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Jan. 6 committee delays Wednesday hearing, citing need to compile video evidence

Thursday hearing still on, will focus on Trump pressure campaign on Pence

Jan. 6 panel Chairperson Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., and Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., speak with reporters Monday. The panel delayed a Wednesday hearing.
Jan. 6 panel Chairperson Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., and Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., speak with reporters Monday. The panel delayed a Wednesday hearing. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The House Jan. 6 select committee postponed its Wednesday hearing, which was scheduled to examine the way in which Donald Trump used the waning days of his presidency to install Jeffrey Clark as acting attorney general to perpetuate his voter fraud claims when others in the Justice Department refused and threatened to resign.

Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., a member of the special panel, told MSNBC the committee’s video team needs more time to compile video exhibits.

“I think we’re just firming up. There’s no big deal,” Lofgren told the network.

Originally, there were supposed to be three hearings this week, but Lofgren said that proved to be too much work in not enough time. Putting together the video exhibits is an “exhausting exercise” for the staff of the committee, and having three hearings in one week is “too much,” she said.

“So we’re trying to give them a little room to do their technical work is mainly it,” Lofgren said.

[Trump pushed ‘big lie’ despite knowing it was false, ripped small donors off, Jan. 6 panel says]

The panel has held two high-profile June hearings.

The first was in prime time on June 9, during which the panel made clear it intends to show a seven-point plan overseen by Trump to attempt a coup and overturn the 2020 election. The second was Monday, when the committee focused on how Trump pushed his “big lie” about a stolen election to rev up the eventual rioters who attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and also to “rip off” his supporters to the tune of $250 million.

The panel said it intends to go ahead with a planned Thursday afternoon hearing that is slated to focus on Trump’s unsuccessful pressure campaign on then-Vice President Mike Pence to reject Congress’ count of the states’ Electoral College votes.

The delay means the panel at a later date will examine Clark proposing DOJ send a letter to Georgia officials and five other states saying DOJ identified substantial concerns that might have impacted the outcome of the 2020 presidential election. Citing his 5th Amendment privilege against self-incrimination, Clark refused to testify before the committee.

“Had Clark assumed the role of Attorney General in the days before January 6th and issued these letters, the ramifications could indeed have been grave,” Vice Chair Liz Cheney said at last Thursday’s hearing.

The delayed Wednesday hearing will “likely” be postponed until next week, Rep. Pete Aguilar said, adding Thursday’s hearing will still take place.

“The schedule has always been fluid,” Aguilar said. “So we’re going to move forward and have a Thursday hearing, and then get ready for hearings next week, as well.”

It is unclear whether the committee will make a decision on whether to move forward with a criminal referral of Trump.

On Monday, Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., told CNN that it is “not our job” when asked about the panel’s appetite for making a criminal referral to the Justice Department regarding former President Donald Trump. “No, that’s not our job. Our job is to look at the facts and circumstances around January 6, what caused it and make recommendations after that,” Thompson told the network.

On Twitter Monday night, Cheney said the committee has not yet “issued a conclusion regarding potential criminal referrals,” and will announce a determination at “an appropriate time.”

Aguilar told reporters Tuesday that members of the panel “haven’t had this conversation” regarding a potential criminal referral. When the hearings are completed, the committee will discuss “next steps” that includes the final report with legislative recommendations, he said, along with “any other material that we seek or any other letters that we send.”

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