House Committee interviews Ivanka Trump & DOJ expands investigation
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On Tuesday, the panel interviewed a filmmaker who documented the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys around the time of the insurrection. Nick Quested, owner of Goldcrest Films, told Politico he “walked through [the] footage in detail,” including key meetings within the extremist groups on Jan. 5 and 6.
He had praise for how the committee is conducting the investigation. “They’ve done an incredible amount of hard work and have an exceptional grasp,” Quested said of the panel’s insight into the motivations of Proud Boys and Oath Keepers. He added that this was a “constitutional attack” that was “very serious.”
The Committee also interviewed Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner for many hours. The couple appeared separately and reportedly did not invoke executive privilege or the Fifth Amendment, unlike many other former White House staffers.
The source described Kushner as being cooperative and friendly, adding that he did the talking, as opposed to having his lawyers speak for him.
Virginia Democratic Rep. Elaine Luria told NPR the conversation with Kushner was “helpful.”
Assuming her testimony was truthful, Ivanka may have the most to reveal about Trump’s activities during the insurrection. According to The Washington Post, Ivanka was with her father before and after his speech at the Ellipse, during which time she tried to convince him to see reason and stop the violence.
Ivanka Trump, standing next to Kellogg near a grandfather clock in the back of the room, had a hard time listening to her father badger the vice president to do something she knew was not possible. “Mike Pence is a good man,” she said quietly to Kellogg, the vice president’s national security adviser who was close to Trump…After hanging up with Pence, Trump went back into the dining room to check on the crowd on TV. Ivanka Trump followed her father and tried to convince him to see the situation rationally. But she was unpersuasive…
As soon as she saw on the television in her second-floor office that the rioters were inside the Capitol, Ivanka Trump said to her aides, “I’m going down to my dad. This has to stop.” She spent several hours walking back and forth to the Oval trying to persuade the president to be stronger in telling his supporters he stood with law enforcement and ordering them to disperse…
Lindsey Graham wanted to get through to the president as well. He had an idea: call Ivanka Trump. The senator rang the first daughter on her cellphone numerous times until she finally picked up.
“You need to tell him to tell these people to leave,” Graham said.
“We’re working on it,” she replied.
New text messages sent by Donald Trump, Jr. obtained by CNN revealed the eldest Trump son’s involvement in pushing White House officials to overturn the election.
One text, sent to Mark Meadows two days after Biden was declared the winner of the 2020 election, lays out a strategy to keep Trump in office. “This is what we need to do please read it and please get it to everyone that needs to see it because I’m not sure we’re doing it,” Don Jr. sent.
“It’s very simple,” Trump Jr. texted to Meadows on November 5, adding later in the same missive: “We have multiple paths We control them all.”
The November 5 text message outlines a strategy that is nearly identical to what allies of the former President attempted to carry out in the months that followed. Trump Jr. makes specific reference to filing lawsuits and advocating recounts to prevent certain swing states from certifying their results, as well as having a handful of Republican state houses put forward slates of fake “Trump electors.”
If all that failed, according to the Trump Jr. text, GOP lawmakers in Congress could simply vote to reinstall Trump as President on January 6. “We have operational control Total leverage,” the message reads. “Moral High Ground POTUS must start 2nd term now.”
The Justice Department is expanding its probe beyond those who participated in the insurrection, casting its net to include those who planned and funded Trump’s Jan. 6 rally. According to The Washington Post, a federal grand jury has issued subpoenas to “some officials in former president Donald Trump’s orbit who assisted in planning, funding and executing the Jan. 6 rally.”
One of those subpoenaed is Ali Alexander, founder of the Stop the Steal organization. Alexander held two Stop the Steal rallies prior after the election—in November and December 2020—and he planned a rally on Jan. 6 that was ultimately canceled due to the violence that erupted. The subpoena includes requests for “information about members of the executive and legislative branches who were involved in the events or who may have helped to obstruct the certification of the 2020 election.”
Speaking through a lawyer, Mr. Alexander said on Friday that he had recently received a subpoena from a federal grand jury that is seeking information on several broad categories of people connected to pro-Trump rallies that took place in Washington after the election.
In a statement from the lawyer, Mr. Alexander said he was taking “a cooperative posture” with the Justice Department’s investigation but did not know what useful information he could give.
The Justice Department is reportedly in the preliminary stages of investigating the 15 boxes of material Trump took to Mar-a-Lago after leaving office. Some of the documents were clearly marked as “classified” and contained important national security secrets.
The investigation, first reported by The Washington Post, may explain why the House Oversight Committee is accusing the DOJ of “obstructing” its probe into the classified material. Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney wrote to Attorney General Merrick Garland (pdf) last week to complain that Department officials are “preventing [the National Archives and Records Administration] from cooperating with the Committee’s request, which is interfering with the Committee’s investigation.”
By blocking NARA from producing the documents requested by the Committee, the Department is obstructing the Committee’s investigation. The Committee does not wish to interfere in any manner with any potential or ongoing investigation by the Department of Justice. However, the Committee has not received any explanation as to why the Department is preventing NARA from providing information to the Committee that relates to compliance with the PRA, including unclassified information describing the contents of the 15 boxes from Mar-a-Lago.