Thompson said the panel would meet this week to discuss procedural options for Republican lawmakers who oppose cooperation, including Representatives Scott Perry (Penn.) and Jim Jordan (Ohio), who both declined voluntary interviews with the committee. While Thompson has recently suggested there may be little recourse, a top House leader called for a muscular approach to the holdouts.
“I would support forcing members to testify before the committee if they can provide relevant information that is needed,” said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.).
While “coercive” testimony may entail subpoenas, the House also has other weapons in its arsenal, from fining members to depriving them of committee duties, to punishing the ethics committee. So far, there is no indication that the committee is leaning towards any particular option.
The panel also faces a crucial decision about whether or not to seek Pence’s participation in the study. Thompson confirmed that the committee has had initial discussions with Pence’s counsel and has already said he would welcome Pence’s voluntary cooperation, but it would be a different matter. Thompson even suggested that the panel has received so many testimonials from people in and around Pence’s orbit that his direct testimony may not be necessary.
“I think at some point the committee will make a decision whether we know enough about it already or whether we should hear about it from the former vice president,” Thompson told reporters Monday night.
Trump spent weeks pressuring Pence to single-handedly nullify the 2020 election during the January 6 joint session of Congress. Pence, as vice president, was constitutionally required to preside over the session and vote counting of the Electoral College. Typically, the vice president’s role is ceremonial, but Trump has embraced a fringe legal theory that claimed Pence had far-reaching power to reject Joe Biden’s voters and send the election back to the states.
Pence eventually rejected that theory, and his decision fueled the mob of rioters outside the Capitol. Some of them chanted “hang Mike Pence” as they searched the building.
Since then, relations between Trump and Pence have remained tense, with the former vice president defending his decision to certify the vote that day. Several of Pence’s top former associates have also come before the committee, including his former national security adviser Keith Kellogg and former chief of staff Marc Short.
Thompson said in an interview published last week with NPR that the panel expected to file a request for Pence to appear before the panel this month, although committee officials have emphasized that the decision is not final.
The commission is increasingly focused on illustrating a devastating story for Trump: that he incited a mob, sent them to the Capitol, and then sat on his hands as the riots unfolded on television, making urgent pleas from his aides, allies and even family members ignored me to intervene. A federal judge this week said those hours of silence could indicate as a legal matter that he “agreed” with what the rioters were doing, given that a “reasonable” person would have clarified his intent immediately, once the violence was over. broke out.
Instead of calling for the violence to stop, Trump and his allies continued to urge lawmakers to delay certification of the election for as long as possible. The attempt was eventually thwarted after Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell reconvened the departments to complete election certification immediately after law enforcement dispersed the riot.
In separate comments to reporters on Monday, Thompson also responded to a Mediafrolic report that then Vice President-elect Kamala Harris was at Democratic National Committee headquarters on Jan. 6 when a pipe bomb was discovered outside by Capitol Police.
“Someone Should” [investigate] if they aren’t [already]’ he said Monday evening. “Until I read the story, I didn’t know she was in the building.”
Olivia Beavers contributed to this report.