Next Jan. 6 hearing may be ‘more sweeping,’ Schiff says, as committee weighs criminal referral

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(WASHINGTON) -- Ahead of what could be their final investigative hearing, scheduled for Wednesday afternoon, members of the House Jan. 6 committee on Sunday offered a small preview of what is to come as they rapidly approach the end of their timeline.

“We're not disclosing yet what the focus will be. I can say that, as this may be the last hearing of this nature -- that is, one that is focused on sort of the factual record -- I think it'll be potentially more sweeping than some of the other hearings," Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said on CNN’s State of the Union.

"But it too will be in very thematic," he said of the hearing. "It will tell the story about a key element of Donald Trump's plot to overturn the election. And the public will certainly learn things it hasn't seen before, but it will also understand information it already has in a different context by seeing how it relates to other elements of this plot."

After the committee's vice-chair, Rep. Liz Cheney, said Saturday that she believes the group will move forward unanimously, Schiff agreed and went a bit further when asked if there was going to be an unanimous criminal referral made about the former president's conduct. (Former President Donald Trump has repeatedly said he did nothing wrong and cast the committee, which includes two Republicans, as partisan.)

“It will be ... my recommendation, my feeling, that we should make referrals," Schiff said. "But we will get to a decision as a committee, and we will all abide by that decision, and I will join our committee members if they feel differently."

Cheney has also said the committee received around 800,000 pages of communications from the Secret Service in response to a subpoena. Members of the committee said Sunday they are still going through that information.

While the provided materials are not a substitute for the Jan. 6-related messages that were deleted, they offer some additional context, according to Schiff.

“We are still investigating how that came about [the deleted messages] and why that came about. And I hope and believe the Justice Department, on that issue, is also looking at whether laws were broken in the destruction of that evidence," Schiff said on CNN. "But we do have a mountain of information that we need to go through. But I think it's fair to say that it won't be a complete substitute for some of the most important evidence, which would have been on those phones."

Asked about former committee adviser Denver Riggleman’s recent suggestion that “the White House switchboard had connected to a rioter's phone” during the attack on the Capitol last year -- and if he viewed such a development as significant to the investigation -- Schiff downplayed the comment.

"I can't comment on the particulars. I can say that each of the issues that Mr. Riggleman raised during the period he was with the committee, which ended quite some time ago, we looked into. And one of the things that has given our committee credibility is we've been very careful about what we say, not to overstate matters,” Schiff said, adding, "Without the advantage of the additional information we've gathered since he left the committee, it poses real risks to be suggesting things. So, we have looked into all of these issues."

Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., appeared on NBC's Meet the Press and was asked about the likelihood that the Jan. 6 committee will have testimony from Ginni Thomas and Newt Gingrich before Wednesday’s hearing.

“I doubt that. But I think that there is an agreement in place with Ginni Thomas to come and talk and I know the committee is very interested,” Raskin said, referring to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas' wife, a noted conservative activist who was in touch with Trump's team as he pushed to overturn the 2020 results.

Raskin said that those testimonies -- once they are given -- will be included in the committee's final report if the hearings have already concluded.

He was also asked if that report will be finished by the midterm elections.

“I don't know whether it will be done then, but our commitment is to get it done by the end of this Congress [by January]," Raskin said. "The House of Representatives, unlike the Senate, ends every two years. A completely new Congress comes in. So that’s the end of our lease on life and we have to get it out to the people.”

Pressed further on the amount of work still left for them to do, Raskin pledged that the committee will “make sure our materials are made public and available for the future, and we're going to preserve them. We're not going to allow them to be destroyed.”

The committee chair, Bennie Thompson, told reporters last week that the hearings were wrapping up.

"Unless something else develops, this hearing, at this point, is the final hearing. But it's not in stone because things happen," Thompson, D-Miss., said then.

He promised "substantial footage" of the riot and "significant witness testimony" that hadn't previously been released.

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