Trying to Trademark ‘Rigged Election,’ and Other Revelations From the Jan. 6 Transcripts
WASHINGTON — The nation’s top military officer saw the Jan. 6 attack as similar to the “Reichstag moment” that led to Nazi dictatorship. Aides for former President Donald J. Trump saw their future job opportunities slipping away, and predicted being “perpetually unemployed.” Mr. Trump himself saw the push to overturn the 2020 election as a financial opportunity, moving to trademark the phrase “Rigged Election.”
These were among the latest revelations from the House Jan. 6 committee, which released a whirlwind of documents in its final days and wrapped up its work on Monday. Since Friday night, the panel has released several troves of evidence, including about 120 previously unseen transcripts along with emails and text messages obtained during its 18-month inquiry, totaling tens of thousands of pages.
The evidence touched on nearly every aspect of Mr. Trump’s push to overturn the 2020 election. It provided new details about how some of his top allies lobbied for aggressive plans to keep him in power, while others lamented how the dark day of Jan. 6, 2021, had negatively affected their employment prospects.
The panel said it has now turned over an “enormous volume of material” to the Justice Department as Jack Smith, the special counsel, conducts a parallel investigation into the events of Jan. 6.
“Accountability is now critical to thwart any other future scheme to overturn an election,” the committee’s leaders, Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi, and Representative Liz Cheney, Republican of Wyoming, said in a statement.
In the end, the committee released about 280 transcripts of interviews. Though the panel interviewed more than 1,000 witnesses, only a few hundred sessions took the form of formal depositions or transcribed interviews. Lawmakers said they withheld certain transcripts that contained sensitive information.
Here are some takeaways from the recently released evidence:
A senior military adviser said Mr. Trump seemed to acknowledge his defeat.
In a 302-page transcript of his interview with the committee, Gen. Mark A. Milley, the voluble chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the panel about a meeting in the Oval Office a few weeks after Election Day, in which he said Mr. Trump seemed to acknowledge he was not going to be sworn in again.
General Milley described Mr. Trump saying “words to the effect of: Yeah, we lost, we need to let that issue go to the next guy. Meaning President Biden.”
That statement built on other evidence the committee spent significant time documenting: That Mr. Trump was aware he had lost but continued to falsely claim otherwise. At one point General Milley suggested it might have been another adviser who said it, but stated when asked again that it was Mr. Trump.
General Milley also recalled seeing the Nazi imagery in the crowd on Jan. 6 and saying to his staff: “These guys look like the brown shirts to me. This looks like a Reichstag moment.”
Understand the Events on Jan. 6
- Timeline: On Jan. 6, 2021, 64 days after Election Day 2020, a mob of supporters of President Donald J. Trump raided the Capitol. Here is a close look at how the attack unfolded.
- A Day of Rage: Using thousands of videos and police radio communications, a Times investigation reconstructed in detail what happened — and why.
- Lost Lives: A bipartisan Senate report found that at least seven people died in connection with the attack.
- Jan. 6 Attendees: To many of those who attended the Trump rally but never breached the Capitol, that date wasn’t a dark day for the nation. It was a new start.
Aides saw their futures damaged.
Some of the most striking exchanges in the committee’s text messages were between Mr. Trump’s longtime adviser Hope Hicks and Julie Radford, the chief of staff to Mr. Trump’s oldest daughter, Ivanka.
In them, both women lamented that Mr. Trump had caused irreparable harm to his own staff as the violence played out.
“In one day he ended every future opportunity that doesn’t include speaking engagements at the local Proud Boys chapter,” Ms. Hicks fumed in a message. “All of us that didn’t have jobs lined up will be perpetually unemployed.”
More evidence emerged that Trump planned to join the crowd at the Capitol.
Several Trump advisers made clear that Mr. Trump had intended for days to join a crowd of his supporters marching on the Capitol.
“POTUS expectations are to have something intimate at the ellipse, and call on everyone to march to the capitol,” Katrina Pierson, a Trump spokeswoman, wrote in a Jan. 2, 2021, email.
Kayleigh McEnany, Mr. Trump’s press secretary, also wrote in a note on Jan. 6 that Mr. Trump had wanted to walk alongside the crowd as it descended on the Congress: “POTUS wanted to walk to capital. Physically walk. He said fine ride beast.”
Bannon continued to agitate.
Stephen K. Bannon, an outside adviser to Mr. Trump, continued to endorse extreme tactics even after the violence of Jan. 6.
On Jan. 8, 2021, he wrote in a text message to his spokeswoman, Alexandra Preate, that he wanted one million people to surround the Capitol after Mr. Biden was seated in the White House.
