January 6 committee “flooded” with new evidence on Trump coup

The chairman of the House January 6 Committee, Bennie Thompson (Democrat-Mississippi), announced Wednesday that the committee’s hearings, once scheduled to wrap up by the end of June, would continue well into July. He cited a large amount of new evidence that has come into the committee’s possession since the hearings began, including new documents, videos and witnesses, and “a lot of information to the tip line” set up by the committee staff.

Rep. Bennie Thompson, the chairman of the House Select Committee. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Thursday’s hearing, dealing with then-President Trump’s efforts to use the Department of Justice to further his plans to overturn the November 2020 election and remain in office, will proceed as scheduled, he said, but will be the last to be held this month while the committee reviews the new material. Congress begins a two-week Fourth of July recess Saturday and will not reconvene until July 11.

The three in-person witnesses set for Thursday are former acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, former acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue and Steven Engel, former head of the Office of Legal Counsel, the Justice Department’s in-house attorney. All will testify about Trump’s threats to install a lower-ranking Trump loyalist, Jeffrey Clark, as acting attorney general, who would then align the department with Trump’s efforts to remove Biden electors chosen by voters in six “battleground” states and replace them with bogus Trump electors who were chosen by the Trump campaign.

Committee aides told the press that there was a “flood” of new information coming in, generated in part by the four public hearings held so far, which have been viewed by tens of millions of people and given massive media coverage.

The most widely cited piece of new evidence is many hours of video footage submitted by British filmmaker Alex Holder, who had been authorized by Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner to prepare a documentary of the Trump 2020 campaign. In the course of this work, Holder filmed interviews with Trump, Eric Trump, Donald Jr., Ivanka Trump, Kushner and Vice President Mike Pence and had extensive access to the Trump family and campaign throughout the most critical period of the election and the post-election conflict, from September through December 2020.

Holder also shot previously unseen footage of the January 6, 2021 attack, which he has also submitted to the committee. Chairman Bennie Thompson said he had viewed some excerpts of the footage, and that Holder would give a closed-door deposition on Thursday, before the committee’s publicly televised hearing.

According to reports in the Hollywood media, Holder has sold a three-part documentary series titled Unprecedented to Discovery+, a unit of Warner Brothers, for release later this summer. According to a company spokesman cited in Deadline.com, “Featuring never-before-seen footage of the Trump family on the campaign trail and their reactions to the outcome of the election, the docuseries will offer intimate and unprecedented interviews with Trump, his family and others who were in the White House.”

Rolling Stone magazine and the New York Times have both reported that top Trump aides had no idea that the documentary project was underway and expressed surprise and even alarm when they found out about it this week. The Times reported Tuesday that at least one interview with Ivanka Trump may contradict her sworn testimony before the committee, in which she denied supporting her father’s claims of a stolen election.

Holder is a documentarian specializing in lengthy observational studies. He produced the 2016 film Keep Quiet, focused on a Hungarian politician, Csanád Szegedi, a leader of the fascist Jobbik Party, who discovered that he was of Jewish ancestry and that his grandmother had survived Auschwitz.

Holder most recently produced a five-part television documentary on a rap group in Bradford, England. According to one report, he has 11 hours on tape of the Trump family during the election and post-election period.

There were additional reports of an expanded investigation by the federal Justice Department into Trump’s efforts to install bogus slates of electors. Up to now, the FBI has interviewed people who declined to serve as electors or otherwise rebuffed the scheme. The Washington Post reported Wednesday that at least two people who were active participants in the unconstitutional and illegal scheme have been subpoenaed.

One is Brad Carver, a Georgia lawyer who reportedly agreed to serve as a Trump elector and signed an affidavit to that effect. The other was Thomas Lane in Virginia, who worked on the Trump campaign in both Arizona and New Mexico, both states targeted in the effort to steal electoral votes. Lane appears on a video showing the December 14 “ceremony” in Phoenix where the fake electors assembled to cast their votes for Trump.

The Post also reported that a phony Trump elector in Michigan had been subpoenaed, but that it was not clear whether this was for the fake elector scam or some other aspect of the campaign to overturn the 2020 election.

The January 6 investigation is itself a major factor in the deepening crisis of American capitalist politics as a whole. This was underscored by the announcement that John Wood, the senior investigator for the House Select Committee and the counsel for Vice-Chair Liz Cheney (Republican-Wyoming), would be leaving the committee at the end of the month, earlier than expected. Among the most prominent members of the staff, Wood shared the questioning, along with Representative Pete Aguilar, during the third public hearing.

Wood is a Republican who served as a staff aide to former Republican Senator John Danforth of Missouri. He was also a law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, whose own role in the Trump effort to overturn the election has come into question. Thomas’s wife Virginia, a longtime ultra-right Republican activist, was a fervent advocate of the “stop the steal” campaign and sent dozens of emails to state legislators in Arizona asking that they convene to appoint Trump electors in that state. Last week, Virginia Thomas agreed to testify before the committee.

Wood’s departure is not being publicly linked to Thomas. Instead, he is reportedly being drafted as an independent Senate candidate in Missouri, with $20 million promised in campaign funds from a political action committee headed by Danforth, his former boss. This political intervention was reportedly in the works for some time but accelerated this week after the leading candidate for the Republican Senate nomination in Missouri, former Governor Eric Greitens, released his notorious “RINO hunting” ad, in which, surrounded by armed thugs, he promises to target “Republicans in Name Only” who oppose Donald Trump.

The basis of this effort would be an agreement by the Democrats, either openly or tacitly, to abandon their own candidate who would be a heavy underdog in November, and back the conservative Wood, whose last job, before joining the January 6 committee, was as general counsel to the US Chamber of Commerce. There is little doubt that in keeping with President Biden’s appeals for a “strong Republican Party,” that Missouri Democrats would go along.