Sep 16, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Jan. 6 committee's October surprise

Illustration of the US Capitol casting a shadow on a voting booth.
Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The House Jan. 6 committee is on a potential collision course with the Nov. 8 election.

Why it matters: The committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol plans to hold at least one more hearing late this month and release early findings and recommendations before the election.

  • Despite the panel's long-stated goal of avoiding perceptions of partisanship or politicization, a noisy October could impact the midterms.

Driving the news: The committee will meet virtually Friday to plan the rest of their schedule including upcoming hearings, members told Axios.

  • Unlike 1/6 probes by the Justice Department and the Fulton County, Ga., district attorney, the committee has an expiration date. "We sunset Dec. 31," Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) told reporters this week.

State of play: Members told Axios that while their final report will likely come after the election, plenty of news could be made beforeand that the election is not a big factor in their scheduling.

  • Thompson told Axios the panel does not want to be "perceived as a partisan committee ... we’ve been fairly free of those kind of complaints, and we would not want to interfere with the election."
  • But he said the time between an expected Sept. 28 hearing and the election "won’t be a quiet period." He also said that "the goal is to have … some information pushed out, obviously, before the November election.” The panel may release its interim report in that window.

What they're saying: "There are those partisans of former President Trump that will denounce anything we do, so we're not going to jump through hoops to please people who will call anything we do partisan," said Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) Raskin said the committee has achieved "a good reputation with the American people for sticking to the facts."

  • Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.), who is not seeking reelection, said: “This effort is not political, so I am indifferent to when the election is.”
  • Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) told Axios the committee is "just working at our own pace" and they'll release their final report "when we’re ready."
  • Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.) said: "We can't make our determination based on dates on the calendar, we've got a job to do. ... It's too important to just circle one date to November."

Between the lines: The panel's highly publicized public hearings over the summer dredged up events Republicans would sooner forget, searing them into the public consciousness in a way they hadn’t been since early 2021. New revelations could return concerns to the forefront of voters' minds.

The other side: Democratic National Campaign Committee Chair Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.) downplayed concerns around politicization.

  • "It’s about making sure there’s an accurate historical record of a disgraceful day when our democracy was under attack and holding accountable the people who organized it and took those horrible actions," he said.
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