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The Jan 6. committee's final report details criminal referrals against Trump

JUANA SUMMERS, HOST:

What can we glean from 18 months of investigation, more than a thousand witness interviews and scores more documents about what led up to last year's attack on the Capitol? Well, it's all laid out across more than 800 pages in the final report now out from the House select January 6 committee. It details the panel's criminal referrals against former President Donald Trump as well as a path forward for the panel's findings. Here's Chairman Bennie Thompson earlier this week talking about this undertaking.

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BENNIE THOMPSON: I'm grateful to the millions of you who followed this committee's work. I hope we lived up to our commitment to present the facts and let the facts speak for themselves.

SUMMERS: Let's dig into the highlights of those facts with NPR congressional correspondent Claudia Grisales. Hi, Claudia.

CLAUDIA GRISALES, BYLINE: Hey, Juana.

SUMMERS: So, Claudia, just walk us through some of this report's major findings.

GRISALES: Right. It focuses largely on former President Trump and his premeditated role in the January 6 attack and goes further into his criminal referrals from the committee. The report is eight chapters long, covering false claims of a stolen election, the fake-elector scheme and, quote, "187 minutes of dereliction," referencing Trump's inaction during the siege. One chapter is titled after a federal judge's description of Trump's post-2020 election efforts, calling it a, quote, "coup in search of a legal theory" and captures desperate attempts to overturn the presidential result - so just trying to force then-Vice President Mike Pence to illegally reverse President Biden's win in a ceremonial counting of the votes.

SUMMERS: OK. So a lot of focus there on former President Trump. Has he responded to all of this?

GRISALES: Yes. He's posted multiple times on his social media site, Truth Social. This includes several attacks on the panel, Democrats and law enforcement agencies soon after the report was released late last night. Trump responded by attacking House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and reiterating his claims this probe was a witch hunt. Later today, he doubled down on his false claims that the election was stolen.

SUMMERS: What does this report say about extremist groups and their role in the January 6 attack?

GRISALES: It documents in detail how these groups, such as the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers, helped fuel the organized nature of the attack. It also delves into the links between these groups and Trump allies and how Trump himself inspired them to come to the nation's Capitol. For example, the far right extremist group, the Proud Boys, saw Trump as a, quote, "savior" that reignited their mission in 2020.

SUMMERS: Another area of inquiry is law enforcement and intelligence failures. What does the report say about that?

GRISALES: It reiterates other findings that there were significant failures here. For example, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Mark Milley, said the probability for violence was clear before January 6, and he expected, quote, "street fights when the sun went down."

SUMMERS: So what role does the American public play when it comes to all of these findings?

GRISALES: The panel says while the danger to the Capitol by an armed and angry crowd was foreseeable, the fact that a president would be the catalyst was unprecedented. The report says, quote, "if we lack the imagination that a president would incite an attack on his own government," it goes on to say, "we lack that insight no more." And it says the best defense against that danger in the future will not come from law enforcement, but rather an informed and active citizenry.

SUMMERS: And, Claudia, I understand this report makes some recommendations. Can you tell us a bit about this?

GRISALES: Right. The first major recommendation is reforms to the Electoral Count Act. This solidifies the vice president's role as ceremonial in the counting of presidential election votes. And it was part of a major spending bill that was sent to President Biden's desk today. The panel has also said that committees of jurisdiction can create a formal mechanism to evaluate whether to bar those who took part in the attack from holding future office again. And it goes a step further to say that Trump, specifically, should be barred from holding public office again as well.

SUMMERS: But House Republicans are taking over Congress next year. What happens to recommendations that would require a new legislative fix?

GRISALES: That's all expected to go on ice when it comes to legislative fixes. Instead, House Republicans have already said they want to turn the tables on the panel and investigate the investigators.

SUMMERS: Now, you have been following this panel, really, since the beginning. So I want to end by asking you, what legacy does the January 6 committee leave behind?

GRISALES: Yes. It's impressive in terms of the scale and scope this panel was able to accomplish in this tight window for this investigation. And without much of a partisan divide here, the panel could tell this story without public infighting interrupting the narrative. And I think they took control of a new historical record here. But in large part, I think perhaps the story of this panel's legacy is not done yet, and it could inspire congressional probes in the future.

SUMMERS: NPR's Claudia Grisales, thank you.

GRISALES: Thank you much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Claudia Grisales is a congressional reporter assigned to NPR's Washington Desk.
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