A former top adviser to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, riot said Sunday there was no “smoking gun” indicating that then-President Trump planned for the U.S. Capitol to be overrun by his supporters.
Denver Riggleman, who until recently was a senior adviser to the committee, told CNN’s “State of the Union” that there was no direct evidence indicating the riot was a premeditated attack.
“That probably [was] going to be very difficult to even find based on the limited authorities of Congress as far as getting data and things like that,” said Mr. Riggleman, a one-term Republican congressman from Virginia who lost to a more conservative challenger in 2020.
However, he said that when the totality of evidence is presented by the committee Thursday, it will paint a troubling picture of Mr. Trump’s efforts to overturn the election. “I think when you look at the totality of the evidence — and some of these are my personal opinions — it is pretty apparent that at some points, President Trump knew what was going on,” Mr. Riggleman said.
“If you look at what’s happening and the message that’s being pushed by President Trump himself on social media … you start to see this pipeline of information that’s very damaging.”
The comments come as the Democratic-led House panel investigating the Jan. 6 riot is set to hold a hearing Thursday. Unlike most congressional hearings, this one will be held in the evening in a prime-time news slot.
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“Our goal is to present the narrative of what happened in this country, how close we came to losing our democracy, what led to that violent attack,” Rep. Adam B. Schiff told CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday. “But perhaps most important is the public hasn’t seen it woven together, how one thing led to another, how one line of effort to overturn the election led to another and ultimately led to terrible violence, the first nonpeaceful transfer of power in our history.”
The committee held one hearing last July, less than a month after it was formed. At the time, lawmakers heard from four law enforcement officers who were present at the Capitol during the riot.
Since then, the committee has held brief public proceedings in which the members voted to hold witnesses in contempt for failing to comply with the investigation. Its push on that front has not been all that successful, however.
Last week, the Justice Department declined to indict former Trump White House officials Mark Meadows and Dan Scavino after both men were found in contempt of Congress for refusing to cooperate with the committee.
“There is no absolute immunity,” said Mr. Schiff, a California Democrat. “We hope to get more insight from the Justice Department, but, I think, it’s a grave disappointment and could impede our work if other witnesses think they can likewise refuse to show up with impunity.”