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Jan 6 committee report: Thompson and Cheney say US justice system ‘responsible for what comes next’

Capitol Riot Investigation (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)
Capitol Riot Investigation (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

The leaders of the House of Representatives’ probe into the January 6 attack on the Capitol say the panel’s work was a “first step” towards accountability that will have to be followed up by the American criminal justice system.

In a statement marking the end of the House January 6 select committee’s 18-month probe into the worst attack on the Capitol since the War of 1812, select committee chair Bennie Thompson and vice-chair Liz Cheney thanked the countless people who assisted the panel in their efforts, including “dozens” of staff who passed up other opportunities to serve “honourably” as the committee investigated the circumstances of the pro-Trump mob attack.

“It was our obligation to expose the truth, and to recommend legislative action. We have now done both, and Congress has already acted on one key recommendation. But accountability is now critical to thwart any other future scheme to overturn an election. We have made a series of criminal referrals, and our system of Justice is responsible for what comes next,” they said, adding that “others” — including state bar associations who supervise the practice of law — have “a critical role to play” in disciplining the attorneys who tried to help former president Donald Trump remain in office against the wishes of American voters.

“Our Committee has done what was necessary at this moment in our Nation’s history. It was our duty. Preservation of our great Nation is far more important than any other consideration. It is ultimately the reason we take an oath to serve our Nation: to do what is right, regardless of the consequences for ourselves or our politics,” they said.

Mr Thompson and Ms Cheney’s statement came just minutes after the panel released another tranche of transcripts from the myriad interviews with Trumpworld figures conducted over the course of the select committee’s investigation, including records of interviews of former counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway, Mr Trump’s former executive assistant Molly Michael, and his former official photographer, Shealah Craighead.

They also noted that the investigation they have led since the committee was empaneled in July 2021 was “an immense undertaking” that had faced “many hurdles, including efforts to conceal and obstruct our work and more than a dozen lawsuits,” and said the committee has now provided what they described as “an enormous volume of material” to the Department of Justice special prosecutor charged with supervising the myriad criminal probes into the twice-impeached ex-president’s conduct.

The panel’s leaders said the “vast majority” of interview transcripts have now been made public on the panel’s website, and added that they’ve asked agencies to review what few haven’t been released so those transcripts can be redacted and published as well.

While Mr Thompson will remain in the House after the 118th Congress convenes on Tuesday, participation in the select committee probe has exacted a political toll on his colleagues, including Ms Cheney and Illinois Representative Adam Kinzinger, the committee’s only two Republicans. Mr Kinzinger declined to seek re-election last year and Ms Cheney was defeated in a primary by a pro-Trump challenger who will be sworn in to represent her Wyoming at-large district.

Two of the Democrats on the panel, Representatives Stephanie Murphy and Representative Elaine Luria, will also end their Congressional service when the new Congress begins.

But Mr Thompson and Ms Cheney expressed confidence that their roles in the investigation will place them on the right side of history.

“We trust that history will continue to illuminate more details of January 6th and its aftermath,” they said. “We’re grateful to the heroic law enforcement officers who put their lives on the line that day to repel an attack on our democracy. And finally, to all those brave and earnest witnesses who decided to tell the truth: We thank you, and your Nation thanks you”.