January 6 Committee Chairman Worries About Repeat Attack on U.S. Capitol

Susan Jones | January 3, 2022 | 6:59am EST
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Supporters of President Donald Trump mill around in the Capitol Rotunda after breaking in to the building on January 6, 2021. (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
Supporters of President Donald Trump mill around in the Capitol Rotunda after breaking in to the building on January 6, 2021. (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

(CNSNews.com) - This is a big week for people intent on keeping alive memories of the disgraceful January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), chair of the select committee investigating the events of that day, told CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday that he fears a repeat of the attack:

Host Dana Bash asked Thompson, "Are you worried that an attack on our democracy like we're seeing right there with our own two eyes on January 6 last year could happen again going forward?"

"Yes, I am," Thompson replied:

Our committee toured the Capitol. We saw all those points and some others that's not in that video that really causes us significant concern that, unless we get it right, given the attitude of what's occurring in this country now, it could happen again.

When I see people legitimizing storming the Capitol and the activities around it, I'm very concerned. I'm concerned to the point that, sometimes, people feel they can break the law if they are dissatisfied.

The greatness of this country, Dana, has been we settle our differences at the ballot box. But now, all of a sudden, there's a mind-set out here that's saying, if my candidate loses, then I can tear the place up simply because my candidate did not win.

Thompson and most Democrats are focusing on President Donald Trump's 187 minutes of "inaction" while a mob of his supporters broke into the Capitol as lawmakers gathered to certify the 2020 election in Joe Biden's favor.

Horrified Americans watched the events in real time on television, and so, apparently, did President Donald Trump.

Thompson noted that Trump said nothing publicly for more than two hours, despite pleas from his aides and lawmakers to tell the mob to go home.

"Well, part of what we are trying to get as a committee from the National Archives is the exact records of what occurred on that day," Thompson said:

If we're successful -- and we think we will be -- we're convinced that we will have access to those 187 minutes of whatever occurred. But the harm that I see is the president of the United States seeing the Capitol of the United States under siege by people he sent to the Capitol and did nothing during that time.

Something's wrong with that. So we need to find out who was calling, who was texting, who was e-mailing during those 187 minutes to see whether or not that information will let us know if people were part of the problem.

Dana Bash asked Thompson if Trump's delay in telling the protesters to stop "may actually warrant a criminal referral?"

"Well, the only thing I can say, it's highly unusual for anyone in charge of anything to watch what's going on and do nothing," Thompson said.

But Thompson also said, "we don't know" if Trump's behavior was criminal:

"We're in the process of trying to get all the information. But I can say, if there's anything that we come upon as a committee that we think would warrant a referral to the Department of Justice, we will do that. And that's our oath as members of Congress.

"So it's not just that. It's any of the other things we're looking at. If there's any confidence on the part of our committee that something criminal we believe has occurred, we will make the referral."

The Democrat-led House of Representatives is now preparing to commemorate (or politicize) the events of January 6 with a "historic perspective," "Members' testimonials," and a prayer vigil, among other events.

Thompson told CNN "that what we have been able to ascertain is that we came perilously close to losing our democracy."

Had those insurrectionists been successful, we are not certain what we would have had, had it not been for the brave men and women who protected the Capitol, in spite of being woefully outnumbered.

We were in a difficult situation. We know former President Trump invited people to come to Washington on January 6, that he said it was going to be wild. We know that the speeches at the Eclipse (sic) weaponized a lot of people by telling them that people at the Capitol were trying to steal the election from them and they should go and be heard.

So, we are now in the process of interviewing witnesses, collecting thousands of pages of documents to say what actually occurred. As you know, that's the charge of the committee, to get to the facts and circumstances.

I can tell you right now there were a lot of missteps as to whether or not they were part of a broad plan. That's what we're looking at. But there are things, in terms of communication, between the Department of Defense and the National Guard, between state and local law enforcement, between intelligence-gathering agencies should not have been.

And so we are looking at it. And that's part of the body of work that our committee is doing on a daily basis.

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