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Jan. 6 committee recesses until September after primetime spectacle

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

The House committee investigating January 6 has recessed until September, but their session this week presented the portrait of a President Donald Trump, intent on overturning lawful election results, watch for hours while a mob of his supporters attacked the U.S. Capitol and who also spurned appeals by his staff and family to try to stop the insurrection.

Representative Jamie Raskin, Democrat of Maryland, is on the committee and joins us. Mr. Raskin, thanks for being with us.

JAMIE RASKIN: Good morning, Scott. Delighted to be with you.

SIMON: Will more witnesses come forward over the next few weeks?

RASKIN: Undoubtedly. We've been hearing from lots of new people. They watch what's happening on TV, and then they realize they've got something relevant to tell us, or they have a change of heart and decide that they want to come forward.

SIMON: You want to tell us who they are?

RASKIN: No, I can't do that.

SIMON: I was just trying.

RASKIN: I mean, the negotiations with each of these people are delicate. And, you know, we can't expose them in advance. But there's clearly more to be found out. I think the critical point, though, is that there is overwhelming and unrefuted evidence that Donald Trump set about to overturn the 2020 presidential election. And when he failed to make that happen in the state legislatures or with state election officials, like Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in Georgia, and failed within his own Department of Justice to stage a mini coup there, then it all came down to January 6 and placing that pressure on his own vice president to step outside of his constitutional role and declare and exercise unilateral, lawless powers to reject Electoral College votes so that Trump could stay in office. And the mob was used as an instrument of Trump's will to put that pressure on Pence and to interrupt the counting of electoral votes.

SIMON: Mr. Raskin, you've been openly skeptical about the Secret Service, saying they can't find all but a few of the text messages from their agents who were involved on January 6. They said a lot of messages were lost in a routine data migration. Do you accept that?

RASKIN: You know, I'm in a trust-but-verify mode on this. And I do smell a bit of a rat. I mean, I think it's odd that all of the text messages for January 6 and January 5 were mysteriously disappeared just in that timeframe and also just a few weeks after they were being sought and after these events took place. So we'll get to the bottom of it. There are - you know, there are just too many people who know things. And, you know, every time someone thinks that they're clever and they're going to be able to pull the wool over everybody's eyes or concoct a phony story, it gets exposed. So I've got no doubt that the truth will be known.

SIMON: I want to ask you the question from another direction there. Should the Secret Service, which protects the President at the risk of their own lives, be put in the position to give testimony about that president's behavior in the White House or his car?

RASKIN: Well, it's precisely because they're risking their own lives and it's precisely because they're protecting the republic that we need to get the truth about everything affecting their fortune. I mean, you know, one of the remarkable things about the last hearing was that it turned out that the Secret Service men, themselves, in service of Vice President Pence were calling their families to tell them goodbye and to say farewell. So, you know, the members of the Secret Service, like everybody else, has an interest in the rule of law and have an interest in seeing that constitutional norms are observed.

SIMON: Do you have - do you keep an eye - you and the rest of the committee - on the midterm elections? If Republicans win a majority, they have been pretty clear about saying they would put your committee out of business.

RASKIN: Well, I mean, our committee is out of business anyway because we're not a standing committee of the House. We're a select committee. And, you know, we end with the Congress. So, look, I know there are people measuring the drapes from the other side who say they're going to put our committee out of business or turn it to investigate the investigators or what have you. And we're just not going to be intimidated by any of that, and we're not going to be deterred. House Resolution 503 compels us to give the truth to the people about what happened on January 6 and what we need to do to prevent coups and insurrections, political violence and electoral sabotage in the future.

SIMON: I've left just enough question for - enough time for a yes or no answer. Do you believe the Justice Department, based on what you've learned, should indict former President Trump?

RASKIN: They should just do their jobs.

SIMON: Congressman Jamie Raskin of Maryland, thanks so much for being with us.

RASKIN: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.
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