Former US President Donald Trump has said he will hold a news conference on January 6, on the first anniversary of the riots that attacked the Capitol to protest his electoral loss, repeating unfounded claims about election fraud.
With a congressional panel investigating the riots seeking answers from several of his associates, a defiant Trump slammed the committee on Tuesday, calling the attack on the Capitol a “completely unarmed protest of the rigged election”.
Trump’s supporters had violently breached the Capitol on January 6 to prevent the certification of President Joe Biden’s victory, halting procedures and sending lawmakers into hiding. Five people, including a Capitol police officer, died during or in the aftermath of the incident.
Brian Sicknick, the officer, had confronted protesters, but authorities say he died of natural causes after suffering two strokes. One of Trump’s supporters was fatally shot on the day as she attempted to cross into a restricted area inside the Capitol.
Democrats have said the riots amount to an insurrection that aimed to violently reverse the election result and keep Trump in power. The House of Representatives impeached Trump in his final days in office, accusing him of inciting the violence.
“Why isn’t the Unselect Committee of highly partisan political hacks investigating the CAUSE of the January 6th protest, which was the rigged Presidential Election of 2020?” Trump said in a statement on Tuesday referring to the congressional probe.
Throughout his statement, Trump reiterated false allegations of election irregularities. For example, the former president said the 2020 election numbers were “horrendously corrupt in Detroit”, a nearly 80 percent Black city, where he actually received almost 5,000 more votes than in 2016.
“I will be having a news conference on January 6th at Mar-a-Lago to discuss all of these points, and more,” Trump said, referring to his Florida resort.
The ex-president’s statement came as the congressional panel, formally known as the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol, zeroes in on many of his associates, seeking documents and testimonies.
The committee announced on Monday that it requested information from Republican Congressman Scott Perry, of Pennsylvania, in the first public effort to probe the possible involvement of a sitting lawmaker in the January 6 events.
“At this time, the Select Committee seeks your voluntary cooperation in addressing each of these issues,” Committee chairman Bennie Thompson said in a letter to Perry.
“We also ask that you provide us with all relevant electronic or other communications on these and other topics related to January 6th, including your communications with the Trump legal team, the former President himself, and others who were involved in planning the events of January 6th.”
Steve Bannon, an ally and former adviser to Trump, is facing criminal contempt charges that carry up to a one-year jail sentence, for rejecting the committee’s requests for information.
Earlier this month, the House also voted to hold former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark and ex-Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows in contempt of Congress, but the duo have not been indicted by the Justice Department.
Meadows responded by suing the committee as well as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, calling the congressional subpoenas he faced “unlawful and unenforceable”.
Trump himself has refused to turn over documents to the committee, claiming executive privilege from his time as president – an argument that a federal court of appeals has rejected.
“The Committee is investigating a singular event in this nation’s history, in which there is a sufficient factual predicate for inferring that former President Trump and his advisors played a materially relevant role,” a US Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, DC ruled on December 9.
Federal prosecutors have indicted hundreds of suspected rioters over the January 6 events with charges ranging from entering a restricted building to assaulting police officers.