House committee member describes what has been uncovered a year after Jan. 6
EYDER PERALTA, HOST:
It has been nearly a year since hundreds of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol, seeking to block the certification of the presidential election results and keep the former president in power for another four or maybe more years. The FBI and prosecutors have been pursuing conspiracy charges against many of the rioters, while a special committee of the U.S. House of Representatives is conducting its own investigation.
Joining me now to describe what that investigation has uncovered so far is Representative Zoe Lofgren, Democrat of California. Congresswoman, thank you for joining us.
ZOE LOFGREN: Of course.
PERALTA: You are pretty deep into this investigation. You've heard hundreds of witnesses and looked at the thousands of pages of evidence. What picture has emerged of the January 6 insurrection and the weeks leading up to it after hearing all of this?
LOFGREN: Well, we haven't heard all of it yet, but I will say it's - there was chilling calculation in how to install as president someone who lost the election. That's a grave threat to our system of government, which, after all, is founded on the American people selecting their own government. It's a very stunning and sobering picture that has emerged.
PERALTA: So look; one narrative pushed by many Republican lawmakers is that most Trump supporters wanted to protest peacefully, but a fraction of that crowd just got out of hand. I mean, based on what you know, is that what happened?
LOFGREN: Clearly. I mean, there were some people who showed up at the rally that former President Trump had with, you know, their children. They were not intending to engage in a riot. But for the people who invaded the Capitol, for the most part, it looks like they did exactly what they intended to do.
PERALTA: In November, you said that many of the witnesses that the committee has heard from so far are former Trump officials who came forth willingly. Tell us about them, and what do they think of the insurrection?
LOFGREN: Well, it's a mix. There are - you know, without going into the names at this point, there were people who were concerned by what they saw, who wanted to come in and tell us what they knew, what they had seen, what they had heard. There were others who felt that they had done nothing wrong and wanted to come in. And then as we were able to gain more information, it did give us clues on other places to look. So, as I say, it's a mixed bag.
PERALTA: So the House committee is still seeking testimony and documents from Trump's former chief of staff Mark Meadows and former chief strategist Steve Bannon. Why is their participation so important?
LOFGREN: Well, as to Mark Meadows, he sent over a very large amount of information to the committee before he reversed his stand and refused to cooperate. Many of those documents are very revealing but lead us to having more questions. For example, in one text, there was a reference that there should be a further discussion on Signal, which is an encrypted app. We'd like to know what that consisted of. There are references to communication with state officials in an effort to try and overturn the election. We'd like to know more about that. Mark made a trip to Georgia. You know, we'd like to know a lot more about that.
PERALTA: If you look at polls, they consistently show that Americans are living in vastly different realities. In one survey, for example, most Republicans called the January 6 events a protest, while others called it a riot. Is there a piece of evidence that you think can break through this stunning polarization?
LOFGREN: Well, I think big swaths of the American people who are registered Republican have been lied to by their leaders, starting with the former president but including quite a few members of Congress and other elected people who they trust and respect. That's a disservice to them. So we're trying to think through information that could be delivered in a way through trusted voices that will allow people to see the truth.
PERALTA: But the sort of cynical part in me wonders would any sort of report like this, when it finally emerges, make any difference?
LOFGREN: We'll see. It's my job to do the best I can to get the information presented in a way that's coherent, clear and can be understood by Americans who care about their country. And to say, well, let's just give up - that's not something I'm prepared to do.
PERALTA: Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, Democrat representing San Jose in the Santa Clara Valley in California, thank you so much for joining us.
LOFGREN: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.