Jan. 6 panel faces major choices about Trump as investigation enters final phase
Donald Trump January 6, 2021 (Screen Grab)

The House select committee faces five crucial choices as their eight-month investigation of the Jan. 6 insurrection enters its final phase.

The nine-member panel has found strong evidence that Donald Trump broke the law in his effort to overturn his 2020 election loss, and now they must decide whether to ask the twice-impeached former president to testify -- which would no doubt set off a complicated legal and political fight, reported Politico.

"The committee is almost certain to seek testimony from Trump himself; it has long been seen as a fait accompli," the website reported. "While members of the panel have treaded cautiously around the question of whether to call the former president, it’s clear through court filings — and one landmark ruling by a federal judge — that their probe has revealed compelling evidence he broke the law in his efforts to prevent the peaceful transfer of power."

Investigators must also decide whether to ask former vice president Mike Pence to tell them about his final phone conversation with Trump, shortly before the rally at the Ellipse that preceded the attack, but they already have witness testimony from former national security aide Keith Kellogg about Trump's final effort to get him to stop the certification of Joe Biden's win.

"But there’s no public record of Pence’s side of the call, including how he responded to Trump’s last-ditch pressure," Politico reported. "[Former chief of staff Marc] Short said Pence had made clear for weeks he had no authority to reverse the election results, but the direct — and last — Jan. 6 exchange between Trump and Pence remains hazy."

The committee may seek testimony from Speaker Nancy Pelosi or Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, who collectively oversaw Capitol security, in large part to preemptively push back on an investigation Republicans have promised to open if they retake the majority in November.

"House investigators’ decision on Pelosi is particularly consequential because she’s been the target of a months-long string of attacks by Republican lawmakers who have sought, without basis, to portray her as singularly responsible for the failures of Capitol security on Jan. 6," Politico reported. "Trump has amplified particularly brazen attacks on Pelosi, who herself was targeted by many of the rioters who breached the building."

The panel hasn't decided what to do with three Republican lawmakers -- House minority leader Kevin McCarthy and Reps. Scott Perry and Jim Jordan -- who have refused to voluntarily testify, although committee chairman Bennie Thompson said they would not likely face subpoenas.

Even as the probe draws closer to a conclusion, more evidence continues to pour in from the National Archives and court wins open up new avenues of investigation that could last for weeks or months -- even as public hearings are expected to begin next month.