Committees are a key part of how Congress operates, providing an avenue for members to pursue specific policy goals with the support of their peers. Most committees have a designated chairman who is responsible for running meetings, keeping discussion on the appropriate topic, recognizing members to speak, and confirming what the committee has decided (through voting or by unanimous consent). Some committees use more formal procedures, while others are less structured. The level of formality often depends on the work the committee is tasked with and whether the panel is subject to open meeting laws.
The House Intelligence Committee is taking a new approach to its investigation into the Jan. 6 rioting on Capitol Hill. The panel’s top Democrat, Rep. Adam Schiff, has a reputation for being a strong public speaker and willing to go toe-to-toe with Republicans in rhetoric. He’s also a trusted confidant of Nancy Pelosi and is often mentioned as a potential successor should the House Democratic leader eventually step down.
During public hearings, Schiff has taken an aggressive approach to questioning witnesses and isn’t shy about taking on the GOP chair of the select committee, Rep. Jim Jordan, who has accused the panel of being partisan. The panel is also using its investigative tools to target other Republican lawmakers, including the sons of former Vice President Dick Cheney and ex-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.
Many of the witnesses have exercised their Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination and refused to testify. But the committee has found evidence of multiple conspiracies involving Trump, his team and his aides. The panel outlines 17 findings in its report summary that it believes warrant criminal referrals.
More than 30 people — including Hope Hicks, former White House communications director, and lawyers for the president, Kenneth Chesebro and Rudy Giuliani — have also opted not to testify. But the committee says it has evidence that proves they were involved in planning the rioting.
The panel’s report is the culmination of months of work by staff investigators and a series of public hearings. The investigation has also included testimony from more than 100 witnesses, and the panel has used its subpoena powers to compel testimony from others. The committee will now provide its results in a report to its parent body, the House of Representatives. The panel will also hold a ceremony Nov. 16 to honor the 2023 recipients of its International Press Freedom Awards. These journalists have endured years of legal challenges, imprisonment and threats of extreme violence to report stories crucial to their communities and the world at large. They are the voices that bring democracy to life.