The United States House committee investigating the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol held its first prime-time televised hearing Thursday night, detailing the investigation’s findings.
The panel played a new video of closed-door testimony from former President Donald Trump’s staff and portrayed the violence of the Capitol Hill attack.
Thursday’s hearing was the first in a series this month that will highlight findings from the panel’s investigation, which included interviews with more than 1,000 people about how Trump and his team tried to overturn the 2020 election results on multiple fronts.
Although many details have been reported by the CNN and other media, the committee hearings will attempt to tell the story of January 6 to the American people.
Here are the main findings presented at the first hearing:
Visceral images relive the horrors of January 6th
The committee reproduced a compilation of some of the most disturbing footage from the January 6 attack.
The footage included never-before-seen material, including security camera footage that showed the massive pro-Trump crowd starting to storm the Capitol grounds.
The video also showed how the crowd took tips directly from Trump, with one protester reading a tweet from the former president into a megaphone for other supporters to hear.
In the message, Trump criticized Pence for announcing that he would not overturn the 2020 election results while presiding over the joint session of Congress to certify Joe Biden’s victory. The committee montage showed a now-infamous clip of Trump supporters singing “Hang Mike Pence.”
They then showed a photograph of a makeshift gallows that protesters erected near the Capitol, as well as a creepy clip of other supporters shouting “Nancy! Nancy!” as they converged on Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office, looking for her.
These clips immediately harked back to the horrors of January 6, which can easily get lost amid partisan bickering over the committee and its investigation. But underneath that investigation, there was a violent and deadly attack, which injured more than 140 police officers and led to several deaths. The visceral footage served as a haunting reminder of a dark day in US history.
Trump didn’t want the protest to stop
The committee revealed testimony from Trump White House officials who said the former president did not want the attack on the US Capitol to stop, angrily resisted his own advisers who asked him to condemn the protesters and thought his own deputy President “deserved” to be hanged.
It also offers new insight into Trump’s behavior during the riot — something the committee has repeatedly suggested would be a key part of its public hearings.
Panel vice chair Liz Cheney described the testimony of a witness who said Trump was aware of the “Hang Mike Pence” chants and appeared to approve of them.
“Aware of the protesters’ cries to ‘hang Mike Pence’, the president responded with this sentiment: [citação] ‘Maybe our supporters have the right idea.’ Mike Pence [citação] ‘deserve it,'” she said.
Cheney had previously characterized Trump’s inaction on January 6 during the 187 minutes of the attack as an “abandonment of his duty”.
Proud Boys and Oath Keepers in the spotlight
The committee introduced the American public to two of the country’s most militant far-right groups, present on January 6: Proud Boys and Oath Keepers. These groups were in charge of the attack. They were the first to break into the building and are accused of planning violence.
Documentary maker Nick Quested, who testified on Thursday, said he was with the Proud Boys when they converged on Capitol Hill ahead of Trump’s speech, showing that they were not interested in the rally and already had their eyes on the Capitol.
Thompson and Cheney sought to link Trump directly to these extremists, including his comment during a September 2020 debate that the Proud Boys should “brace and wait.” The panel featured new testimonies from Proud Boys leaders on how they saw this as a call to arms.
Federal Justice Department prosecutors have charged 17 members of these groups with seditious conspiracy — an extremely serious allegation that the committee highlighted on Thursday.
A Capitol Police Officer’s Emotional Testimony
US Capitol Police Officer Caroline Edwards was the first to testify, becoming the symbol of violence against security forces that day.
The committee said Edwards was the first officer injured by the protesters. She described pride in her work to “protect the symbol of democracy in the United States” – and the cruel public scrutiny she suffered after she was knocked unconscious and suffered a traumatic brain injury during the attack.
“I was called many things on January 6, 2021 and the following days,” Edwards said. “I was called Nancy Pelosi’s dog, incompetent, hero and villain. I was called a traitor to my country, my house and my constitution. In fact, I was none of those things.”
“I was an American face to face with other Americans asking me how many times – many, many times – how did we get here,” she added. Edwards called herself “the proud granddaughter” of a Navy veteran who fought in the Korean War.
“I’m my grandfather’s granddaughter, proud to wear a uniform and serve my country,” Edwards said. “They dared to question my honor. They dared to question my loyalty.”
Trump team and family turn against him
The committee’s first hearing was reinforced with never-before-seen videos showing members of the White House and the Trump campaign — as well as his daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner — talking about how they didn’t believe Trump’s claims that the election had been stolen.
Former Attorney General William Barr said Trump’s allegations of election fraud were “nonsense”. Ivanka said she respected Barr and “accepted what he was saying” about the election.
Trump spokesman Jason Miller said the campaign data manager told the former president in “pretty blunt terms that he would lose.”
And the committee cited testimony from Trump campaign attorney Alex Cannon, who testified that he told Meadows “in late November” that the campaign had gone awry in trying to find widespread fraud in key states that Trump lost. Cannon said Meadows responded to his assessment by saying, “So there’s nothing there.”
Escape from Republican Representative McCarthy’s Office
One of the new videos the committee released showed employees in the office of House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy running frantically after protesters stormed the Capitol. The clip was notable because of McCarthy’s role on January 6th — and his opposition to the committee.
At the time, McCarthy had a heated phone call with Trump while the riot was in progress. The January 6 committee subpoenaed McCarthy asking for information about the call. And in the days immediately following the attack, McCarthy said Trump “has responsibility” for the attack.
But shortly after the date, McCarthy approached Trump again. He opposed the creation of a commission to investigate the January 6 attack and has repeatedly criticized the committee throughout his investigation.
Thursday’s hearing showed how the panel — and Cheney, who was ousted last year from her GOP leadership position by McCarthy — are focused on the Republican leader.
In his opening statement, Cheney said leaders on Capitol Hill had “begged the president” for help, including McCarthy. She said McCarthy was “scared” and called several members of Trump’s family after failing to persuade Trump.
Pence asked for help – not Trump
The committee also showed a new video of its interview with Chief of Staff Mark Milley, saying that Pence was the one who ordered National Guard troops to respond to the violence on Jan. say that the request came from Trump.
“Vice President Pence – there were two or three calls with the vice president. He was very willing and issued very explicit, very direct and unambiguous orders. There was no doubt about it,” Milley says in the video.
“He was very direct, very firm with Secretary Miller. ‘Bring the military here, bring the guard here. End this situation, etc.,’” he added, referring to Pence.
Milley also described her interactions with Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, that day, drawing a stark contrast between those conversations with Pence.
“He said, we have to kill the narrative that the vice president is making all the decisions. We need to establish the narrative, you know, that the president is still in charge and that things are stable, or words to that effect,” Milley says, referring to what Meadows told him.
Source: CNN Brasil