Jan. 6 Committee staffers prepare for all-out Republican attack – Rolling Stone

members and staff of the January 6th committee are actively preparing for a multi-pronged Republican vendetta when the GOP takes over the House next month and anticipate a full-scale effort to discredit the body’s work and punish its workers, current and former staffers say as well as other sources who have been briefed on the situation.

As the committee prepares its final report, staffers are also preparing to look into their investigation, including subpoenas to gain access to their private communications, emails and other documents dating back a year and a half, the sources said.

“I was told [months ago] by a manager to be meticulous about avoiding writing or emailing anything that could one day be used against the committee and our important work,” says a former investigator. “Nothing to be taken out of context and nothing to hold up as some sort of ‘smoking gun’ for the Jim Jordans and [Marjorie Taylor Greene’s] of Congress.”

In anticipation of GOP attacks, some current and former employees have asked their managers whether they should pre-emptively hire attorneys, or at least scout for potential attorneys. Earlier this year, several members of the committee were recommended that they take out professional liability insurance in anticipation of an upcoming GOP counter-inquiry, according to two sources familiar with the committee’s work. Both sources say they bought it. At the request of Rolling Stone As for why they decided to get the insurance earlier this year, one of them simply said, “Because I’m not an idiot.”

Republicans have been open about their plans to go after the body. According to a source with direct knowledge of the matter, Donald Trump spoke to House Republican allies earlier this year about possible plans to rip through the committee’s Jan. 6 undisclosed records and communications to uncover dirt or unflattering details. According to the source, Trump even privately suggested possible avenues of investigation, including investigating whether committee members leaked details to the press or disclosed embarrassing material about the former president and his supporters. And hopeful House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has publicly hinted at plans to probe investigators as part of the party’s ongoing effort to protect Donald Trump from the January 6 fallout. In a November 30 letter, McCarthy asked the committee to preserve his extensive records.

The committee was already obligated 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 one irony discussed among certain staffers is that the “bad faith arguments being used by Trump and his allies, including members of the Republican House of Representatives, to obstructing the Special Committee’s investigation, they could reappear if used by targets of the incoming majority’s investigation.”

Still, it’s unclear what exactly House Republicans can get their hands on if — and more likely when — the party begins to turn the Jan. 6 committee’s operations upside down.

“The question is not what can be subpoenaed, but what the House Rules require the committee to turn over to its successor committee or the National Archives,” said Michael Stern, attorney and former senior counsel of the House of Representatives. “It gets murkier when you’re talking about informal work products like notes and the like… If the incoming majority thinks there are things that should have been handed over that haven’t been handed over, or they just want access to certain information, they might create problems subpoenas or take other steps to gain access to records held by individual members and employees. His options will depend in part on whether the individuals concerned are still members or staff of the House at the next Congress.”

The threat of attacks is adding pressure at an already tense time for the House Committee. The panel’s final stretch was rocked by internal divisions, according to current and former employees and other sources aware of the situation.

There have been leaks, “angry” resignations, internal paranoia, finger pointing and, most importantly, acrimonious arguments over what to include in the final report, the sources say. Broadly speaking, there have been disagreements between the committee staff who worked on the investigation and members of Congress who serve as the panel’s management. “The remaining employees seem to trust and like each other enough to carry out tasks efficiently. But distrust between management and employees, unsurprisingly resulting from numerous leaks and appallingly poor management over the past 18 months, has shattered any remaining goodwill,” said one employee, who spoke on condition of anonymity Rolling Stone.

“Not so long ago, employees were happy to work 80-hour weeks and take on seemingly unsolvable tasks because the effort was worth it, damn it management,” says the committee worker. “It’s hard to get people to give a shit when the higher ups — management and some members — have routinely given a shit on the people who are actually doing the investigations, either by actually being assholes or just by mismanaging this thing from top to bottom.”

The climate of distrust between members and staff abated after a November story The Washington Post, where 15 staffers claimed they felt that the committee’s vice chair, Rep. Liz Cheney, ignored or attempted to remove key findings about the riot that did not directly concern former President Trump. Several knowledgeable sources confirm this Rolling Stone that a number of current and former January 6 staffers believe that while the committee has cracked down on Trump, its trailblazers in the GOP elite have all too often gotten off easy, and that it has ignored other conservative drivers behind the “election fraud.” Conspiracy theories that led to the attack on the Capitol.

Sources familiar with the matter also say so Rolling Stone that ahead of the scheduled release of the final report this month, several staffers left through “angry” resignations, complaining to their colleagues and other aides on Capitol Hill about missed opportunities and the perceived personal agendas of committee members.

Some staffers have also begun to express regret over what they see as fundamental missteps by committee members who failed to more aggressively prosecute some witnesses, including Fox News host Sean Hannity. However, according to people familiar with the matter, Hannity was largely left alone by the committee — and was not issued a subpoena — partly due to concerns and potential backlash over his First Amendment protections as a pro-Trump journalist .

The committee first wrote to Hannity asking for a voluntary interview with the Fox News anchor. Hannity’s testimony was necessary, they wrote, because he “had prior knowledge of the Jan. 6 planning by President Trump and his legal team” and “had provided it.”[ed] Advice” to Trump and his aides on efforts to overturn the election.

Cheney and committee chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson appeared wary of pursuing Hannity more vigorously with a subpoena. In their first letter, investigators attempted to frame their inquiries as unrelated to Hannity’s journalistic work, forbidding questions about “your broadcasts or your political views or comments.”

But some employees now see this cautious approach as a mistake. “[The committee] let him off the hook, but that was the case with many members of the Republican Party who should have responded 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 the de facto arm of the campaign after the election, offering advice on issues such as “guiding legal strategies against Biden.”


The difficult final stretch follows a hugely successful summer and fall for the panel, during which it received praise and high ratings with a series of hearings that included shocking revelations about Trump’s clashes with the Secret Service, forewarning about armed Trump supporters and Trump’s comments on them Vice President Mike Pence “deservedly” contained the threats from MAGA fans.

Republicans will take over the House of Representatives on January 3, 2023 at noon.

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