Jan. 6 panel hearings preview: Monday on Trump’s ‘Big Lie,’ Adam Kinzinger in spotlight on Wednesday
Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., said Sunday the Wednesday hearing will focus on how Trump tried “to install his own people in Justice to do his bidding.”
WASHINGTON — Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., a member of the Jan. 6 committee probing ex-President Donald Trump’s role in the Capitol attack and the run-up to it, will play a key role in the Wednesday hearing while the Monday session will focus on Trump’s “Big Lie.”
The next sessions in a series of hearings start at 9 a.m. Chicago time on Monday and Wednesday, when Kinzinger will be in the spotlight.
“I’m actually leading a hearing specifically talking about the Justice Department moves,” Kinzinger said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” He told host John Dickerson he will “delve” into what Trump did as he pressured the Justice Department to falsely declare widespread election fraud.
Trump tried “to install his own people in Justice to do his bidding,” Kinzinger said on the program.
Panel vice-chair Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wy., with Kinzinger the only Republicans on the committee, previewed the Wednesday session when she said at the Thursday kick-off hearing: “In our third hearing, you will see that President Trump corruptly planned to replace the Attorney General of the United States so the U.S. Justice Department would spread his false stolen election claims.”
Cheney said on Thursday that “multiple” Republican congressmen sought “presidential pardons for their roles in attempting to overturn the 2020 election.”
Kinzinger said “we’re going to talk a little about that in my hearing,” and if someone sought a pardon from Trump, it may be “they have real concerns that maybe they’ve done something illegal,” adding “more information will be coming.”
The Monday hearing will put on the public record testimony and evidence on how Trump was told by advisers he lost the election yet launched a massive disinformation campaign to convince millions of people that widespread fraud stole Trump’s victory and handed it to Joe Biden.
A committee aide said at a Sunday briefing, Monday’s session is “focused on the Big Lie, the decision by the former president to ignore the will of the voters, declare victory of an election that he had lost, spread claims of fraud and then decide to ignore the ruling of the courts.”
The witnesses Monday will include:
• William Stepien, Trump’s last campaign manager, the likely headliner since his live testimony will reflect conversations with Trump.
• Byung J. Pak, the former U.S. attorney in Atlanta who quit after being pressured to announce widespread voter fraud was found in Georgia.
• Chris Stirewalt, the ex-Fox News political editor fired after Trump was angered Fox called Arizona for President Joe Biden on election night.
• As in the Thursday kick-off hearing, other witnesses deposed earlier may appear via clips, either videotaped or recorded.
The panel’s first hearing, Thursday night, was an overview of how Trump tried to overturn the election results and, when that failed, his role in the events leading to the Capitol attack, where a mob tried to prevent Congress from finalizing Biden’s election.
The committee investigation and hearings are putting together the case that Trump’s inner circle knew there was no evidence to back Trump’s claims of widespread election fraud but carried on a fight to overturn the election results nonetheless.
Kinzinger, who represents the 16th District just south of Chicago and lives in Channahon, also said:
• Trump is flirting with a 2024 comeback bid and, if elected again, “there is no doubt in my mind, zero doubt,” he will screen people to install loyalists to him.
“I think the thing that’s most concerning to me is, nothing has changed. The only thing that has changed since January 6 is, now if they want to run that play again, they’re going to put more loyal people into the administration earlier on.”
“What matters, and the bottom line, is that we as a country recognize even when we’re on the receiving end of policy, even when we don’t get our way, if we follow through our oath, that basic compact of self-governance will work — otherwise, it won’t.”
“I don’t really know many people around him that truly believe the election was stolen and told him so,” Kinzinger said. Trump “was surrounded by yes people” who told him “everything that pleases him.”
If Trump really believed the election was stolen, “he’s not mentally capable to be president. I think he didn’t believe it. I think the people around him didn’t believe it. This was all about keeping power against the will of the American people.”
Asked what evidence the committee had to prove what Trump really believed — and if he said things in private that he did not say in public, Kinzinger replied: “I don’t want to go into evidence we haven’t put out yet.”
The Jan. 6 committee aide also said Sunday Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., on Monday will play a key role along with the chair, Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-MS., and vice-chair Cheney.