The top investigator for the House January 6 committee has said the riots of that day were part of a ‘multipart plan to prevent the transfer of power’ following the 2020 General Election.
Timothy Heaphy, a former U.S. attorney who led the investigation, said he believes the Department of Justice also needs to charge several allies of former President Donald Trump including Trump’s former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.
Meadows never testified before the committee while Giuliani revealed little, pleading the Fifth throughout his testimony.
The House select committee spent months investigating Trump and his allies’ involvement in inciting the riot and called on several members of his inner circle to testify.
Although some decided to remain silent when called before the panel Heaphy says that the DOJ will ultimately come to a decision on who to charge depending on what further evidence they are able to procure – beyond what was presented to the House committee.
The top investigator for the House January 6 committee, Timothy Heaphy, has stated the January 6 riots were part of a ‘multipart plan to prevent the transfer of power’
The riots followed months of false claims by Trump and his allies that the election had been rigged against him. Pictured, Trump speaks to supporters from The Ellipse near the White House on January 6
Heaphy remained silent throughout the panel’s 18-month long investigation but has finally made his thoughts known to the New York Times in his first interview since January 6 congressional hearings concluded late last year.
On January 6, 2021, supporters of former President Donald Trump stormed the US Capitol as congress was getting ready to certify the 2020 election vote. Five people died in the riot.
The riots followed months of false claims by Trump and his allies that the election had been rigged against him.
Heaphy told the Times how he believed the country came close to losing Democracy itself on that day.
Heaphy told the Times how he believed the country came close to losing Democracy itself on that day. Pictured, Trump supporters try to break through a police barrier at the Capitol in Washington on January 6, 2021
With the investigation now concluded, Heaphy believes the DOJ may yet go on to charge several of former President Trump inner circle. Pictured, Chapman University law professor John Eastman, next to Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani
‘I didn’t fully appreciate sometimes how fragile democracy is. But for the courage of a handful of people who elevated principle over politics, against their own self-interest, we could have had a different outcome. We could have had the will of the people subverted. That’s frightening, and we can’t take it for granted.’
The Committee interviewed over a thousand people and reviewed over one million documents. The investigation quickly took on the feel of a criminal probe, Heaphy explained.
‘When we started to see intentional conduct, specific steps that appear to be designed to disrupt the joint session of Congress, that’s where it starts to sound criminal. The whole key for the special counsel is intent. The more evidence that we saw of the president’s intent, and others working with him, to take steps to prevent the transfer of power from happening, it started to feel more and more like possible criminal conduct.’
With the investigation now concluded, Heaphy believes the DOJ may yet go on to charge several of former President Trump inner circle.
Trump’s former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, pictured, did not testify at the hearings but Heaphy feels he may yet be charged by the DOJ
United States House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the US Capitol in Washington, DC holds its final meeting in December 2022
One criticism directed at the committee was how the panel waited until close to the end of the hearings before issuing a subpoena for President Trump to appear. He never testified
‘There is a cast of characters. I think you could look at [Rudolph] Giuliani, and Mark Meadows. I think that the Justice Department has to look very closely at whether there was an agreement or conspiracy.’
‘There’s a lot of evidence that we didn’t get. Mr. Meadows didn’t come and talk to us. We did interview Mr. Giuliani, but he asserted attorney-client privilege a lot. John Eastman cited the Fifth Amendment to everything.’
Heaphy noted how the DOJ might also pursue charges against lawyer John Eastman and Jeffrey Clark.
Eastman has received widespread attention for his role as attorney to then president Donald Trump during which he suggested that vice president Mike Pence could refuse the results of some states’ election results.
Clark, meanwhile, was a high-ranking DOJ official in the Trump administration andwas was one of the few lawyers within the DOJ who was willing to act on Trump’s baseless claims of election fraud and requests for help in overturning the results, witnesses said.
US Capitol police officers try to stop supporters of President Donald Trump to enter the Capitol on January 6, 2021. Demonstrators breeched security and entered the Capitol
‘A criminal grand jury investigation arguably overrules or takes precedence over an attorney-client privilege assertion or executive privilege. The grand jury may be able to get answers that we didn’t get, and I hope that they do,’ Heaphy told The Times.
‘How broad the conspiracy extends, I don’t know. But it’s potentially broader than even the people that we mentioned.
Heaphy explained how he believes the panel broke new ground in terms of understanding what lay behind the Capitol siege thanks to the inclusion of 14 former federal prosecutors who were brought in because of the magnitude of the work.
‘[A] pattern of the multipart plan to prevent the transfer of power started to take shape started to fall into place pretty early, and that was surprising. The world had seen the violence of the Capitol and how awful it was. But how we got there, and how methodical and intentional it was — this ratcheting up of pressure that ultimately culminates in the president inciting a mob to disrupt the joint session — that was new,’ Heaphy said as he realized the gravity of the task before him.
Heaphy also told how it was hard to interview witnesses when they were worried their cooperation would leak out after speaking, labeling them a ‘turncoat.’
‘I mean, there were days when we would interview a witness and literally 30 minutes later, there’s Luke Broadwater [NY Times journalist] on TV saying the select committee interviewed the witness,’ Heaphy explained.
‘And that makes it really difficult because there were times when people would say, ‘Well, my client would like to help the committee, but she’s concerned that if she does, then she’ll immediately be outed as a turncoat.”
One criticism directed at the committee was how the panel waited until close to the end of the hearings before issuing a subpoena for President Trump to appear and never issued one for Vice President Mike Pence to come. But Heaphy justifies the delay as simply part of the learning process of the investigation.
‘In any investigation, you want to learn as much as you can before you get to the most significant witnesses. Much like you do in a criminal investigation, you climb the ladder. You talk to people of increasing significance. You start at the bottom, and you build a foundation.’
Not everyone who was called to testify in front of the committee did so with some exercising their Fifth Amendment right not to speak.
‘The public nature, the scrutiny under which we operated, was not helpful, and it made it more difficult for us to earn the trust and confidence of people,’ Heaphy said.
‘I’m really glad that all of our transcripts have been released. So if anyone thinks that we misled or shaded or hid facts, it’s all out there. I wanted to make sure as the chief investigator that every single statement that any member made, that any witness made, we could stand behind.’