Hawley and Cruz escape Jan. 6 investigation, have no regrets over role

WASHINGTON (AP) – The week leading up to the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. CapitolMissouri’s Josh Hawley has become the first Republican senator to announce he will oppose certification of the 2020 election.

Ted Cruz of Texas came next, enacting his own plan on a flight from Houston to Washington a few days before the joint session of Congress to certify the election results.

In all, a dozen GOP senators originally planned to contest Joe Biden’s victory. But unlike their House GOP counterparts who have been subpoenaed for their testimony before the Jan. 6 commission, the Republican senators largely escaped investigation.

Although the committee shared highlights about senators, including Hawley’s raised fist salute to rioters that day – an image etched in history, and now on coffee mugs the senator sells – he made the surprising decision, although pragmatic, not to call senators to testify. Dramatic video showed Hawley sprinting from the Senate Chamber later that day as rioters swarmed.

Amid wider public scrutiny on Jan. 6, senators had to explain their actions on their own terms, and often did so defiantly.

“I don’t regret it,” Hawley said to applause at Turning Point USA’s Student Action Summit in Tampa, Fla., after taking the stage Friday to a standing ovation.

As the committee’s January 6 summer hearings draw to a close, Chairman Bennie Thompson has indicated the group is looking elsewhere. As work continues, the investigation is closing in on the top White House brass and the ousted president’s inner circle.

“We continue to receive new information every day,” Thompson, D-Miss., said last week, announcing the next round of hearings in September. “We are looking for many additional witnesses for testimony.”

The House committee is investigating not only the gruesome attack on the Capitol, but also Trump’s extraordinary efforts to nullify the presidential election by submitting “fake” lists of voters from battleground states to vote for. him, not for Biden, when Congress convened Jan. 6 to tabulate the results of the 2020 presidential election.

Senators could provide information about the preparation for Jan. 6, including any conversations they may have had with Trump and his lawyers who were crafting the plan for fake voters, said Norm Eisen, senior fellow at Brookings and a former top responsible. adviser to the Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee.

In a dramatic screenshot of a text exchange, the committee recounted how a top aide to GOP Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin attempted to deliver a list of fake pro-Trump voters to the vice president. of the time, Mike Pence, when he was. presiding in his ceremonial role of certifying the election. Johnson said he was not involved in that effort.

But after interviewing more than 1,000 witnesses and issuing rare subpoenas to other House lawmakers, Eisen said the panel was trying to preserve its political capital by refusing to compel senators to testify in what would be seen as an unusual challenge from the House to the upper house.

The January 6 committee’s decision to issue subpoenas to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California and Representatives Jim Jordan of Ohio, Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, Andy Biggs of Arizona and Mo Brooks of Alabama was a show of strength by the nine-member panel. And it came after lengthy deliberations among lawmakers, who for weeks debated whether it was worth taking the unprecedented step of subpoenaing members of their own chamber to further stoke partisan tensions over of the 2021 attack.

“They only have a short time in committee,” Eisen said.

Cruz declined to say Tuesday whether he would have appeared if the Jan. 6 panel had asked for his testimony. Hawley’s office also said it wouldn’t want to address a hypothetical situation.

But in recent conversations, Republicans have maintained their efforts to challenge Biden’s victory.

“This country would have been much better off” if Congress had passed his plan, Cruz told The Associated Press recently.

Cruz had proposed forming a commission to audit voter fraud in disputed states, even though Trump’s own Justice Department said there had been no voter fraud on a scale that could have tipped the courts. 2020 elections. Dozens of court cases alleging fraud had been dismissed or not pursued.

Cruz said he did not recall conversations with Trump ally John Eastman, the conservative lawyer who was the architect of the alternative voters plan. Last month, federal authorities seized Eastman’s phone and issued subpoenas to voters in states across the country allegedly involved in the scheme.

“I struggled for a long time with what was the best approach to take when it came to certification on January 6,” Cruz said. He said he authored the statement alone, which he released with 11 senators, whom he said rushed on the flight back to Washington.

Hawley brushed off questions about the committee’s work and declined last month to comment on Eastman’s plans for alternative voters.

A police officer testified before the committee that Hawley’s raised fist on Jan. 6 “annoyed the crowd” that day, Rep. Elaine Luria, D-Va, said. During last week’s hearing, she viewed the video showing how Hawley “fleed after protesters he helped anger stormed the Capitol.”

Johnson downplayed his aide’s attempt to pass a fake voters list to Pence. The transfer never happened, but the moment showed how well the plan came to fruition. Had he been successful, the electoral votes for Michigan and Wisconsin might have gone to Trump, not Biden, the legitimate winner in those states.

After police cleared the Capitol of rioters that night, seven Republican senators led by Cruz and Hawley stuck with the plan to challenge the election results. Several of the other GOP senators who originally signed on withdrew.

At least one Republican who voted to challenge the election results after the riots, Sen. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama, said Tuesday he would speak to the committee if asked for his testimony,

“I would go,” said Tuberville, who took a phone call from Trump as the senators were whisked away to safety. Tuberville was also among the senators who received a voicemail from Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani that evening, the committee said.

Tuberville said he did not watch the hearings. “There’s nothing, anything, that I’ve seen that can change my mind about anything I’ve voted on,” he said.

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Associated Press writer Jill Colvin in Tampa, Fla., contributed to this report.

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