Jan. 6 committee puts Trump back at center of midterms: The Note

Post-insurrection, the lawmakers' task has been making him the issue.

October 14, 2022, 6:01 AM

The TAKE with Rick Klein

The subpoena is not about getting former President Donald Trump to testify -- which almost certainly won't happen with 10 weeks or so left in this Congress and, in all likelihood, in the existence of the House Jan. 6 committee that voted on Thursday to issue it.

It is about keeping pressure and attention on what the committee's true task has been since the beginning: making Trump the issue, by highlighting the actions and inactions around the insurrection that almost no one in public life is willing to defend.

"He is the one person at the center of the story of what happened on Jan. 6," committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said at the close of Thursday's hearing.

In many ways, the former president is also at the center of the story of what is happening now and in the run-up to Nov. 8. He shaped a midterm field and the issues that candidates have emphasized; rooted out or spooked Republicans he perceived as disloyal; and is arguably more popular inside of his party than President Joe Biden is inside of his.

Still, the committee -- including the two Republican House members who are leaving Congress at the beginning of next year -- presented evidence throughout its hearings that made clear the importance of accountability. That could be on the legal front -- the hearing took place on the same day that the Supreme Court unanimously turned away a key Trump challenge on the classified documents case -- and, perhaps just as importantly, in the political realm.

Relatively few House candidates are running heavily on Jan. 6 messaging. The issue is more prevalent and resonant in statewide races, including in Arizona, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

But the broader frame outlined by Biden around "MAGA Republicans" and what they might do in power unites Democrats and brings urgency to an untold number of races. If that's at the center of the final weeks of midterm campaigning, Biden and his party stand a chance of limiting losses -- and perhaps make it less likely that Trump runs again.

PHOTO: A video of U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi speaking with Vice President Mike Pence during the Capitol Riot is played in Washington, Oct. 13, 2022.
A video of U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi speaking with Vice President Mike Pence during the Capitol Riot is played during a hearing by the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Oct. 13, 2022.
Alex Wong/Getty Images

The RUNDOWN with Averi Harper

In Georgia, high-stakes debates and campaigning converge as the Peach State's polling places prepare for the start of early voting.

A much-anticipated matchup between the Senate candidates, Republican Herschel Walker and incumbent Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock, will take place Friday night. So far, it is slated to be the only time the pair face off before Election Day.

It will also be the first debate for Walker, who skipped debating his GOP primary opponents and who has recently denied claims that he paid for the abortion of an ex-girlfriend who is the mother of one of his children. (Walker is running as staunchly anti-abortion.) Walker has carefully downplayed expectations versus Warnock, a longtime public speaker and noted pastor: "I'm this country boy, I'm not that smart," Walker has said.

In a pre-debate statement, his campaign previewed possible lines of attack on inflation, crime and immigration.

"It is critical they know who Raphael Warnock really is and how he consistently put Joe Biden ahead of Georgia," said Walker campaign spokesman Will Kiley.

It isn't clear if Warnock will directly attack Walker on the aforementioned abortion claim, but Warnock's campaign said the former football star will have to "defend out-of-step positions and lies to the people of Georgia."

"The debate will put on full display the clear choice between Reverend Warnock and Herschel Walker, whose pattern of lies, disturbing behavior, and positions prove he is not ready to represent Georgia in the U.S. Senate," said Warnock campaign manager Quentin Fulks.

Elsewhere on Friday, first lady Jill Biden will speak at an event in the state for Democratic gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams, who was absent when President Biden visited the state earlier this year. That caused some to question if it was an intentional effort to distance herself from the president and his dismal approval numbers, which Abrams adamantly denied. She and incumbent Republican Gov. Brian Kemp will debate on Monday.

Both face-offs will be fresh in the minds of Georgia voters who can cast ballots as early as Monday at early voting sites.

Senator Rev. Raphael Warnock speaks to supporters during his campaign tour in Columbus, Ga., Oct. 8, 2022.
Megan Varner/Getty Images

The TIP with Alisa Wiersema

President Biden's Friday visit to Oregon is set to feature a departure from the typical campaign opportunities he's participated in throughout the 2022 midterm cycle. Biden is expected to attend what the White House is billing as "a grassroots volunteer event with the Oregon Democrats," rather than conducting the typical fundraising and rallying appearances closer to home that he's taken part in so far.

The Oregon appearance is likely to spotlight the state's gubernatorial race where Democrats are at risk of losing supporters to a third-party challenger, despite Democrats having been in control of the governor's mansion since 1986.

As reported by FiveThirtyEight, independent Betsy Johnson, a former state legislator who served for nearly two decades as a Democrat, is attracting voters by presenting herself as a median between her opponents while outraising both Republican Christine Drazan and Democrat Tina Kotek.

The third-party threat is also emerging in Utah, where incumbent Sen. Mike Lee recently urged his Republican colleague, Sen. Mitt Romney, for an endorsement while facing off in a tightening race against independent challenger Evan McMullin. Although Republicans have a winning track record in Utah, the race has drawn national attention given that Utah Democrats are not advancing a candidate from their own party and are instead supporting McMullin, a Utah native who drew some 21% of the vote when running as an independent in the 2016 presidential race.

"Please get on board, help me win reelection. Help us do that. You can get your entire family to donate to me," Lee said during an appearance on Fox News this week.

After a landslide victory in 2020 in Arizona, incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly could be looking at a tighter contest in this year's matchup against Republican Blake Masters. If that election runs on thin margins, libertarian Marc Victor would likely be a significant factor in the outcome. Although Victor does not have the notoriety of his opponents, his disaffiliation with both Biden and Trump could play well among the state's independent voters.

Democratic nominee Tina Kotek speaks during the gubernatorial debate in Welches, Ore., July 29, 2022.
Jamie Valdez/AP. FILE

Power Trip

"Power Trip" follows 7 young reporters as they chase down candidates in the lead up to the midterms with George Stephanopoulos guiding them along the way.


ABC News' "Start Here" Podcast. "Start Here" begins Friday morning with ABC's Rick Klein explaining the House Jan. 6 committee's vote to subpoena former President Trump for testimony. Then ABC's Alexis Christoforous breaks down the latest inflation numbers. And, one of the three Louisville Jewish mothers who are taking Kentucky's abortion ban to court explains her case. http://apple.co/2HPocUL


  • President Biden travels from Los Angeles to Orange County, California. Afterward, he will deliver remarks on lowering costs for American families at Irvine Valley Community College at Irvine, California.
  • Then, Biden heads to Portland, Oregon, to participate in a grassroots volunteer event with state Democrats.
  • The House is in recess; the Senate is in session.
  • ABC’s “This Week”: Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), Dr. Anthony Fauci Roundtable: Former New Jersey Governor and ABC News Contributor Chris Christie, Former DNC Chair and ABC News Contributor Donna Brazile, New York Times Senior Political Correspondent and author of “Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America” Maggie Haberman, and Associated Press Executive Editor Julie Pace.

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