January 6 Select Committee Report
Introduction and Seven Themes
Introduction to the Report
The final version of the long-awaited report of the Select Committee to look into the Attack on the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, in connection with the certification of Joe Biden’s win as President of the United States, was published in late December 2022. It appeared a few months after an influential conservative group of eight prominent former judges, attorneys and politicians investigated the more than 60 cases filed in Federal and State courts after the election of 2020 alleging fraud in the Presidential election. The result of their investigation, released in mid-July 2022 and entitled Lost, Not Stolen, indicates their conclusion in the title. These conservative Republican jurists and politicians found no credible reason for assertions of massive voter fraud in connection with the 2020 Presidential election.
The conclusion of the January 6 Committee echoes that of the jurists and politicians, even though they had a much broader charge than that group. Their charge was to investigate “the facts, circumstances and causes that led to this attack on the Capitol, the Congress and the Constitution.”
So, they collected data, interviewed witnesses, held multiple public hearings, and drafted and revised their the report for seventeen months before releasing their findings. In a word, the report is massive. The Executive Summary, which in many documents is no more than a page or two, runs to more than 190 pages. The text and appendices of the report itself are another 620 pages. The report is copiously annotated. Its basic thesis is clear from the beginning—that the January 6, 2021 Attack on the US Capitol was the culmination of an effort by outgoing President Trump to try to undermine the results of the 2020 Presidential Election by using several strategies. The remainder of this essay will present those strategies, which will then be discussed more fully in chapters 4-11. 
Post-Election Strategies of President Trump and His Supporters
To Overturn the Election Results
Those strategies, in the order in which they occurred beginning election evening, November 3, 2020, included the following:
First, to proclaim victory in the election on the very night of the election, even before the votes were sufficiently counted in most states. Then when the numbers began favoring Biden in the next two days, to continue to maintain the claim of victory but to add to this claim, often in the most impassioned language, that the election was “stolen.” This was done despite the fact that his closest advisors told the President that it was too early for him to proclaim victory (or concede) on the day of or shortly after the election. Counting of absentee ballots sometimes takes a few days. The Committee presents the testimony or statements of several people who said that the plan falsely to declare victory on election night was part of the President’s pre-planned strategy: first you proclaim victory and then, if it doesn’t seem to be working out that way, you proclaim “fraud” in the election.
Second—a two-part strategy with state officials. One was to pressure state election officials in seven battleground states, where the legislatures were largely controlled by Republicans but the popular vote went to Biden to “find” additional votes for him. Then, two, to convene groups of sympathetic state legislators to urge them to call Special Sessions in their respective states and, if sufficient evidence in their state of fraud could be asserted or claimed, to take over the electoral function from the people and express the people’s will by appointing a pro-Trump slate of electors.
Third, to devise a method by which Republicans in each of the seven battleground states would come up with alternative slates of electors, submit them to the proper officials, and thereby present the problem of competing slates of electors to the Congress when they certified the electoral vote count on January 6, 2021.
Fourth, to replace outgoing Attorney General William Barr with a more junior attorney supportive of President Trump’s efforts who would pressure states not to certify results of the election. This would involve the Federal Department of Justice in an effort to write letters to legislators in these seven battleground or swing states saying that the Department of Justice had found sufficient evidence of fraud in their ballots that they ought not to permit the certification of electors.
Fifth, to pressure the Vice-President, Mike Pence when the Joint Session of Congress convened for the counting of the electoral votes on January 6 to see his role as not just counting votes but making choices as to the legitimacy of certain states of electors. This would entail either disallowing the electoral votes in the seven contested states (all of which were won by Biden) thus giving President Trump the victory or, more likely, declaring that the alternative slates of electors submitted meant that the votes had to be returned to the states to reconsider whether fraud had occurred and to certify the “correct” (i.e., Republican) electors.
Sixth--to call thousands of people, some of them armed and dangerous, to Washington DC on January 6, 2021 and to urge them in an hour-long speech on the Ellipse to march to the Capitol to “take back” the country, which led to the events of the afternoon and early evening of January 6, 2021 at the Capitol.
Seventh—to do nothing in a crucial 187 minutes (1:10 p.m. – 4:17 p.m.) on the afternoon of January 6, after a riot was declared at the US Capitol, either to call off the protestors, or to assure that sufficient police and others were in place to contain and reverse the illegal occupation of the US Capitol.
Then there is an eighth chapter, though not an additional theme, that goes through what the Committee calls an “Analysis of the Attack” on the Capitol on January 6, 2021 in a minute-by-minute fashion. One might see this as a mirror image of the Seventh factor—while the President was being derelict in duty, to use the Committee’s phrase, the people he called to the Capitol were very actively involved in occupying that space, leading to the postponement of the electoral count. Finally the Capitol was cleared of protestors and order was restored so that Congress could resume its work by mid-evening of January 6 and conclude about 3:30 a.m. on January 7.
Questions for Discussion and Further Investigation
Which of the seven post-election strategies of President Trump and his supporters or the “Analysis of the Attack” listed above would you like to study further? Why?
Construct a calendar showing the significant events in the process of electing a President in the United States, from election day (early in November) until Inauguration Day on January 20 of the next year.
Many people know precisely where they were on important days in our recent national history (the assassination of John Kennedy for older people; the 9/11 terrorist attacks for many younger people). Where were you and what were you doing during the hours of the occupation of the US Capitol on January 6, 2021?
Do you know anyone personally who was involved in the events in Washington DC on January 6, 2021?
 In her introductory remarks, Liz Cheney mentions the President’s seven-part strategy to overturn the election result. The Committee Report, however, is organized around eight chapters, though one could argue that there really are seven themes (chapters 1-7) and one “analysis” (chapter 8) to consider. This book will devote one chapter to each of the Committee’s eight chapters. One important additional theme, the filing of 60+ lawsuits in many of the battleground states after the election to try to show fraud in the voting in these states, was not treated at all by the Committee. They no doubt felt that the report noted in the text: Lost, Not Stolen did a sufficiently thorough job that they didn’t need to repeat that work.