The House panel investigating Jan. 6 prepares for its final meeting
JUANA SUMMERS, HOST:
Throughout its investigation, the January 6 committee revealed new and explosive details about what happened the day of the attack on the Capitol. Testimony was impassioned, eye-opening and often came from Republicans and former allies of former President Trump.
(SOUNDBITE OF MONTAGE)
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: The president was extremely angry at the attorney general's AP interview and had thrown his lunch against the wall.
WILLIAM BARR: I made it clear I did not agree with the idea of saying the election was stolen and putting out this stuff, which I told the president was bull****.
LIZ CHENEY: President Trump summoned the mob, assembled the mob and lit the flame of this attack.
SUMMERS: Now, with this Congress wrapping up, the January 6 committee is winding down. It will hold its final hearing and release its final report next week.
For what to expect and the potential political consequences of what the committee has found, joining us now is NPR congressional correspondent Claudia Grisales and NPR's senior political editor and correspondent Domenico Montanaro. Hi, guys.
DOMENICO MONTANARO, BYLINE: Thanks for having us.
CLAUDIA GRISALES, BYLINE: Hey there.
SUMMERS: So, Claudia, let's start with you. Give us a preview of what we could see from the committee on Monday as well as that report when it's released next week.
GRISALES: Right. So we're expecting to hear about criminal referrals and other recommendations from the committee. One central figure, of course, is former President Trump. The panel previewed the kind of referrals they would consider him for when it comes to crimes that they say he committed in connection with January 6. In court filings earlier this year, they said he obstructed a formal proceeding for Congress, and they also accused him of conspiracy.
And then we could also see a preview into the report itself. I talked to Chairman Bennie Thompson about this. He said it could depend on some technical fixes they need to address first, but it was sent to the printer yesterday. Let's take a listen.
BENNIE THOMPSON: We plan to accept as much of the work, that it may be online then (ph). If there are some technical issues, I can't answer that. But the committee's expectation is to share all that information.
GRISALES: So there he's saying they expect to share all the information possible that is ready at that time of the hearing on Monday. And that could include all eight chapters that they're expecting to share for the report at some point - if not Monday, later in the week - and a executive summary. Thompson has also hinted it could be as long as a thousand pages, so it could be a lot of reading to come.
SUMMERS: Domenico, we've already seen some of the political ramifications of the committee's work, but how might this final hearing next week change the national conversation? Do you think it's going to make much of a difference to the public?
MONTANARO: Well, we'll see. I mean, we saw over the summer that with this in the public, Trump's grip on the GOP appeared to be loosening. It tightened again, ironically, with the FBI search of his Florida home seeking classified documents that he took with him from the White House. But after the midterm elections, he seems to be at his most vulnerable point as leader of the GOP. He's already announced he's running for president again, threatening to exact revenge on political enemies. He even put out a policy paper yesterday saying that he was going to issue an executive order on Day 1 to, quote, "ban federal agencies from colluding with any entity to censor or categorize speech" that he thinks should be allowed and, quote, "ban federal money from being used to label" - that uses information that he says - that they will say - labeled as mis- or disinformation. It just shows the kind of threat that the committee sees that he would be.
But just how far is the committee going to go? I'm really curious to see if they do refer him to the DOJ criminally and how, even though it's up to DOJ as to whether or not they'll actually bring charges.
SUMMERS: And Claudia, this committee's work ends on December 31, likely with a slew of recommendations. But we're moving into this era of divided government in January in which Republicans will have slim control of the incoming House. So what could that mean for any action on those plans going forward?
GRISALES: Well, many will be on a clock. They have until the end of the year, as you mentioned, to wrap up their work. One of those recommendations was reforms to the Electoral Count Act, and that could be attached to a budget measure sometime next week. That's the hope anyways. But anything else, that's going to be uncertain for now.
Republicans have already listed out the ways that they hope to turn the tables on the January 6 committee. They want to investigate the panel itself, its members, perhaps even issue subpoenas as the panel did for some House Republicans. And so it's going to be difficult in terms of the panel's recommendations, if they do have any other legislative fixes that they think would be something to consider. Whether the GOP will pick that up next year is not clear.
SUMMERS: OK. And Domenico, I know you've spent a lot of time poring over our latest polling from NPR that came out this week. And it showed that many Americans are really worried about our democracy. But the partisanship that we see and hear around January 6, that seems to run into conflict with that view. So I'm hoping you can help us unpack and understand that divide for Americans.
MONTANARO: Yeah. I mean, there are huge numbers of people who see there being a serious threat to democracy. It was 83% in our poll. But each side seems to be pointing fingers at each other as the threat. And it really shows that despite the witnesses who have come forward - Republican witnesses, by the way - it's a little bit of a tree-falls-in-the-forest adage for Republicans. You know, this committee is running out of time, with Republicans set to take over the House in a few weeks. And really what we've seen is that it's been Democrats and independents who've paid closest attention to this, while Trump fans and Republicans just aren't and have been dismissing the committee despite the evidence.
SUMMERS: All right. So I know there's much, much more to come from you all and the NPR politics team on Monday when that hearing gets underway. We'll of course be covering it all. That is NPR's Domenico Montanaro and NPR's Claudia Grisales. Thanks to you both.
MONTANARO: Thanks, Juana.
GRISALES: Thank you much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.