Members and staff Jan. 6 committee members are actively preparing for a multi-pronged Republican revenge campaign when the GOP takes the House next month, anticipating an all-out effort to discredit the panel’s work and punish its workers, according to current staff. and ex, as well as other sources knowledgeable about the situation.
As the committee prepares its final report, staff are also preparing to investigate their investigation, including with subpoenas seeking access to a year-and-a-half of their private communications, emails and other documents, they said. the sources.
“I was told [months ago] by a superior to meticulously avoid putting anything in writing or email that could one day be used against the committee and our important work,” says a former investigator. “Nothing that can be taken out of context, and nothing that can be considered a sort of ‘smoking gun’ for Jim Jordan and [Marjorie Taylor Greene’s] of Congress”.
Anticipating attacks from the GOP, some current and former employees have asked their supervisors whether they should preemptively detain attorneys, or at least screen potential attorneys. Earlier this year, several committee staffers were advised to purchase professional liability insurance in anticipation of an impending GOP counter-inquiry, according to two sources familiar with the committee’s work. Both sources say they bought it. When asked by Rolling stone which is why they decided to buy insurance earlier this year, one of them simply said, “Because I’m not an idiot.”
Republicans have been vocal about their plans to follow the panel. According to a source with direct knowledge of the matter, Donald Trump spoke with Republican allies earlier this year about potential plans to tear up the undisclosed January 6 committee documents and communications, with the goal of uncovering dirt or unflattering details. Trump even privately suggested possible avenues of investigation, the source said, including investigating whether committee members leaked details to the press or divulged embarrassing material about the former president and his loyalists. And House up-and-comer Kevin McCarthy has publicly indicated plans to investigate the investigators, part of the party’s ongoing quest to insulate Donald Trump from the aftermath of Jan. 6. In a letter dated Nov. 30, McCarthy told the committee to preserve his voluminous records.
The committee was already required to keep its records, with or without McCarthy’s letter. And the committee staff considered it a glorified press release. One source familiar with the committee’s work adds that an irony that has been discussed among some staff members is that the “bad faith arguments used by Trump and his allies, including Republican House members, to obstruct the select committee could come back to haunt them, if used by targets of the investigations of the incoming majority”.
Still, it’s unclear what, exactly, House Republicans will be able to get their hands on if — and more likely when — the party starts flipping the committee’s Jan. 6 operations.
“The question isn’t what can be subpoenaed, but what the committee is required to turn over to its successor committee or the National Archives under House rules,” says Michael Stern, an attorney and former senior counsel to the House of Representatives. “It gets more obscure if you’re talking about informal staff work products like notes and the like… If the incoming majority think there are things that should have been delivered that weren’t, or just want access to certain information, they could issue subpoenas sue or take other steps to gain access to documents that are in the hands of individual members and staff. Its options will depend in part on whether those individuals are still members or staff of the House at the next Congress.”
The looming attacks add new pressure to an already tense time for the House committee. The final stretch of the panel was rocked by internal divisions, according to current and former staff, and other sources knowledgeable about the situation.
There have been leaks, “angry” resignations, internal paranoia, pointed fingers and, above all, bitter controversies about what to include in the final report, the sources say. In general, there have been divisions between committee staffers working on the investigation and members of Congress serving as panel management. “The rest of the staff seem to trust and like each other enough to perform tasks efficiently. But mistrust between management and staff, which unsurprisingly resulted from copious leaks and appallingly bad management over the last 18 months, has blown away any remaining goodwill,” said a staff member who said spoken on condition of anonymity Rolling stone.
“There was a time not too long ago when staff would have been happy to work 80-hour weeks and take on seemingly insurmountable tasks because the mission was worth it, management be damned,” says committee staffer . “It’s hard to get people to give a shit when higher ups – management and some members – have been systematically shitting on the people who are actually carrying out the investigations, whether for really being assholes or just for mishandling this top-down thing.” .”
Suspicion among members and staff increased following a November story by The Washington Post, where 15 staffers said they heard the committee that the committee’s vice chair, Rep. Liz Cheney, ignored or tried to remove important findings on the insurrection that didn’t directly concern former President Trump. Multiple informed sources confirm a Rolling stone that a number of current and former Jan. 6 staffers believe that while the committee has gone hard on Trump, it too often has easily let its enablers into the GOP elite, just as it has ignored other conservative drivers behind the ” electoral fraud” conspiracy theories that led to the assault on the Capitol.
Sources close to the matter also say so Rolling stone that ahead of the expected release of the final report this month, several staffers resigned in “angry” resignations, complaining to their colleagues and other aides on Capitol Hill about missed opportunities and perceived personal agendas by committee members.
Some staff members have also begun to express regret over what they see as major missteps by committee members in not more aggressively prosecuting some witnesses, including Fox News host Sean Hannity. However, according to those familiar with the matter, Hannity was mostly left alone by the committee — and no subpoenas were issued to him — in part because of concerns and potential backlash regarding his First Amendment protections like pro-Trump journalist.
The committee initially wrote to Hannity asking for a voluntary interview with the Fox News host. Hannity’s testimony was needed, they wrote, because she “had advance knowledge of President Trump and his legal team’s planning for January 6” and had “provided[ed] advice” to Trump and his aides on efforts to overturn the election.
Cheney and committee chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson seemed wary of prosecuting Hannity any more forcefully with a subpoena. In their initial letter, the inquiry leaders sought to frame their inquiries as unrelated to Hannity’s work in journalism and ban questions about “any of your broadcasts or political opinions or comments.”
But some staff members now view this cautious approach as a mistake. “[The committee] let him off the hook, but that was the case for a large part of the Republican Party who would have to answer for what happened,” says one such source.
Text messages from Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows released by the committee showed Hannity acting as a de facto campaign arm in the wake of the election, offering advice on issues such as “Directing legal strategies against Biden.”
The edgy final stretch follows a wildly successful summer and fall for the panel, in which she earned praise and high ratings with a series of hearings that offered shocking revelations about Trump’s clashes with the Secret Service, advance warnings about supporters armed with Trump and Trump’s comments that Vice President Mike Pence “deserved” threats from MAGA fans.
Republicans will take control of the House at noon on January 3, 2023.