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The Jan. 6 panel is back to present evidence in what may be its final hearing

January 6th
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The Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol holds its ninth, and likely last investigative hearing this week.

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

Today may be the final hearing from the House committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol.

A MARTINEZ, HOST:

Yeah, the committee plans to share new evidence and new testimony that sums up its case for the nation, a case that places blame for the attack squarely on former President Trump.

FADEL: NPR congressional correspondent Deirdre Walsh joins us now with a preview of today's hearing. Good morning, Deirdre.

DEIRDRE WALSH, BYLINE: Good morning, Leila.

FADEL: OK, so the committee is promising new evidence. Any hint of what that could be?

WALSH: Well, aides to the panel stressed that there would be new information. We know we're not going to hear from live witnesses today.

FADEL: OK.

WALSH: But the panel is going to show some taped testimony from witnesses who haven't been featured in any of the eight public hearings this year. They haven't named names, but we know the panel has been meeting with witnesses in closed-door depositions and getting a lot more documents over the last few weeks. Last month, they met with Ginni Thomas. She's a Republican activist who is also the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. She was communicating with John Eastman, one of former President Trump's outside legal advisers who was pushing this plan to overturn the 2020 election results. We could hear today some detail about what she told the committee in her hourslong testimony.

Another area where we expect to see some new information today is related to what members of the Secret Service saw and heard on January 6. The panel has got hundreds of thousands of pages of evidence over the summer after sending the agency a subpoena in July. Remember, there was very dramatic testimony this summer about an angry Trump lunging for a member of his detail after agents refused his demand to be driven to the Capitol the morning of January 6, as his supporters were prepping to march there from a rally near the White House.

FADEL: Now, this obviously centers around the former president, but the panel never actually interviewed the former president. Should we expect to hear more about Trump and his role?

WALSH: Well, the committee is saying there's going to be a focus today on the former president's state of mind. But as you noted, they haven't talked to him directly. We're likely to hear more from testimony from senior White House aides who have cooperated with the committee. Here's what committee member Zoe Lofgren of California told CNN earlier this week about what they would flesh out.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ZOE LOFGREN: What the president's intentions were, what he knew, what he did.

WALSH: Another person that the panel hasn't talked to is former Vice President Mike Pence. He did signal at one point he might be willing to appear, but members of the committee now admit those close to Pence pushed back on that, so they don't have any new firsthand information from him.

FADEL: Now, the last few hearings have focused on kind of specific themes - right? - the pressure on Vice President Pence...

WALSH: Right.

FADEL: ...The efforts to install supporters at the Justice Department. Is there a theme today?

WALSH: Today is really expected to be more of a step back, according to aides. We're going to hear from the chair, Bennie Thompson, the ranking member, Liz Cheney, but also the seven other committee members are all going to present evidence of the whole timeline of the events leading up to the attack on that day and after. We're going to see a synthesis of some of the evidence that's already presented in prior hearings. They're not calling this their closing argument, but this panel expires at the end of the year, so they realize there isn't really a lot more time to show what they've learned in their investigation. This is really basically their last chance to make their case about the former president's central role in inciting the riot at the Capitol. One other thing they want to do is emphasize the ongoing threats to democracy.

FADEL: Now, very quickly, now what, after all this investigations, all these hearings?

WALSH: Right. Well, the committee is writing up a report that's going to be out by the end of the year. But really, the action has already shifted from Capitol Hill to the Justice Department in the last few months. We've learned more about what they're learning in their investigation, and we're awaiting information about any new charges they could possibly bring against the former president or those close to him.

FADEL: NPR's Deirdre Walsh - thanks, Deirdre.

WALSH: Thanks, Leila. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Leila Fadel is a national correspondent for NPR based in Los Angeles, covering issues of culture, diversity, and race.
Deirdre Walsh is the congress editor for NPR's Washington Desk.