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House Democrats Ramping Up Probes Into Jan. 6 Insurrection

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

House Democrats are ramping up their probes into the January 6 attack on the Capitol, using documents that reveal new details about how President Trump fought to overturn election results. Here's House Oversight Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CAROLYN MALONEY: Five months after the attack, we still do not have the full story of these failures because the FBI and Department of Justice have not fully cooperated with this committee's investigation.

SHAPIRO: The new findings about the Trump pressure campaign came the same day two congressional committees held new hearings on the deadly insurrection. To tell us more, we are joined by NPR congressional reporter Claudia Grisales. Hi, Claudia.

CLAUDIA GRISALES, BYLINE: Hi, Ari.

SHAPIRO: Tell us more about these documents that House Democrats just uncovered. What do they show?

GRISALES: Yes. The House Oversight Committee issued a 232-page packet that includes emails showing new ways former President Trump tried to pressure the Justice Department to probe sham voter fraud allegations. In one email, Trump asked Justice official Jeffrey Rosen to look into these claims just minutes before Trump announced Rosen would take over the top job as acting attorney general.

Emails also showed former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows pushing conspiracy theories, such as that voter fraud was caused by Italian satellites. And Meadows also pressured Justice officials to investigate these false claims. Rosen shared one of these conspiracy theories with another DOJ official, who called it, quote, "pure insanity." And Democrats say all of this culminated in the January 6 attack.

SHAPIRO: So the Oversight Committee was one of two that heard testimony today about January 6. Who testified, and what did we learn from them?

GRISALES: We heard from FBI Director Christopher Wray, who said the agency is now close to 500 arrests tied to the siege. Both he and two Defense Department officials - General Charles Flynn and Lieutenant General Walter Piatt, who both testified for the first time - all repeatedly defended their response that day. Flynn, who is the brother of former embattled Trump adviser Michael Flynn, said he and other military officials were delayed because they needed time to develop a plan for a new mission. Let's take a listen.

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CHARLES FLYNN: This work continued with utter focus and urgency throughout the night of January 6 and well afterwards.

GRISALES: We also know from additional Oversight Committee findings that 12 requests were made for backup that day in all, and the Guard received standby orders five times. And Democrats also focused on the Defense Department and what they said were contradictions for officials on how much they knew. And this all feeds into their push for an outside commission.

SHAPIRO: So that was all happening in the Oversight Committee, while at the same time, the House Administration Committee was having its own hearing. What was uncovered there?

GRISALES: Yes. We heard more from the Capitol Police watchdog - his name is Michael Bolton - about the shortfalls for Capitol Police on training, like how 24 - and issues with equipment, like how 24 ballistic vests and helmets were stolen on the day of the insurrection by rioters because police had to retreat that day. The inspector general issued a slew of new recommendations, such as how they should be properly storing this equipment and boosting their resources.

SHAPIRO: You mentioned the push for an outside commission. Where does that stand?

GRISALES: The Senate came very close to approving this last month, falling just a few votes short. But it appears they're still stuck. That's left House Speaker Nancy Pelosi with a difficult decision on whether to appoint a select committee or launch other probes. And all of this is still under discussion right now.

SHAPIRO: That's NPR congressional reporter Claudia Grisales and the ongoing investigation into the January 6 insurrection. Thank you, Claudia.

GRISALES: Thank you much.

(SOUNDBITE OF HOT CHIP SONG, "LOOK AT WHERE WE ARE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.