Revelations from the Jan. 6 committee shown during primetime hearing
“Jan. 6 and the lies that led to insurrection have put two-and-a-half centuries of Constitutional democracy at risk,” said Rep. Bennie Thompson
The U.S. House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol held its primetime hearing Thursday and laid out its case showing why members believe former President Donald Trump was at the center of a conspiracy to attempt to stay in power after losing the 2020 election based on their findings.
The hearing included previously unseen footage from the attack and evacuation of the Capitol, as well as footage from the committee’s interviews. Caroline Edwards, a U.S. Capitol Police officer who defended the Capitol, and Nick Quested, a British documentary filmmaker who filmed members of the extremist group the Proud Boys, testified.
Committee chair Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said what happened on Jan. 6 was the culmination of an attempted coup.
“Jan. 6 and the lies that led to insurrection have put two-and-a-half centuries of Constitutional democracy at risk,” he said.
Judge David O. Carter of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California said in a March ruling the committee quoted from that if Trump’s plan had worked “it would have permanently ended the peaceful transition of power, undermining American democracy and the Constitution.”
Here are some of the details we learned in the hearing:
Ivanka Trump did not believe the election was stolen
The committee showed footage of its interview with former Attorney General Bill Barr, who used an expletive to describe Trump’s false claims the election was stolen. Barr said he “repeatedly told the president in no uncertain terms that I did not see evidence of fraud,” adding, “frankly, a year-and-a-half later I haven’t seen anything to change my mind on that.”
Ivanka Trump said in her interview that Barr influenced her view.
“It affected my perspective,” she said. “I respect Attorney General Barr, so I accepted what he said and what he was saying.”
Trump’s words led to increased membership among an extremist group
Proud Boys members said in interviews that Trump’s call for Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by” during his debate with then-candidate Joe Biden led to an exponential increase in membership and that members responded to his call to come to Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6.
Members of the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, another right-wing extremist group, set up “quick response squads” of weapons near Washington, D.C. in case Trump invoked the Insurrection Act, and it was members of the Proud Boys who initiated the breach of the Capitol, the committee found.
The White House had advanced knowledge of potential for violence
Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., said the White House received “specific reports in the days leading up to Jan. 6, including during President Trump’s Ellipse rally, indicating that elements in the crowd were preparing for violence at the Capitol.” She said more evidence would be shown in future hearings.
Trump said Pence deserved to be hanged
“Aware of the the rioters’ chants to hang Mike Pence, the president responded with this sentiment, ‘maybe our supporters have the right idea.’ Mike Pence ‘deserves it,’” Cheney reported.
Trump “refused for hours” to call for defense of the Capitol
Cheney said Trump “place no call to any element of the U.S. government to instruct that the Capitol be defended,” including his Secretary of Defense, Secretary of homeland Security, or the National Guard.
Cheney said Trump sat watching television in the dining room next to the Oval Office as the attack unfolded, and she said the committee would show evidence of how Trump “refused for hours to do what his staff, his family, and many of his other advisors begged him to do: immediately instruct his supporters to stand down and evacuate the Capitol”
Leaders on Capitol Hill, including Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, “begged the president for help,” Cheney said. McCarthy was scared and “called multiple members of President Trump’s family when he could not persuade the president himself.”
Members of Trump’s administration thought he was a danger
Cheney said the public would in future hearings “hear about members of the Trump cabinet discussing the possibility of involving the 25th Amendment, which provides for the replacement of the president.”
Republicans including Rep. Scott Perry asked for pardons
Cheney said Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., “contacted the White House in the weeks after Jan. 6 to seek a presidential pardon” as did other Republican lawmakers.
“Multiple other Republican congressmen also sought presidential pardons for their roles in attempting to overturn the 2020 election,” Cheney said.
Perry spokesperson Jay Ostrich denied Perry asked for a pardon, telling Axios in a statement it was a “laughable, ludicrous and a thoroughly soulless lie.”
Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., said on Fox News Thursday “these hearings are no more than an attempt to change the narrative” and that it “will do nothing to ensure that the Capitol is more secure in the future.”
“The issues that matter to the American people right now, that I hear about from my constituents, inflation, sky-high gas prices, the border crisis, the baby formula shortage,” Stefanik said. “That’s what the American people care about and Democrats know that they are losing on all those issues.”