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Jan. 6 panel must invite Trump to testify, committee member Rep. Lofgren says


The House investigation of the 2021 attack on the Capitol is in its final stages. The question is, what's next for the January 6 committee? Democratic Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren of California is a committee member. And she says, they are in a tricky position.

ZOE LOFGREN: We're a legislative committee. We're not a prosecutorial body.

FADEL: Over the last few days, reports emerged of a split inside the committee over whether to make a criminal referral for former President Donald Trump. But Lofgren told our co-host, A Martinez, they are not divided.

LOFGREN: Well, first, those reports are incorrect. The committee has never even had a discussion of this. And the press is spinning around, and commentators, that somehow there's some division, we've never had a discussion.


Not even informally?

LOFGREN: Now, I did point out that there is no legal import. Essentially, a criminal - so-called criminal referral is the committee sends a letter, right? And it doesn't have any legal impact. That doesn't mean we wouldn't do it and we haven't had a discussion of it. We've accomplished a great deal, but we're not quite done. And we expect and plan to have public hearings in the very near future to lay out what we've discovered not only about what happened on January 6 but the elements of the plot leading up to January 6.

MARTÍNEZ: Are you planning on having those discussions at some point very soon?

LOFGREN: Well, at some point, we very well may. But the real issue, I think, is to make sure that the American public. And that would include the Department of Justice, has the evidence (laughter) that we have compiled.

MARTÍNEZ: The public hearings, what's the timeline for that?

LOFGREN: Well, we haven't set a date yet, so I'm not going to leap ahead of the chairman's announcement. But we think quite soon - this spring for sure.

MARTÍNEZ: How likely do you think it is that the committee will ask former President Donald Trump to testify?

LOFGREN: That is something we haven't finalized. So we're looking very seriously at that. Obviously, he's a central figure in this. I am mindful, however, that his track record of truthfulness is a bit squishy. So to finish this without inviting him in, I think, would be a mistake, personally. So again, no final decision has been made on that.

MARTÍNEZ: But it sounds like you would like him to testify.

LOFGREN: Well, I think we have to - I personally believe that we have to invite him in. It's important to note that members of his close circle have come in. Both his daughter and son-in-law came in for long interviews. But there are many others who were in the inner circle. Just take, for example, you make a phone call - Person A makes a phone call. Well, if you haven't talked to Person A, there are people in the office sitting around that person who overheard their end of the conversation. And it - and he made a call to Person B. There's people sitting around Person B who heard it. So you can piece together quite a bit of information, which we're attempting to do.

MARTÍNEZ: Would that be a reason to ask former Vice President Mike Pence to testify?

LOFGREN: Well, again, we have not made a decision on that. But I will say that we have received very substantial information about the vice president's activities from a whole variety of witnesses, as well as documentary evidence.

MARTÍNEZ: If the committee were to ask Donald Trump to testify and he declines, would there be something missing? Would there be something lacking in that final report without his testimony?

LOFGREN: Well, you know, again, it's hard to know without knowing what he would say. I am aware that some of the press, I think, including NPR, did analysis of how often he lied.

MARTÍNEZ: But even if he were to lie, you'd want that on the record, though, wouldn't you?

LOFGREN: Well, as I say, we've not made a final decision. I personally believe we should invite him in. That's just my view. The committee has not yet made a decision on that.

MARTÍNEZ: Congresswoman, how does this committee's work compare with your previous work as an impeachment manager three times over, wondering what you've seen as - or felt some of the similarities and differences have been?

LOFGREN: This is the most wide-ranging, in-depth investigation I've ever been involved in.

MARTÍNEZ: More than the impeachment?


MARTÍNEZ: In what way? How has it gone?

LOFGREN: I mean, we have interviewed more than 800 people. We have more than 100,000 documents. It's an intense, wide, professional investigation. And it's yielded a very broad picture of the plot that led up to the January 6 events. We're not quite done. But we have uncovered quite a bit of information.

MARTÍNEZ: What do you hope the results of the investigation will do for the way Americans look back on what happened on January 6, 2021?

LOFGREN: Well, I hope that by presenting the facts that we've uncovered, people will understand it wasn't just some random day. It was a bad day for America, where, you know, there was violence. Hundreds of people were injured. People died. People broke into the Capitol. It didn't happen in isolation. It was the product of quite an extensive plot to upend the Constitution and to prevent the peaceful transfer of power. So I hope that by the time we've presented our entire report, people will have a renewed passion for our Constitution, for our rule of law, and understand that the system of democratic transition of power is not just, you know, ours by right. We have to defend that with thoughtful rhetoric and adherence to the rule of law. I hope that that passion for America is renewed a little bit with this report.

MARTÍNEZ: That is California Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren. Congresswoman, thank you very much.

LOFGREN: You bet.

FADEL: She spoke to our co-host, A Martinez.


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Lisa Weiner is a line producer on Morning Edition. For NPR, she's covered the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan and traveled to Ukraine to cover the Russian invasion in 2022. Prior to joining NPR, she held positions as an editor at WTOP-FM, as an engineer at Radio Free Asia and recorded audio books for the Library of Congress. Weiner has a master's degree in audio technology from American University. She got her start in radio working the late-night shift as a student DJ in the basement of WRUR-FM at the University of Rochester. Weiner has lived in Tel Aviv, Israel, and Budapest, Hungary.