Jan. 6 hearings live updates: Thursday will focus on Trump’s pressure on Pence to reject electoral votes
The hearing, which is under way, will focus on what panel Vice Chair Rep. Liz Cheney called a "relentless effort" by former President Donald Trump to pressure former Vice President Mike Pence to refuse to count electoral votes.
"Today we focus on the earnest efforts of Mike Pence, who was determined to abide by his oath of office," Cheney said in her opening remarks.
It's the third of seven hearings expected this month to present evidence from the committee's months-long investigation into the connection between Trump's voter fraud conspiracy claims and the insurrection on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
Before the hearing began, committee leaders said they want to invite Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, to speak to the panel. The Washington Post reported that the committee has evidence of Ginni Thomas communicating with lawyer John Eastman about overturning the 2020 presidential election. The committee says Eastman was central to a pressure campaign against Pence to reject the election results.
Monday's hearing focused on Trump's role in perpetuating the lie that the 2020 election was stolen from him and presented witness testimony and recorded interviews showing that many of the former president's advisers knew the election wasn't stolenand told him so, but he ignored them. Instead, he listened to those in his inner circle who urged him to declare victory on election night and embrace baseless claims of massive voter fraud.
- What to expect: In a short video previewing the hearing, Cheney said Trump "plotted with a lawyer named John Eastman and others to overturn the outcome of the election" though the former president had "no factual basis for what he was doing."
- Who will testify: Greg Jacob, attorney for former Vice President Mike Pence. In a memo sent to Pence a day before the Jan. 6 riot, Jacob wrote that blocking or delaying the certification of electoral votes would be a violation of federal law. Also appearing will be former federal judge Michael Luttig, who provided counsel to Pence in the days before the insurrection; Cheney said Luttig will explain how Eastman — a former law clerk for the conservative judge — "was wrong at every turn."
- Where the proceedings are headed: Committee members appear to be split on whether to leave open the possibility of making a criminal referral against Trump to the DOJ. Even without a criminal referral, the department could indict Trump or anyone else if the facts line up to make a compelling case — and Attorney General Merrick Garland, who says he's watching the hearings, has said repeatedly his department will "follow the facts wherever they lead."