Transcript: Rep. Pete Aguilar he

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The following is a transcript of an interview with Democratic Rep. Pete Aguilar of California that aired on “Face the Nation” on Sunday, September 25, 2022.


MARGARET BRENNAN: We now turn to January 6th and the congressional investigation into the attack on the Capitol. Joining us is California Democratic Congressman Pete Aguilar, who is on this committee and joins us from Los Angeles. I wish you a good morning.

REP. PETE AGUILAR: Good morning, Margaret.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We had a poll, as you may have heard, that shows that 1/3 of Republicans and half of self-proclaimed MAGA Republicans think the party should plan to contest states and districts that Democrats will win. That’s in November. Seventeen percent of Democrats believe they should challenge if the Republican Party wins. What does that tell you about confidence in the election and the risk of political violence like we saw on January 6?

REP. AGUILAR: It tells me we have more work to do. But it is deeply alarming that we had a former resident of the White House who, whenever the outcome went the other way than he wanted, called it fake news. And he has tried time and time again to undermine our democratic institutions. So it’s no big surprise that some of it has seeped into the American public. But our job is to make sure that we protect democracy and do everything we can to prevent that from happening.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, you have your first public hearing since July, it’s this Wednesday. Politico reports that the hearing is focused on the activities of Vice President Mike Pence. Last night at a festival in Texas, Congresswoman Cheney said the committee was still in talks with adviser Mike Pence, but she was optimistic he had an obligation to appear. Where do you fall on that? Do you need to summon him? Or is it a written testimony that you would accept?

REP. AGUILAR: I think it’s important that we hear from the vice president, but the work of the committee continues. The vice president and I haven’t decided where we’re going to go, specifically, those discussions are still evolving, and if there’s anything to announce, I’m sure the chairman will announce it. But I think more importantly, this hearing that we have on Wednesday will be a continuation of what we heard in June and July, which was that the president played a direct role in trying to undermine our democratic institutions and prevent a peaceful transition. can.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So the focus is not specifically on the vice president?

REP. AGUILAR: I will not go into the content of the hearing that we will have on Wednesday. But I think it’s fair to say that we — the role of the vice president, the pressure that the vice president faced, that was the hearing that I led in June, that was a key focus of the committee’s work. There are new details we’ve essentially learned about the investigation, and we plan to share some of them this week.

MARGARET BRENNAN: To this point, Congressman Cheney said there are 800,000 reports that the committee received from the Secret Service. What’s in those documents? How is the material?

REP. AGUILAR: Well, we appreciate that we have finally begun to obtain the documents that we requested a year ago from the United States Secret Service. It’s still not the text messages discussed earlier, but it appears to be internal communication between employees. So there’s a lot of information that our investigative team went through. We will detail all of this on Wednesday, but it is important that they provide information and that they continue to assist our investigative work to understand exactly what happened on January 5th and January 6th when this rally took place and how the president ordered the crowd, to go to the Capitol.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So the top Secret Service officer on the president’s detail at the time, Tony Ornato, was questioned. He retired over the summer. Can you talk to him now?

REP. AGUILAR: Well, that’s an interview for him and his lawyer. We remain deeply longing- to hear from him. The Secret Service indicated that they would make him available before his retirement, and then he coincidentally left and left. So we feel it is important. He’s been talking to us, but apparently we’ve heard new details since his testimony that we think are important to ask. So he and others remain an important part of our ongoing investigative work.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Are you implying that he retired to avoid having to testify?

REP. AGUILAR: I’m just saying that – the timeline is the timeline. We had interviews to hear him and then he left. So, as a private individual, we’re going to continue to — work with his private counsel to see if — and see if he comes before the committee and shares additional testimony with us.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You mentioned above how critical the committee’s work is. And critics have pointed to the fact that you took a break over the summer as a counterpoint to the fact that it can’t be so immediate when you go away for six weeks. how do you answer that?

REP. AGUILAR: I can assure you that anyone who looks at the calendar of the nine of us on the selection committee will know that we have not left. The investigation team continued its work. They continued to go through the documents you linked to earlier. We continued to investigate, taking statements and testimony from key witnesses. It all happened, it just happened out of the public eye. So we look forward to continuing this discussion – over 20 hours of hearings that we’ve had so far. We look forward to hearing from you this week. But ultimately it is about protecting our democracy. And the final report in the future will have the stamp of the committee on what we do next and what happened and where we go from here and how democracy is precious and worth fighting for.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Congressman Aguilar, we’ll be watching this week. Thank you for your time today. Our CBS coverage of the January 6th investigative hearing begins at 1:00 PM ET. You can see it on Wednesday on our broadcast or streaming network.

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