Former president’s ‘dereliction of duty’ to be revealed in prime-time hearing

The January 6 committee also issued an extraordinary subpoena last week to the Secret Service to produce texts by Tuesday from January 5 and January 6, 2021, following conflicting reports about whether they were deleted.

But panel members say Thursday’s hearing will be the most specific to date in laying out and weaving together previously known details on how Trump’s actions were at odds with his constitutional legal duty to stop the January 6 riot.

Unlike members of the public who generally have no duty to act to prevent a crime, the Constitution requires a president to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”

“The commander in chief is the only person in the Constitution whose duty is explicitly laid out to ensure that the laws are faithfully executed,” Luria said. “I look at it as a dereliction of duty. (Trump) didn’t act. He had a duty to act.”

Luria said the hearing will highlight additional testimony from White House counsel Pat Cipollone and other witnesses, not yet seen before, “who will add a lot of value and information to the events of that critical time on January 6.”

She cited Trump’s inaction that day for more than three hours, along with a tweet that afternoon criticising Vice President Mike Pence for lacking the courage to contest Democrat Joe Biden’s win in the 2020 presidential election that may have served to egg on the mob.

“We will go through pretty much minute by minute during that time frame, from the time he left the stage at the Ellipse, came back to the White House, and really sat in the White House, in the dining room, with his advisers urging him continuously to take action, to take more action,” Luria said.

The hearing comes at a critical juncture point for the panel, which is racing to wrap up findings for a final report this fall. The committee had originally expected at this point to be concluding much of its investigation with a final hearing but is now considering possible options for additional interviews and hearings, panel members said.

“This investigation is very much ongoing,” said Republican Zoe Lofgren. “The fact that a series of hearings is going to be concluded this Thursday doesn’t mean that our investigation is over. It’s very active, new witnesses are coming forward, additional information is coming forward.”

For instance, the committee took a rare step last week in issuing a subpoena to the Secret Service, an executive branch department. That came after it received a closed briefing from the Homeland Security Department watchdog that the Secret Service had deleted texts from around Jan. 6, according to two people familiar with the matter.

The finding raised the startling prospect of lost evidence that could shed further light on Trump’s actions during the insurrection, particularly after earlier testimony about his confrontation with security as he tried to join supporters at the Capitol.

“That’s what we have to get to the bottom of,” said Luria, regarding possibly missing texts. “Where are these text messages? Can they be recovered? And we have subpoenaed them because they’re legal records that we need to see for the committee.”

AP

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