Apr 29, 2022 - Podcasts

Could the January 6 investigation prevent another insurrection?

A host of new details have recently come to light on January 6th and its aftermath, particularly around the actions of former President Trump’s allies.

  • Plus, a vaccine on the horizon for very young kids.
  • And, the power of modeling generosity at work.

Guests: Axios' Jonathan Swan and Jim VandeHei.

Credits: Axios Today is produced by Niala Boodhoo, Sara Kehaulani Goo, Alexandra Botti, Nuria Marquez Martinez, Alex Sugiura, and Lydia McMullen-Laird. Music is composed by Evan Viola. You can reach us at [email protected]. You can text questions, comments and story ideas to Niala as a text or voice memo to 202-918-4893.

Go deeper:


NIALA BOODHOO: Good morning! Welcome to Axios Today!

It’s Friday, April 29th. I’m Niala Boodhoo.

Here’s what you need to know today: a vaccine on the horizon for very young kids. Plus, the power of modeling generosity at work.

But first, could the January 6 investigation actually prevent another insurrection? That’s today’s One Big Thing.

A host of new details have recently come to light on January 6th and its aftermath, particularly around the actions of former president Trump’s allies. Earlier this week CNN obtained thousands of text messages from former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows, from the period between Election day 2020 and Biden’s inauguration, confirming Meadows’ deep involvement in efforts to overturn the election. And the New York Times this week published audio from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy - where we heard his private worries that his colleagues were inciting violence.

Axios’ Jonathan Swan says this is a good time to step back for the big picture, and what the results of the House committee investigation intro January 6 could mean for the future…he’s here with that now. Hi Jonathan.

JONATHAN SWAN: Hey Niala, how are you?

NIALA: So Jonathan first, where are we at in this whole process? It feels like more than a year in, we're certainly learning a lot more about what actually transpired.

JONATHAN: Yeah. The January 6th committee is close to the end of the line with their interviews. They've spoken to a number of very senior Trump White House officials, Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, the White House - former White House counsel, Pat Cipollone. And you know, there's reports that they'll be talking to Rudy Giuliani at some point. So basically they’re getting everything they want with a very small number of exceptions.

What we know is that Donald Trump and his close allies tried every single possible tool to overturn the election. And so the questions that the committee is trying to figure out is the extent to which President Trump or any people working for him or close to him were aware of or involved in incitement of the attack on the Capitol.

NIALA: Is there any concern in Washington that given what you've said, that the scope of the January 6th committee is almost too narrow or missing the point if they're just focusing on whether or not the president tried to incite something that day?

JONATHAN: Well, it's narrow by design. But what your question implicitly raises is I think one of the most interesting questions that we don't know the answer to, which is what's going to be the result of all of this? What we do know is they're producing a report. They're going to hold public hearings which are going to be sort of made for television. And then there's a question of what are their recommendations? What are they, what laws are they going to try and get changed?

And this is where I think they're going to really struggle because they're under a massive amount of time pressure. There's a limited number of days in the Senate calendar. There's every likelihood that power will change at the end of November. And so if they seriously want to change laws and not just write a historical document, they've got to get their act together. And it's actually going to be very difficult for even the people on the committee to agree on what that looks like, because you've got Democrats on the committee who want to look at voting rights and voting laws and other things that might, in their view, strengthen the democracy.

And then you've got someone like Liz Cheney. She's actually much more where the Republicans are on, you know, quote unquote “voter integrity.” So I think that question of what are they going to actually recommend as a committee? That's a really hard question to answer.

NIALA: When you were saying that the committee wants to hold public hearings, what I immediately was thinking about is are we going to learn something different that we learned during the impeachment?

JONATHAN: There's certainly, there'll be information that, that isn't out yet. If what people want to see is, you know, Donald Trump held a clandestine meeting in the White House residence with the head of the Proud Boys. You're going to probably be pretty disappointed if that's your vision of, you know, what happened here. But will it have some grand effect on our nation's politics? I don't know. Hard to see.

And it will be hard at the end of the year for people after, you know, in the aftermath of all of this, for people to feel confident that the 2024 election will be decided in a peaceful and straightforward way.

