The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol heard from two witnesses Thursday in separate closed-door depositions as the panel shows no signs of relenting its pressure on former President Donald Trump’s confidants.
Former Trump Defense Department official Kash Patel and rally organizer Ali Alexander’s lengthy testimony marks a turnaround for the committee as it overcomes struggles to wrangle uncooperative witnesses.
Mr. Alexander, who the committee claims organized and attended several pro-Trump rallies in the lead-up to Jan. 6., arrived at the deposition flanked by his legal team and told reporters that he planned to cooperate with the panel during the questioning, but said he would invoke his Fifth Amendment privilege if necessary.
The party remained tucked away in the meeting room on the grounds of the Capitol for close to eight hours, emerging for a brief lunch break midday.
At its conclusion, Mr. Alexander described the tone of the questioning as “adversarial.”
“I survived eight hours with the committee,” Mr. Alexander said after his deposition. “I was truthful because I don’t have anything to fear but God.”
Mr. Alexander’s lawyer, Paul D. Kamenar, said the committee posed hundreds of questions during the deposition, which he said his client answered: “as best he could.”
“I think they were satisfied,” Mr. Kamenar said of the committee. “There were a couple of questions about certain documents, and Mr. Alexander said ‘we gave you everything we could find, but we’ll be glad to go back and do some more searching.’”
In his prepared remarks, Mr. Alexander contended that he “had nothing to do with any violence or lawbreaking that happened on January 6.”
“Anyone who suggests I had anything to do with the unlawful activities on January 6 is wrong,” Mr. Alexander said in his prepared remarks. “They’re either mistaken or lying.”
The committee alleges that Mr. Alexander was behind the “One Nation Under God” rally planned to be held on Capitol grounds on Jan. 6 following the conclusion of the “Stop the Steal” rally that preceded the riot.
Despite organizers receiving a permit for the “One Nation Under God” rally, the event did not take place.
The committee also alleges that Mr. Alexander attended several “Stop the Steal-sponsored events” in the lead-up to Jan. 6 and made “repeated references” to “the possible use of violence to achieve the organization’s goals.”
The panel said Mr. Alexander “claimed to have been in communication with the White House and Members of Congress regarding events planned” in the lead up to the Jan. 6 certification of the election.
Mr. Alexander denies any connection to the rioting.
“Stop-the-Steal held 500 rallies in 50 states and not one turned violent, he said. “And on January 6, the media has misreported and said that our event participated in ransacking of the Capitol building, and nothing could be further from the truth.”
Later Thursday, Mr. Patel, who worked at the White House under President Trump before moving the Pentagon, appeared for a separate deposition before the committee.
Mr. Patel did not take questions before entering the conference room but said he has “always been willing to share with the Committee, and the American people, the truth about the events of January 6” in a statement released Thursday evening.
“Though I have had major concerns about the fairness of the proceedings, I appeared to answer questions to the best of my ability,” he said.
Mr. Patel was scheduled to appear for a deposition before the committee in October, but the panel later agreed to postpone the appearance.
The committee alleges that Mr. Patel was “involved in discussions with senior [Department of Defense] officials regarding the planning for security at the Capitol,” on Jan. 6 while serving as the chief of staff to acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller.
The committee issued its subpoena to Mr. Patel in September. Committee leaders later described Mr. Patel as “engaging” with the probe. Thursday’s meeting was not announced by the committee beforehand.
The committee has continued to face challenges in gaining compliance from key witnesses.
Former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows on Wednesday sued House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and members of the committee for relief from two subpoenas that he says are “overly broad and unduly burdensome.”
Mr. Meadows, who served under former President Donald Trump, withdrew his cooperation with the investigation on Tuesday — just over a week after signaling that he would comply with the panel’s demands for documents and testimony — after the two parties failed to reach an agreement on terms.
Committee Chairman Bennie G. Thompson, Mississippi Democrat, and Vice-Chair Liz Cheney, Wyoming Republican, criticized Mr. Meadows’ lawsuit in a statement late Wednesday and announced Thursday that the committee would meet next week to vote to hold Mr. Meadows in contempt.