scheme that would have replaced the attorney general with a Trump attorney ready to block the results of the November election in court. In addition to emails, memos, and phone records, the committee sought information from social media companies, where known white supremacist groups openly planned violence for January 6.
In all, requests went out to eight federal agencies, 35 telecommunications companies, 15 social media companies, and what The Washington Post called a "jaw-dropping" list of individuals.
Not surprisingly, Republicans expressed shock that anyone would try to get a complete picture of events on January 6 and the planning that led up to militia members storming the Capitol, injuring at least 140 police, and leaving behind a path of destruction—along with literal sh#t on the halls of Congress. Included in the list of those requested to provide information was every single adult member of the Trump family whose first name is not "Tiffany."
As Forbes reports, the information the committee has already collected means that new information about the events of January 6 is "surfacing every single day." That includes information related to the scheme by which Trump attorneys wanted Mike Pence to overthrow the election. Rep. Liz Cheney, one of two Republicans on the committee, stated that the reason for collecting so much information was so that the committee could get past showing people "bits and pieces" of what happened and "lay out the full picture of what really happened, decisions that were made, and how it led to the attack on the Capitol."
And, as The Los Angeles Times makes clear, the importance of getting that "full picture" could not be more critical.
The House select committee isn't a "partisan sham," as the former president has charged. It is the best and perhaps last hope we have of countering the GOP's falsehoods — that there was no insurrection, that the rioters were peaceful protesters and that the only danger to our democracy was a "stolen" 2020 election.
That the committee is moving straight to subpoenas is a good sign they understand the importance of what they're doing. Next will come seeing how fast these subpoenas can move through the courts. Because the last say in what the American public gets to see will almost certainly end up being in the hands of the judges Trump put on the Supreme Court.