NIALA: So you don't have confidence that we won't see this again?

JONATHAN: I have some confidence that they’ll secure the capital better than they did last time. But do I have confidence that they will prevent, let's say candidate Trump from actually much more effectively organizing an effort to overturn an election that he lost? No, I don't have confidence in that at all. I've seen nothing that would give me confidence to say that.

NIALA: Axios’ Jonathan Swan. Thanks Jonathan.

JONATHAN: Thank you.

NIALA: In a moment, Jim VandeHei on why generosity is important at work.

[ad break]

NIALA: Welcome back to Axios Today! I’m Niala Boodhoo.

It's easy to look away when we encounter people in need in this world, but Axios CEO Jim VandeHei says it's important to fight that impulse, especially at WORK, during challenging times like these. Jim joins us occasionally to talk about leadership lessons - which he writes about in the Finish Line newsletter on Thursdays. He's back with me now to share some of his thoughts on generosity and leadership. Jim, welcome back to Axios Today!.

JIM VANDEHEI: Always great to be here.

NIALA: So, first of all, what does generosity look like in a workplace to you?

JIM: I think it looks like helping people when they need help. And that doesn't mean every time somebody needs help, but I think there's things that we can do individually, things that we can do as a business when things do go bad in someone's life. Like what you can do in leadership is model the behavior you want people to practice, right? People come here and they spend, you know, 60, 70% of their waking hours working for you and if we're transparent, if we're good when things are bad or things are tough, those people are more likely to do the same. The flip is true too, like people mimic really bad behavior just as quick as they mimic really good behavior. These things are contagious.

NIALA: One thing I found really interesting in what you wrote is the idea that introverts view generosity differently because there might be an inclination to think “I need to mind my own business.”

JIM: Yeah, like my instinct in, in like family disputes or if I - you know, unless something is egregious, obviously you'll have a natural impulse to react and help somebody but most of them are more in a gray area. And my impulse, my natural instinct is going to be to like, whatever someone else is going to solve that or that person's going to solve it. Is it really my job to intervene here?

And sometimes I have to really be self-conscious about throwing myself into it. I might be totally oblivious to it. Not because I'm a bad person, but just because that's how my mind works. Like I spend so much time inwardly thinking about things that we have to solve as a company that I can miss things that more intuitive or more aware people who are sort of seeking out those opportunities might find. And I think so if you are somebody like me, I try to be, I try to force myself to be more aware and I try to put mechanisms in place to help me to be more aware so that I can be more helpful.

NIALA: Jim VandeHei is Axios’ CEO and co-founder and author of one of the Finish Line newsletters. Thanks, Jim.

JIM: Thank you.

NIALA: Here are a few more headlines we’re watching -

Yesterday Moderna filed a FDA request emergency authorization of its COVID-19 vaccine in children between 6 months and 6 years old. Moderna says efficacy was 43.7% for kids from 6 months to 2 years old and 37.5% in kids 2 to 6.

In other health news - the FDA proposed a new rule Thursday that would ban menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier (HA-vee-err) Becerra said the proposed rules would help keep kids from smoking and help adult smokers quit. The CDC says teenagers and Black Americans are the most likely to smoke menthol cigarettes.

Finally, - for the first time since the start of Russia’s war against Ukraine, Ukrainian prosecutors have filed criminal charges against 10 Russian soldiers accused of war crimes in Bucha. Ukraine has said more than 300 people were found dead after Russian forces withdrew from the city at the end of March. This came as President Biden requested an additional $33 billion for humanitarian and military aid to Ukraine.

And that’s all for us this week –

Axios Today this week was produced by Nuria Marquez Martinez and Lydia McMullen-Laird. Our sound engineers are Alex Sugiura and Ben O’Brien. Alexandra Botti is our Senior Producer. Sara Kehaulani Goo is Axios’ Editor In Chief. And special thanks as always to Axios co-founder Mike Allen.

I’m Niala Boodhoo - thanks for listening - stay safe and we’ll see you back here on Monday.

Go deeper