Thursday marked the first time a member of President Donald Trump’s own family officially became roped into the Capitol riot committee’s investigation of the January 6 attack.
Ivanka Trump, eldest daughter of the former president, was notified that the committee will seek her voluntary testimony regarding the events of January 6 and the actions taken by her father as the riot unfolded.
As a White House adviser who joined the Trump White House in early 2017, Ms Trump is one of the longest-serving Trump aides whose testimony has been requested. She issued a defiant statement in response which sought to minimise her participation and suggested that she would resist the committee’s request absent a subpoena.
The committee’s request, as well as Ms Trump’s own statement in response to their letter, revealed a number of important details not just about the current scope and focus of lawmakers on the panel but Ms Trump’s mindset and potentially the feelings of other members of the ex-president’s inner circle.
Here are a few things we can reflect on from today’s news:
A play-by-play of Donald Trump’s actions during the riot remains the panel’s top priority
In both the committee’s statement on Thursday and recent comments to the news media, members of the January 6 panel have made it clear that they have evidence to suggest that Ivanka Trump was one of just a few people in direct contact with the president as the riot unfolded.
Said Chairman Bennie Thompson: “Testimony obtained by the Committee indicates that members of the White House staff requested your assistance on multiple occasions to intervene in an attempt to persuade President Trump to address the ongoing lawlessness and violence on Capitol Hill.”
Rep Liz Cheney, the committee’s vice chair, added in an interview with ABC News that she and her colleagues have “firsthand testimony that … Ivanka went in at least twice to ask him to ‘please stop this violence’” during the attack.
The request for Ms Trump’s testimony means the panel’s current focus is learning exactly what she said to her father in those moments, and why the president was ignoring advice from his own staff to intervene either through a request for the National Guard’s deployment or a call for his supporters to leave the building.
Missing in action: Jared Kushner, senior adviser
Ivanka Trump did not join the White House alone; Jared Kushner, her husband and the president’s son-in-law, arrived in Washington at the same time and took a position in his father-in-law’s administration as a senior adviser who was tasked with numerous high-profile issues over the course of 2017-2020.
But he was nowhere to be found in the committee’s request for information from Ms Trump on Thursday, and the committee has yet to mention his name in any serious capacity before now either. As the committee typically sends out requests for information to multiple potential witnesses at the same time when they are seeking testimony for related reasons, the development suggests that Mr Kushner’s activities and insights are not particularly of interest to the lawmakers.
That would track with reporting from 2021 which suggested that the formerly close aide and member of Mr Trump’s closest circle of confidantes had taken a clear step back from engaging with his boss/wife’s father in the days following the 2020 election as Mr Trump embraced a wide range of conspiracies about his defeat to Joe Biden.
Ivanka deflects blame, and in doing so reveals her thinking
The former president’s eldest daughter responded to the January 6 committee on Thursday within minutes of the lawmakers’ request for information becoming public knowledge.
In a brief statement to NBC News, a spokesman for Ms Trump said: “Ivanka Trump just learned that the January 6 Committee issued a public letter asking her to appear. As the Committee already knows, Ivanka did not speak at the January 6 rally.
“As she publicly stated that day at 3:15pm, ‘any security breach or disrespect to our law enforcement is unacceptable. The violence must stop immediately. Please be peaceful.’”
The statement was strange for two reasons. Number one, and most obviously, the committee’s letter mentioned nothing about the rally on the Ellipse which took place just before the Capitol was attacked; while the president’s remark urging his fans to “fight like hell” at that rally has been blamed for encouraging his supporters to storm the Capitol, it is not the committee’s sole focus nor is it the reason why lawmakers are seeking information from Ms Trump.
But the statement from her spokesman reveals one crucial fact: Ivanka Trump clearly sees some reason to distance herself from the rally at the Ellipse, and the remarks her own father made to his supporters as the attack on the Capitol began.
That suggests that she, if forced to testify, could be coaxed into saying that she believes the remarks made by the president that day were at least partially responsible for the bloody assault on members of Capitol police and the Capitol complex itself.
Ivanka sided with Mike Pence over her father when it came to Electoral College objections
One of the most startling revelations from the committee’s most recent releases of information is the fact that Ivanka Trump apparently indicated to former national security adviser Keith Kellogg that she agreed with Vice President Mike Pence’s decision to not interfere in the counting of the Electoral College votes.
In testimony from Mr Kellogg to the committee released in part by lawmakers on Thursday, the retired general recounted how the first daughter had turned to him and complimented the vice president as a “good man” after a phone call in which her father berated Mr Pence for refusing to interfere in the election process, as his allies had been lobbying Mr Pence to do.
Coupled with her husband’s reluctance to engage with the president after November 2020, it suggests a rift within the Trump family itself over whether the 2020 election was “stolen” and the former president’s campaign to overturn his defeat.
The White House’s connections to ‘crazy people’ are being investigated
Near the end of the committee’s request for information from Ms Trump was a line that revealed another focus of the panel’s work: The effort to determine the extent of the communications between White House staffers and supporters of the election theft conspiracies in the days and weeks after the riot occurred.
That appears to have been sparked from a text obtained by the committee between Fox News host Sean Hannity and Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary, in which Hannity told the aide that the president needed to stop being exposed to “crazy people” and supporters of fraud theories.
In the committee’s letter, lawmakers write that they have obtained “information suggesting that White House staff and others were attempting to persuade President Trump to halt his statements regarding a ‘stolen election’ and were working directly with other supporters outside the White House in an effort to persuade President Trump to do so.”
“The Select Committee would like to discuss this effort after January 6th to persuade President Trump not to associate himself with certain people, and to avoid further discussion regarding election fraud allegations,” read the committee’s letter.
Much of the committee’s focus up until now has been on the day of the riot itself as well as the weeks leading up to it; this is the first confirmation in weeks that the panel is still focused at least partially on the president’s final weeks and potentially his post-presidential activities.