The House select committee investigating the Capitol riot expects to receive erased Secret Service text messages from Jan. 5 and Jan. 6, 2021, by Tuesday, and will present testimony from new witnesses during Thursday’s public hearing, its members said Sunday.
Fanning out on Sunday programs, multiple members of the committee discussed the latest developments in their investigation and plans surrounding the prime-time hearing this week, which will focus on what the panel has called the crucial “187 minutes” — the length of time it took for former President Donald Trump to urge his supporters to leave the Capitol after the attack began.
The panel on Friday issued a subpoena to the Secret Service after a Homeland Security Department official traveled to Capitol Hill and briefed all nine committee members about the federal agency erasing text messages from the day and eve of the riot.
Investigators gave the Secret Service until Tuesday to turn over the documents, and Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., a member of the committee, said on ABC News’ “This Week” that they expect to receive them on time.
“We need them. And we expect to get them by this Tuesday,” she said. “I was shocked to hear that they didn’t back up their data before they reset their iPhones — that’s crazy. I don’t know why that would be. But we need to get this information to get the full picture.”
Anthony Guglielmi, a spokesperson for the Secret Service, has called allegations that the agency deleted messages categorically false. During a “pre-planned, three-month system migration,” he said, data on some phones was lost but that none of the text messages being sought was permanently deleted. Guglielmi also insisted that the Secret Service would respond “swiftly to the Committee’s subpoena.”
Former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson last month delivered bombshell testimony that included a description of a physical altercation that Trump got into with a top security official when he learned he was being driven back to the White House instead of to the Capitol to join his supporters after his speech at the Ellipse, which preceded the riot. Relaying what she was told by then-White House deputy chief of staff Tony Ornato, Hutchinson said that Trump had grabbed the steering wheel from the back seat and a bodyguard’s throat.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., who will lead Thursday’s hearing with Rep. Elaine Luria, D-Va., said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” that it’s unlikely the committee would hear more testimony from Bobby Engel, then the head of Trump’s security detail, or Ornato before Thursday. Both had spoken to the committee before Hutchinson’s testimony.
Luria said this week’s hearing would feature more videotaped testimony from former White House counsel Pat Cipollone, whom Hutchinson said had asked Mark Meadows, then-chief of staff, for help in talking to Trump about calling off rioters during the attack. She also said the panel would present testimony from witnesses who have not been heard from in previous hearings.
“Cipollone’s testimony is very valuable … but there’s actually more,” Luria said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “There’s other witnesses we’ve spoken to who have yet to appear in our previous hearings, who will add a lot of value and information to the events of that critical time in January.”
All three members signaled that their investigation isn’t nearing the finish line, telling the public that they’re still gathering new evidence and learning more about the attack. And while Thursday’s hearing is the last in this “tranche” of eight hearings, Lofgren said the investigation could go past the elections this fall, and there might be another round of public hearings later this year.
“This is going to open people’s eyes in a big way,” Kinzinger said. “If I was a president sworn to defend the Constitution — that includes the legislative branch — watching this on television, I know I would have been going ballistic to try to save the Capitol. He did quite the opposite.”
Trump, who denies any wrongdoing, has attacked the Jan. 6 panel and characterized its hearings as a political “witch hunt.”