“I’d surround the Capitol in total silence,” Mr. Bannon wrote, according to a transcript of Ms. Preate’s interview.
Mr. Bannon also advised that Mr. Trump should have nothing to do with Patrick Byrne, the wealthy businessman who financed efforts to overturn the 2020 election. “Steve Bannon once told me, he said, Patrick Byrne’s crazy, and he should not be on the stage with Donald Trump,” Ms. Preate testified.
Trump lawyers investigated fraud claims and couldn’t prove them.
Joshua Findlay, a Trump campaign lawyer, told the panel he was tasked with looking into fraud allegations in Georgia, but came up empty.
“The big complaints that you would hear about, you know, massive vote flips and things like that, we just didn’t ever — at least in Georgia — we did not ever find any evidence of that,” he testified.
Nevertheless, Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, joined forces with another lawyer named Kenneth Chesebro, who devised ways to challenge the 2020 election through the use of alternative slates of electors.
Mr. Findlay said Mr. Chesebro and Mr. Giuliani teamed up “promoting these theories and being aggressive, you know, aggressively promoting them,” Mr. Findlay recalled.
“Rudy Giuliani was making a lot of the decisions about litigation strategy,” he testified. “He really bought into Ken’s theory on this.”
Kash Patel was a recurring figure.
Mr. Smith, the special counsel, is also investigating Mr. Trump’s handling of sensitive documents.
A figure in both the documents investigations and the committee’s inquiry was Kash Patel, currently one of Mr. Trump’s representatives to the National Archives. Several witnesses testified about a push to install Mr. Patel, a Trump loyalist, in a high-ranking C.I.A. post, something that the agency’s director, Gina Haspel, along with Vice President Mike Pence and the White House counsel, Pat A. Cipollone, moved to stop. But not everyone found Mr. Patel objectionable.
Robert C. O’Brien, Mr. Trump’s final national security adviser, called Mr. Patel a “good guy” in his testimony.
General Milley took a different view, describing the elevation of Mr. Patel as concerning.
He recalled confronting Mr. Patel and Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, while in a V.I.P. box at the Army-Navy game.
“To Kash Patel, I said: ‘So, Kash, which one are you going to get, C.I.A. or F.B.I.?’ And Patel’s face, you know, he looks down and he comes back and says: ‘Chairman, Chairman.’ And I looked at White House Chief of Staff Meadows and said: ‘What are you guys trying to do?’”
Trump wanted to trademark ‘Rigged Election.’
During the tumultuous post-election period, Mr. Trump and his team worked intensely at raising money — bringing in hundreds of millions — while trying to register trademarks about fighting election results, the transcripts show.
In one recent transcript, the committee revealed an email from Dan Scavino Jr., a deputy White House chief of staff, to Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and adviser, titled “POTUS requests.”
“Hey Jared! POTUS wants to trademark/own rights to below, I don’t know who to see — or ask…I don’t know who to take to,” the email states, before providing two bolded terms: “Save America PAC!” with an exclamation mark and “Rigged Election!”
“Guys — can we do ASAP please?” Mr. Kushner then wrote, forwarding the request.
‘I don’t recall.’
The transcripts also, once again, show the difficulties for investigators.
Mr. Chesebro repeatedly invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, while Molly Michael, an assistant to Mr. Trump, told the committee more than 100 times that she couldn’t recall events from Jan. 6.
The committee ran into a similar problem with Anthony Ornato, a former deputy chief of staff at the White House who had also been the special agent in charge of Mr. Trump’s Secret Service detail. He said he did not remember significant moments that multiple witnesses recounted to the panel. “I don’t recall any conversation taking place about the possible movement of the president to the Capitol,” Mr. Ornato testified.
The committee published excerpts from text messages between Mr. Ornato and a White House aide, Cassidy Hutchinson — whose statements have at times been in conflict — that appeared to support her memory of some events on Jan. 6 that she has spoken of. In the messages, she relayed that Mr. Trump was talking, as he had previously, about going to the Capitol himself, with Mr. Ornato replying to her comment.
Trump was directly involved in the false elector scheme.
Mr. Trump personally involved himself in the false elector scheme, according to Ronna McDaniel, the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee. Ms. McDaniel recounted a call after the election in which Mr. Trump introduced her to John Eastman, the lawyer who wrote a now-infamous memo that laid out a path for the former president to remain in power.
Mr. Eastman, she said, then spoke about how he believed it was important for the committee to help the Trump campaign “gather these contingent electors,” she said.
Stephanie Lai contributed reporting.