House January 6th panel still has 'essential' work and not much time left to do it: law professor

House January 6th panel still has 'essential' work and not much time left to do it: law professor
Image via Creative Commons.

Thursday, October 13 marks the January 6 select committee’s first hearing after a hiatus of almost three months. With the 2022 midterm elections less than a month away and Republicans feeling confident that they will retake the U.S. House of Representatives, the committee realizes that its days are likely numbered.

In an article published by the conservative website The Bulwark on October 13, law professor and Never Trumper Kimberly Wehle stresses that the committee still has some important work to do — and probably not a lot of time left to do it.

“If the House of Representatives shifts to Republican control, a change that requires a net of only five seats to flip from blue to red, the congressional probe into the attack on the U.S. Capitol and all that led up to it will cease,” Wehle explains. “Reminding the American people of what happened on January 6 — and what remains to be investigated and revealed regarding GOP leaders’ role in the attempt to overturn the democratic election of a U.S. president — could be essential to the outcome of the midterms and thus, the vitality of the rule of law itself.”

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Wehle, who teaches law at the University of Baltimore, points out that “it’s not out of the question that the committee might yet add more hearings to its schedule.” But time, she says, is of the essence, as the committee will not exist in 2023 if Republicans flip the U.S. House of Representatives and Rep. Kevin McCarthy is chosen as House speaker.

“Liz Cheney announced, in September at the Texas Tribune Festival, that the committee has received nearly 800,000 pages of communication materials from the Secret Service, notwithstanding its scandalous deletion of phone records following the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general demand for them immediately after January 6,” Wehle notes. “The information could corroborate White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson’s stunning testimony that former Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations Tony Ornato told her (former President Donald) Trump had a physical confrontation with his Secret Service detail in the president’s vehicle on January 6.”

The law professor continues, “Denver Riggleman, a former GOP lawmaker who formerly served on the committee’s staff, also told CBS’ ‘60 Minutes’ that the White House switchboard connected to the phone of a rioter on January 6. According to Raskin, the committee is aware of the call. But Trump’s ties to the far-right extremists who invaded the Capitol that day — including the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers — remain unclear to the public. It’s known that Trump pals Roger Stone and Michael Flynn were in close contact with some of them.”

Wehle finds it “troubling” that so far, the January 6 committee has failed to “publicly investigate the role(s) of numerous sitting members of Congress, including those who reportedly asked Trump for blanket pardons in connection with their actions both before and after January 6 — reportedly, Reps. Mo Brooks, Matt Gaetz, Andy Biggs, Louie Gohmert and Scott Perry.”

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“According to an analysis by FiveThirtyEight, 60 percent of Americans who vote in November will have at least one election denier on the ballot,” Wehle warns. “Of the 552 Republicans running for office, 201 fully deny the legitimacy of the 2020 election. In the House of Representatives, 118 election-denier candidates ‘have at least a 95 percent chance of winning.’ If the committee is serious about saving democracy from a successful re-do of January 6, perhaps it should use its precious remaining weeks of life to turn its focus on colleagues in the Republican Party who appear to be hellbent on destroying democracy, regardless of what Trump does in 2024.

READ MORE: 'Thousands of exhibits': House Select Committee sheds light on materials received from the Secret Service

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