The January 6 Committee sent a letter to Ivanka Trump asking her to testify. It’s eight pages, with snippets from documents and testimony they have. But there’s more than that to it.
There are any number of juicy quotes, although most of them have shown up in one way or another in the Committee’s other communications.
The January 6 Committee has a number of jobs to do: Protect the operation of Congress and the government more generally; understand what happened that culminated in January 6; and make the public aware of that history and its dangers.
The committee has tens of thousands of pages of documents and hundreds of hours of testimony. They are now putting that evidence together to pinpoint the further evidence they need. The Department of Justice and the news media are also investigating the events leading up to January 6. Each has a different mission and approach, although there are overlaps. I’m discussing only the January 6 committee here.
The letter details the subjects on which the committee wants to hear from Ivanka. To that end, they quote other testimony, which itself reveals some of the information in the committee’s possession, but the letter has broader meanings, which Ivanka or her legal counsel should be able to read.
Some of those meanings may reside in the choice of material in the letter, which may have additional meaning for Ivanka, beyond what we can see. The overall message is that the committee has reconstructed Donald Trump’s activities through January 6, down to his reactions to the attack on the capital. Some of the information for that reconstruction has come from people who were present with him. Ivanka was also present with him, although not through the whole day. The committee’s questions for Ivanka focus on January 6.
Clearly the committee has much more information than is in the letter. We don’t know the full extent of that information, but Ivanka and her lawyers have a better idea of it, although they don’t know everything. Today the National Archives turned over the rest of the documents the committee sought from them. A draft was leaked through other sources of an order, for Donald’s signature, that would have directed the Secretary of Defense to utilize the National guard to seize voting machines. Newspaper articles are providing fuller accounts of January 6 and its planning. Here’s a recent one on Rudy Giuliani’s role in falsifying electoral college votes.
Ivanka, and the others who have recently been invited or subpoenaed to appear before the committee, know parts of what went down very well. But the committee may have enough information without them, or perhaps wants their testimony to confirm what they have from a more authoritative source. Additionally, the committee’s requests underline who was involved in or witnessed the events. The list of those people and their responses is part of the case that the committee is assembling.
The letter is also a warning to Ivanka and others who were there. The committee has significant information that involves them in the events of January 6 from people who were there. Who else has spoken, and how much have they said?
This is where the committee’s investigation intersects with that of the Department of Justice. There are legal issues of how and where some of these people give testimony that I’m not qualified to unravel. Some may be charged with crimes. They probably know who they are.
The leak of the draft order implies that someone felt that leak would benefit them. Others have made the calculation that speaking to the committee benefits them. Information has a time value; as the committee puts the story of January 6 together, new information is more valuable than confirmation of old. Speaking earlier is more helpful to one’s cause (and possibly prison sentence) than speaking later. It’s a variant of the Prisoner’s Dilemma, that game-theory example beloved of political scientists.
Cross-posted to Nuclear Diner