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How (and why) the Jan. 6 committee is making 'real progress'

On the surface, the Jan. 6 committee is fighting with Team Trump for cooperation. Below the surface, the investigation is making surprising strides.

In light of the coverage surrounding the Jan. 6 committee and its fight to hear from Donald Trump's allies, it may be tempting to think the bipartisan select committee has been stymied in its work.

As NBC News reported, there's fresh evidence to the contrary.

Members of the House panel investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol have interviewed more than 150 people so far, ranking member Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., said Thursday. Cheney, the top Republican on the select committee, said that the panel spoke to "a whole range of people connected to the events, connected to understanding what happens."

The select committee's co-chair added, "It is a range of engagements — some formal interviews, some depositions.... There really is a huge amount of work underway that is leading to real progress for us."

It led Politico to note, "The public has just seen the tip of the iceberg.... [Cheney's reference to more than 150 interviews] is an indication that the vast majority of the committee's work is happening out of public view."

In related news:

  • Donald Trump's lawyers were in court yesterday, insisting that the former president should be allowed to claim executive privilege over documents sought by the Jan. 6 committee. To put it mildly, a federal judge appeared skeptical of the Republican's arguments.
  • CNN reported that Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson, who chairs the bipartisan select committee, said that he's signed about 20 additional subpoenas, which should go out "soon," possibly as early as today.
  • Politico reported yesterday that committee investigators "are examining the contacts between one of the rioters who breached the Capitol and state-level GOP officials who worked with former President Donald Trump as he attempted to overturn the 2020 election."
  • Reuters reported that the House select committee is scheduled to hear testimony today from Jeffrey Clark, a former senior Justice Department official in the Trump administration.

If Clark's name sounds familiar, it's not your imagination. As regular readers may recall, in the aftermath of the 2020 presidential election, as Donald Trump explored ways to weaponize the Justice Department to help him hold power he hadn't earned, Clark became a person of great importance to the then-president.

Clark was the acting head of the Justice Department's civil division at the time, and he used his office to sketch out a map for Republican legislators to follow in which they could try to overturn the will of the state's voters. Trump was impressed enough with Clark's reported anti-election efforts that the then-president considered making Clark the acting attorney general as part of a possible Justice Department overhaul with only two weeks remaining in Trump's term.

We now know, of course, that Clark's proposed scheme was not implemented, but it's hardly a surprise that the Jan. 6 investigatory committee wants to have a chat with him.