Congress asks for testimony from Capitol riot defendants who have pleaded guilty

More than 60 of the 600 US Capitol rioters have already pleaded guilty

Bevan Hurley
In New York
Saturday 25 September 2021 14:46
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White House knocks back Trump plan to assert 'executive privilege' to avoid having his role in Capitol riot scrutinised

The 6 January select committee investigating the assault on the US Capitol is requesting defendants who have pleaded guilty to testify before them to gain insight into their motivations for joining the mob.

Rioters are being asked to voluntarily travel to Washington DC to explain how they became involved in the deadly rampage, which led to hundreds breaching the US Capitol and forcing lawmakers to evacuate the House and Senate chambers.

Politico obtained letters sent by the House select committee to the lawyers of several defendants who have already admitted their part in the riot.

“The Select Committee is examining the facts, circumstances, and causes of January 6, 2021, in order to identify and evaluate lessons learned and to recommend corrective law, policies, procedures, rules or regulations,” the letter said.

“As part of that effort, we would like to interview your client, who we understand has accepted responsibility and pleaded guilty.”

The committee has stepped up its investigation into the riots in recent days, issuing subpoenas to four of former President Donald Trump’s closest allies.

Mr Trump has vowed to fight the subpoenas, but the White House said on Friday it would not stand in the way of the committee obtaining his phone records.

Of the more than 600 rioters charged with storming the Capitol as the 2020 election was being certified, around 60 have already pleaded guilty to participating in the riot.

Most of them have pleaded guilty to misdemeanor offenses like trespassing, and are yet to be sentenced. They may qualify for more lenient sentences if they choose to comply with the committee’s request.

On Wednesday, the committee issued subpoenas to former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, former White House Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications Dan Scavino, former Defence Department official Kash Patel and former Trump senior adviser Steve Bannon.

All four men are believed to have been in close contact with Mr Trump both in the lead up to 6 January, and during the riot itself.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Friday that President Joe Biden would not invoke executive privilege on Mr Trump’s phone records.

“The President has already concluded that it would not be appropriate to assert executive privilege and so we will respond promptly to these questions as they arise,” Ms Psaki told a press briefing.

“We have been working closely with congressional committees and others as they work to get to the bottom of what happened on January 6, an incredibly dark day in our democracy.”

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