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Redlands Congressman Pete Aguilar Discusses Participation in Jan. 6 Committee

Official portrait of Redlands U.S. Congressman Pete Aguilar.
Portrait: Office of U.S. Congressman Pete Aguilar
Background Photo: Don Graham / Flickr Creative Commons
Official portrait of Redlands U.S. Congressman Pete Aguilar.

KVCR's Jonathan Linden spoke with Redlands U.S. Congress Pete Aguilar to discuss his participation in the Jan. 6 committee.

Jonathan Linden: You're listening to 91.9 KVCR news, and I'm Jonathan Linden. Congressman Pete Aguilar represents California's 31st Congressional District, which includes the cities of Redlands, San Bernardino, and Rancho Cucamonga. Since July 1st of last year, he's been a member of the select committee investigating the events of January 6th, 2021, at the US Capitol. To start Congressman, can you give our Inland Empire listeners a general overview of what the committee has been up to and what some of your most recent developments have been?

Pete Aguilar: Well, the January 6th committee was constituted to do two things. One is to tell the full and complete story of what happened on January 5th and January 6th, the rallies that led to the interaction. And then the second is to provide the legislative examples and legislative recommendations on exactly what we need to fix here in Congress to make sure that this never happens again. This is important because Inland Empire families and families around the country just want to know that the Republic will stand, and that democracy isn't threatened. And many people have experiences in other countries where this may be normal, or this may be done, but that's not how it's done here. And we need to make sure that we protect the Republic and ensure that this, what happened on January 6th, never happens again in our country.

Jonathan Linden: And can you tell listeners a little bit more about the different information and material that the committee has been observing and looking at?

Pete Aguilar: For the last number of months, the committee has had interviews and testimony; we have made news by giving individuals subpoenas to compel them to come speak before us. All of this has been with the focus to tell the complete narrative, to tell the complete story. We have had over 475 interviews to date, some individuals voluntarily and some, like I said through a subpoena. Each and every interview, it's helpful to aid in our investigation. And that's where we are right now; we are in the investigative stage of our work, we will have a public stage that will be in the short term here, where we will share what we have learned. And we will have open hearings and invite witnesses to come and testify before the committee and ultimately will produce a report that takes into account all of the testimony, all of the interviews, and the public hearings that we have had. And we'll do that, and we'll complete our work in a timely way.

Jonathan Linden: And that leads me to my next question, where on the timeline is the committee? Are you kind of in the middle of things right now? When should residents expect this investigation to be over?

Pete Aguilar: Well, people know that we have our work to do; I think we're all focused on making sure that we do the job correctly. We were created July 1st and added staff directly after that. We are in the investigative stage right now. So, we are still in that gathering of information. We were successful in our court cases and our court challenge. The former president tried to withhold documents that were held at the National Archives. We won that lawsuit. We have won lawsuit after lawsuit that both shows that the committee has a concrete legislative focus and that these documents that we are seeking to obtain are in the national interest. And so, we are gathering those, we're looking through those. And we are having the interviews that are a direct result of those documents. And soon, we will turn the page to the public side of what we do, and we'll be able to share that a little bit more with the country and our communities.

Jonathan Linden: Can you tell listeners a little bit about the comments you made on Wednesday to CNN about Trump tampering with witnesses potentially?

Pete Aguilar: Well, what I said was, you know, the former president said the quiet part out loud. He said that former Vice President Mike Pence should have overturned the election, an election that his administration said was the safest election ever conducted. Those are the things that lead me to believe that he is trying to send a message to individuals who have testified or may testify before our committee. He clearly had a plan and agenda leading up to January 6th, and we want to make sure that we tell that complete story and some of this has been reported on, but I think there are other aspects that we'll share with the public when it's when it's appropriate.

Jonathan Linden: And just last month, your fellow California Congressman Kevin McCarthy released a statement calling the committee illegitimate, saying that the committee's only objective is to attempt to damage its political opponents. What is your exact response to those comments?

Pete Aguilar: You know, time and time again, Kevin McCarthy has had an opportunity to hold the former President accountable. And time and time again, he is taken a pass, and he has done whatever the former president wanted him to do. And even when he mustered the courage to go on the house floor and to say that the President had some responsibility, he walked that back almost immediately thereafter. So, I'm not too concerned about what the Minority Leader is saying about our committee. But I would note we have won the supreme court; federal judges have recently said the January 6th committee is a legal entity and (that we) have the ability to subpoena documents and receive documents and testimony. So, I think that this is just all politics on his part.

Jonathan Linden: And what is your response to some who say it's time to move on from the events of January 6th and that the committee is just a ploy by Democrats to distract from the real issues like inflation and from what some called the crisis at the Mexican border?

Pete Aguilar: I look forward to turning the page and having a legislative focus that is thoughtful and directly focused on the American public and growing Inland Empire jobs, we're doing that now. Congress should be able to do multiple things at the same time, we can deliver help and relief to middle-class families while investigating a violent insurrection at the Capitol. That's what we're doing; we're delivering on an agenda, we're helping families every day, while providing oversight and ensuring, more importantly, accountability. There can't be reconciliation, and there can't be the next steps when we talk about our democracy until we have accountability, and you can't have accountability until we know exactly what happened and people are held to account. And that's what we plan to do.

Jonathan Linden: What is some current legislation that you're working on that would benefit members, not just of your constituency, but the entire Inland Empire community.

Pete Aguilar: We're focused on a number of pieces of legislation that will help Southern California and help Inland Empire families. I'm incredibly proud to work on a bill that would rename a veterans’ facility after former congressman Jerry Lewis. But substantively, we've also been working in a number of ways to help reduce the cost of homeownership for Inland Empire families, working to ensure that there's broader access to FHA home loans for Inland Empire families, it's something that has been and will continue to be a focus of mine. Knowing that many first-time homebuyers and Inland Empire residents use FHA home loans as their first opportunity to become homeowners, we need to make sure that we unlock the economic opportunity of our region, and we can do that by increasing homeownership. And so that's one of the pieces of legislation that I'm proud about, in addition to the community funding projects that we want to deliver directly helping cities and counties and water districts in our region directly in San Bernardino County.

Jonathan Linden: And concerning your participation in the January 6th committee, is there anything else you would like to share with listener's congressman?

Pete Aguilar: What I'd like the public to understand is that our committee is focused on making sure that we preserve democracy. We want to make sure that what happened on January 6th, a violent attack on the Capitol, never happens again. And so, we will investigate, we will be thoughtful, we are working in a nonpartisan way, Democrats and Republicans working on the committee to ensure that we tell the full and complete story and that we hold individuals accountable for their actions.

Jonathan Linden: Well, Congressman Pete Angular, thank you so much for taking some time to speak with me today.

Pete Aguilar: Thank you.

Jonathan Linden was a reporter at 91.9 KVCR in San Bernardino, California. He joined KVCR in July 2021 and served with the station till October 2022.