The Most Damning Facts in the J6 Report

The full J6 report was released about 10 pm EST last night, which caused a whole lot of people in newsrooms and elsewhere to be up all night analyzing the thing. (You can read it yourself, here.) And this morning there are a lot of “key takeaway” stories available. Think of this post as the key takeaways from the key takeaways.

A topline takeaway from several lists is that the Committee focused like a laser on Trump and his key associates, but didn’t spread the blame around as widely as they could have. From Ronald Brownstein at The Atlantic:

But the committee zoomed in so tightly on the culpability of Trump and his inner circle that it largely cropped out the dozens of other state and federal Republican officials who supported or enabled the president’s multifaceted, months-long plot. The committee downplayed the involvement of the legion of local Republican officials who enlisted as fake electors and said almost nothing about the dozens of congressional Republicans who supported Trump’s efforts—even to the point, in one case, of urging him to declare “Marshall Law” to overturn the result.

They were thinking like prosecutors, Brownstein says. They didn’t want to dilute the narrative. The endpoint they are going for is criminal indictments for Trump and his inner circle. Nobody says Jack Smith can’t go after the “marshall law” tribe.

Adam Schiff now has an op ed in the New York Times, Members of the Jan. 6 Committee and I Don’t Want You to Forget About ‘the Republican Congressmen.’ (no paywall)

But one line of effort to overturn the election is given scant attention, and that involved the willingness of so many members of Congress to vote to overturn it. Even after Capitol Police and Metropolitan Police put down the insurrection at great cost to themselves,the majority of Republicans in the House picked up right where they left off, still voting to overturn the results in important states.

At one of our Jan. 6 committee hearings, the committee vice chair Liz Cheney, a Republican, called out her colleagues in Congress for their duplicity in the most searing terms: “There will come a day when Donald Trump is gone, but your dishonor will remain.”

With our work on the committee largely concluded, it will now fall to the Justice Department to ensure a form of accountability that Congress is not empowered to provide, and to vindicate the rule of law in a manner beyond our reach: through prosecution.

Hear that, Hawley, you piece of bleep? In order to object to the electors the House needed a senator to sign off on it, and Mitch McConnell had told his caucus to not go there. But then Josh “the Flash” Hawley stepped up and became the first Senator to defy Mitch and sign on to objections to electors. After Hawley, Ted Cruz and a few other senators joined in. But Trump only needed one. Without at least one senator, Trump’s whole plan would have been halted.

From TPM, we learn that the fake electors scheme not only came from the top; the RNC itself was in on it.

Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, for example, personally gave Trump an update on the fake elector effort on the evening of Dec. 14, the day that the slates all voted.

Her involvement was previewed on Monday, when the committee released the executive summary, which stated that Trump “solicited the RNC’s assistance with the scheme. McDaniel agreed to provide that assistance.”

The full report goes further. McDaniel’s message purportedly said that “President Trump’s electors voted” both in “states that he won” and also in six “contested states.” It’s a funny formulation — both a cop to Trump’s ego and a partial admission that the effort was all a sham.

Trump’s executive assistant replied to McDaniel 101 minutes later, the report says. “It’s in front of him!” she wrote. 

Also, too,

The idea that Biden electors in states Trump lost could be replaced with fake, “alternate” electors that would vote for Trump had been kicking around the White House for weeks, but it was given legal heft by various Trumpworld attorneys, including Ken Chesebro and John Eastman, who drafted memos to put the scheme in motion.

Per the report, Eastman and Trump spoke over the phone for 23 minutes on Dec. 23, 2020 — the same day that the right-wing attorney drafted a memo outlining the theory.

From the excellent list of takeaways at Just Security, this is a quote from the report itself:

In early December, the highest levels of the Trump Campaign took note of Chesebro’s fake elector plan and began to operationalize it. On December 6th, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows forwarded a copy of Chesebro’s November 18, 2020, memo to Trump Campaign Senior Advisor Jason Miller writing, “Let’s have a discussion about this tomorrow.” Miller replied that he had just engaged with reporters on the subject, to which Meadows wrote: “If you are on it then never mind the meeting. We just need to have someone coordinating the electors for states.” Miller clarified that he had only been “working the PR angle” and they should still meet, to which Meadows answered: “Got it.” Later that week, Miller sent Meadows a spreadsheet that the Trump Campaign had compiled. It listed contact information for nearly all of the 79 GOP nominees to the electoral college on the November ballot for Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. And on December 8th, Meadows received a text message from a former State legislator in Louisiana recommending that the proposed “Trump electors from AR [sic] MI GA PA WI NV all meet next Monday at their state capitols[,] [c]all themselves to order, elect officers, and cast their votes for the President.
. . . Then they certify their votes and transmit that certificate to Washington.” Meadows replied: “We are.”

The “fake electors” section of the report is Chapter 3, which begins on PDF page 367, or hard copy page 341.

Vox points out that extremists were an integral part of the plot before January 6.

It also shows that key figures on the right thought the march to the Capitol was a central part of the plan. Ali Alexander, a far-right activist and organizer of the rally that day, believed that the White House wanted him to march to the Capitol. Alt-right media personality Alex Jones even asked Caroline Wren, a prominent Republican fundraiser who helped organize the rally, when he should leave Trump’s speech and begin the march, according to Wren’s testimony. Many of these figures connected in a Signal chat called “Friends of Stone,” named after longtime Trump ally Roger Stone. It included Stone, Alexander, Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio, and Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes.

The Just Security takeaways list leads with the role of racism in fueling all this extremism.

Another major takeaway is the extent of the effort to pressure state and local officials to overturn elections results. This is from Vox:

The committee laid out just how much effort Trump and his allies put into schemes to convince state and local officials to overturn the election. According to the report, “between the November election and the January 6th insurrection, President Trump or his inner circle engaged in at least 200 apparent acts of public or private outreach, pressure, or condemnation.”

This tally does not count other efforts by Trump campaign staffers to contact state legislators, which included efforts to contact 190 Republican elected officials just in Arizona, Georgia, and Michigan. The Trump campaign also put on a full-scale whip operation to organize its efforts to select fake electors and ensure they convened on December 14, when the Electoral College met, so they would have an alternate avenue to challenge the election results.

For a sense of how invested the former president personally was in his efforts, Trump tried to speak with Brad Raffensperger “at least 18 times” before that infamous January 2 phone call where he asked the Georgia secretary of state “to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have.”

Go for it, Fani Willis! I understand the Fulton County Grand Jury is writing a final report now.

There was already a lot of talk about how Cassidy Hutchinson’s “Trump World” lawyer, Stefan Passantino, advised her to withhold what she knew from the committee. From Above the Law:

On Monday, at the conclusion of the final public hearing, Rep. Zoe Lofgren alluded to a witness whose lawyer tried to manipulate her testimony to help Donald Trump and his allies hide the truth about the events leading up to the Capitol Riot. Approximately five minutes later, Passantino’s bio disappeared from the website of his law firm Michael Best.

Mr. Passantino is in a heap o’ trouble. And if this was done to one witness, it must have been done to others. It’s just a matter of time before more comes out, I suspect.

A lot of people will be disappointed that there is no mention of Ginni and Clarence Thomas in this report. We still don’t know why National Guard were not deployed in a more timely manner. I haven’t yet absorbed what was said about intelligence failures; probably not enough. But what intelligence there was had been shared with the White House. There is plenty of evidence to show that Trump knew many of those who came to his rally on January 6 had planned in advance to march on the Capitol.