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Jan. 6 committee member Rep. Pete Aguilar on Thursday's hearing

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

To the vote today to subpoena a president. The House January 6 committee wants to question former President Trump over his role in the Capitol insurrection.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BENNIE THOMPSON: Those in favor will say aye.

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: Aye.

THOMPSON: Those oppose no. In the opinion of the chair, the ayes have it.

KELLY: The vote was unanimous, and it came at the very end of today's hearing in which the panel presented a constellation of evidence, some old, some new, all of it aimed at showing that Trump was fully aware he had lost the election, yet continued to discredit the results and direct an armed mob to the Capitol. Joining me now is one of the committee members, Democratic Congressman Pete Aguilar of California. Congressman, welcome.

PETE AGUILAR: Thanks for having me, Mary Louise.

KELLY: The subpoena - president - former President Trump has weighed in, weighing in about the timing, asking in a post on his platform Truth Social, asking, why did the committee wait till the very end, the very final moments of their last meeting? Because, he wrote, the committee is a total bust. He went on to say "a laughing stock all over the world," end quote. Congressman, I guess that might give a little bit of a tip as to how likely he is to cooperate with the subpoena. What are you expecting?

AGUILAR: Well, I don't know if we can take anything from the president's tweets based on past history. But I will say that, you know, we put a lot of thought behind this. I think the former president's, you know, answer would probably be the same whether we did this earlier in the year or we did this today. The facts are very clear that, you know, we have done over a thousand interviews. We pledged to the American public that we were going to get to the bottom of what happened. In order to do that, we feel that we need to hear directly from him because all roads have pointed to Donald Trump.

KELLY: And as I mentioned, the vote was unanimous. But our Capitol Hill team is reporting that y'all did debate it intensely. What were the pros and cons?

AGUILAR: Whenever the nine of us get together and have conversations about where the committee is going, there's always, you know, discussion. You know, because all of us feel strongly about protecting democracy. But there are rarely any disagreements among the nine of us on where we go. And there were - you know, there was not, you know, disagreements with this decision. You know, we feel that it's in the best interest of the committee. We feel that it meets the moment and does exactly what we pledged to do, which is to get to the bottom...

KELLY: Was there discussion over issues of separation of power?

AGUILAR: The history has shown that past - former presidents have provided testimony to Congress. Some have been subpoenaed. Some have been subpoenaed by Congress. A couple of presidents subpoenaed - former presidents have been subpoenaed by Congress and come before us, many presidents - I think the list is seven - who have provided testimony in some way to Congress. So this is not unprecedented at all. In fact, it would be unprecedented if we didn't do our job and if we didn't seek to turn over every rock to find out what happened on that violent insurrection, or if we gave the former president a pass to not share his side of the story.

KELLY: What's your No. 1 question for him?

AGUILAR: Well, we're not going to get into - we'll see - we'll see how that goes. But, I mean, clearly, the committee has been, you know, very clear. Why didn't he do anything? Why didn't he do anything to try to help those of us who were here at the Capitol? The record has shown that he knew there was going to be violence. Yet, for 187 minutes, he was in the White House not lifting a finger while law enforcement was getting pummeled on the - on each side of the Capitol. That's one of the many questions we have.

KELLY: So questions about timing, questions about state of mind, which I know is what you focused your statements on today. Well, we shall see how that all plays out. And we appreciate your joining us today. Thank you, Congressman.

AGUILAR: Thanks, Mary Louise.

KELLY: That is California Representative Pete Aguilar, a Democrat, serving on that House January 6 panel. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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Megan Lim
Christopher Intagliata is an editor at All Things Considered, where he writes news and edits interviews with politicians, musicians, restaurant owners, scientists and many of the other voices heard on the air.
Mary Louise Kelly is a co-host of All Things Considered, NPR's award-winning afternoon newsmagazine.