By Abby Livingston, The Texas Tribune
“U.S. House’s Jan. 6 committee will begin laying out evidence Thursday, but it’s not yet known if any Texans will testify” was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.
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WASHINGTON — The U.S. House select committee investigating the U.S. Capitol insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021, will begin publicly presenting evidence about the violent riot and its precipitating events at 7 p.m. Central time Thursday.
The select committee “will present previously unseen material documenting January 6th, receive witness testimony, preview additional hearings, and provide the American people a summary of its findings about the coordinated, multi-step effort to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election and prevent the transfer of power,” according to a news release.
The committee has yet to release a list of witnesses who will be testifying in the live hearings, so it remains unknown if any will go before the panel.
The committee has subpoenaed several allies of former President Donald Trump with Texas ties: Ali Alexander, who grew up in Tarrant County; Austin-based conspiracy theorist Alex Jones; longtime Dallas conservative fixture Katrina Pierson; retired Army Col. Phil Waldron of Central Texas; and former Trump fundraiser and native Austinite Caroline Wren.
No Texans serve on this panel, which is rare given the state’s House delegation is the second-largest in the country.
That the initial hearing will take place during prime-time television — rather than the typical middle-of-the-day nature of most Congressional hearings — indicates investigators’ hopes to make their presentation before as many Americans as possible.
Alexander, who led the “Stop the Steal” movement and attended the rally before the riot, testified before the committee behind closed doors in December. He also turned over thousands of communication records with Republican members of Congress and members of Trump’s inner circle.
Jones testified as well, repeatedly pleading the Fifth Amendment. In 2021, he said on his show he “was invited by the White House on about Jan. 3 to ‘lead the march’ to the Capitol, and that he paid nearly $500,000, mostly donated, to help organize the event on the Ellipse,” referring to the park south of the White House, according to The Washington Post.
Waldron, a retired U.S. Army colonel, spent the lead-up to the Capitol attack briefing lawmakers on how to overturn the 2020 election. The PowerPoint presentation outlining that plan eventually wound up in the possession of then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.
Pierson testified before the committee, Politico reported earlier this year. On Jan. 6, 2021, Pierson was backstage at the morning rally and was involved with the lineup of speakers, according to The Washington Post. At one point, she became involved in a backstage dispute with Wren that escalated to the point that law enforcement was called to intervene.
Wren also testified, telling MSNBC in March that she had no choice on the matter.
“It was either to cooperate with them or to be held in contempt of Congress and face a $100,000 fine and potentially a year in jail, which you’ve seen happen to a few individuals,” she said.
Wren is a longtime GOP fundraiser and was closely aligned during the Trump reelection campaign with Kimberly Guilfoyle, a conservative activist and girlfriend of Donald Trump Jr.
Wren’s name was listed on a National Park Service permit as a “VIP advisor” for the rally near the White House on the morning of the insurrection.
U.S. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy initially named U.S. Rep. Troy Nehls, a Richmond Republican and former law enforcement officer, to serve on the committee last summer. But after, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi objected to two non-Texas Republicans serving on the panel. She had no objection to Nehls, but McCarthy pulled the entire GOP slate from serving on the committee.
Instead, two frequent critics of former President Donald Trump, U.S. Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, joined with the Democrats to continue on with the investigation. Nehls unleashed criticism of the committee earlier this week.
“These January 6th Committee’s hearings are a waste of Congress’s time and the taxpayers’ money,” he wrote on Twitter earlier this week. “The truth is January 6th should never have happened.
“If the committee truly cared about January 6th, then they would investigate the negligent leadership of the Capitol Police … instead of trying to injure President Trump ahead of 2024,” he wrote on Twitter earlier this week. “Capitol Police had the intelligence and they refused to act on it, but that’s not the SHAM committee’s concern.”
Nehls helped barricade a door to the House floor during the mob attack, but he also has a contentious history with the U.S. Capitol Police.
While no Texas members are serving on the panel, several current and former state officials have surfaced in parallel investigations.
U.S. Rep. Ronny Jackson, an Amarillo Republican, recently surfaced in a group text chain among the Oathkeepers, a paramilitary group that led the violence of that day. In that conversation, Oathkeepers discussed during the riot Jackson’s location and need for their security. A Jackson spokesperson said the freshman congressman has never had contact with those involved in the text conversation.
Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s phone number surfaced in a tranche of texts to the phone of former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows. In the days between Election Day and the television networks calling the 2020 election for President Joe Biden, messages sent from Perry’s phone encouraged three state legislatures to ignore the will of the voters and send Trump electors to the Electoral College. A Perry spokesperson denied to CNN that Perry authored those texts.
Disclosure: Politico has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here.
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This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2022/06/09/us-house-jan-6-hearings-texans/.
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