Rep. Jamie Raskin discusses the 7th Jan. 6 hearing, held yesterday
JUANA SUMMERS, HOST:
The House committee investigating the January 6 insurrection has now held seven public hearings. Yesterday's hearing took the panel and the public inside the Oval Office, as then-President Trump's allies and his legal team battled over the baseless claims of a stolen election hours before Trump sent an overnight tweet calling supporters to Washington. Be there, the tweet said - will be wild.
Democratic Congressman Jamie Raskin is a member of the House committee that's investigating January 6. And he took a leading role in yesterday's hearing. He joins us now. Welcome, Congressman Raskin.
JAMIE RASKIN: Delighted to be with you guys.
SUMMERS: Congressman, the testimony we heard yesterday included testimony from Stephen Ayres, who is one of the members of the pro-Trump group that breached the Capitol on January 6.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
STEPHEN AYRES: You know, the president, you know, got everybody riled up, told everybody to head on down. So we basically - we were just following what he said.
SUMMERS: Based on what you have heard, what your committee has learned, do you believe there is enough evidence to confirm that former President Trump was essentially giving his supporters direct orders to march toward and breach the Capitol?
RASKIN: I certainly think there's enough evidence for citizens to come to that conclusion. You know, the president was the one who sent out the tweet that electrified and galvanized dangerous extremists in the country. If you're asking me the legal question - do prosecutors have sufficient evidence to bring a case; do they think they could sustain a proof beyond a reasonable doubt? - that's a judgment for the Department of Justice. And I know everybody wants us to answer that question, but I really don't want to step on their toes. I mean, we have a separation of powers, and it's not up to Congress to decide that.
SUMMERS: During one part of the hearing, we saw a sort of video montage of people who were in the room for this, by all accounts, explosive Oval Office meeting on the evening of December 18. As you build a case for the American people against the former president, what is the significance of what happened in that meeting?
RASKIN: Prior to December 18, every attempt that Donald Trump had made to overthrow Joe Biden's Electoral College majority had failed. Now, in desperation, Sidney Powell, Rudy Giuliani, the Overstock guy, all showed up at the White House with a new plan. And now the plan was to get Donald Trump to sign an executive order appointing a new special counsel, Sidney Powell, and seizing the states' election machines across the country. But essentially, this whole maneuver was thwarted by the White House staff. And that was the moment, in the middle of the night, that Donald Trump decided to summon the crowd.
SUMMERS: And Congressman, I want to ask you about that because we also heard yesterday from an employee of Twitter who talked about the company's response to Trump's use of that platform to rally his base, to call them to Washington in the days leading up to the insurrection at the Capitol. And this was a witness that was anonymous. I'd like to ask you why and if there was anything that this employee said that could precipitate legal action against either Twitter or that employee themselves?
RASKIN: Well, this employee was doing everything in his or her power to try to blow the whistle about this deluge of pro-violent tweets. And the employee was terrified about what they saw coming. And yet the Twitter employee testified that they were ignored and that there was no effort to try to either rein in these tweets or to alert various police authorities about the scale and the magnitude of the emergency that the employee saw coming.
SUMMERS: Let's talk about that next hearing. It will be the committee's eighth. It will be during primetime. And as members of the committee have told us, it will be focused on what the former president did and did not do on January 6 as the Capitol was under attack. What more could we learn?
RASKIN: So we're trying to tell the human and social and political and moral meaning of having a violent insurrection and an attempted coup in America. But the truth is, none of us, including the members of the committee, have seen what Donald Trump was doing during that time. So we didn't see his actions. We didn't see his inactions. So we want to try to reconstruct what was happening, and why did it seem to be such a delayed and lethargic response to this military and national security and political emergency in the heart of the nation's capital?
SUMMERS: Democratic Congressman Jamie Raskin of Maryland, thank you so much for being here.
RASKIN: The pleasure is all mine. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.