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Opening with testimony from one of the first Capitol police officers brutalized by the White supremacist mob and a British filmmaker tracking the hate group Proud Boys, the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol held its first public hearings live on primetime T.V. on Thursday highlighting the role Trump played.
Over a year after disgraced twice-impeached former president Donald Trump incited thousands of far-right extremists to descend on the nation’s Capitol, Thursday’s public hearing marks the first of a series the bipartisan committee has scheduled to inform the American people of its findings.
“I’m from a part of the country where people justify the acts of slavery, the Ku Klux Klan and lynchings…I hear voices today trying to justify the actions of the insurrection on January 6 2021,” Chairman Benny Thompson (D-Miss.) said as he began the hearing.
Explaining the magnitude of the oath swearing to “defend the Constitution from all enemies foreign and domestic,” Rep. Thompson illustrated how the attack on the Capitol sought to interrupt the counting of electoral votes in order to stop the peaceful transfer of power.
He explained how President Lincoln, a Republican president, upheld his duty to hand over power to the duly elected president, followed by over 200 years of presidents following doing the same “until Donald Trump” Rep. Thompson said.
“He lost in the courts, just as he did at the ballot box” Rep. Thompson said, highlining the former president’s blatant attempts to disregard the constitution over a
“Jan 6 was the culmination of an attempted coup” Rep. Thompson said.
Jan. 6 public hearing: Rep. Liz Cheney
Highlighting the bipartisanship of the Committee, the chairman introduced Vice Chair Rep Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming).
“President Trump believed his supporters at the Capitol were doing what they should be doing.” Rep. Cheney said Trump told his advisors during the riot.
The committee showed never before seen footage showing Trump watching television as the deadly riot engulfed the Capitol.
“Trump summoned the mob and lit the flame of the attack” Rep. Liz Cheney said, describing evidence from federal court hearings and social media posts showing the violent rioters were motivated by Trump’s claim that the election was rigged and he was the rightful president. She also claims Trump had a 7-point plan to stay in power.
“I did not see evidence of fraud that would affect the outcome of the election” Trump’s former attorney general William Barr told the committee in a video shared during the public hearing.
The Committee also played a video of Trump’s daughter Ivanka saying she accepted William Barr’s statement as fact.
Rep. Cheney Said Trump lost over 60 cases in federal court, that he ignored his own campaign leadership and White House staff, and invested millions of dollars in campaign funds to purposefully spread false information, convincing millions of Americans to believe the election was rigged.
The Committee also detailed an occasion in which Mike Flynn, Rudy Giuliani and others met in Dec 2020 to discuss the seizure of election machines.
“All hell is going to break loose tomorrow” White supremacist and former Trump advisor Steve Bannon said on his podcast on Jan. 5, 2020, a day before the attempted coup.
“There will come a day when Donald Trump is gone but your dishonor will remain” Cheney said on Thursday to her fellow republicans who continue to support him.
Proud Boys, Oathkeepers led the attack that Trump incited
Ahead of testimony from witnesses, the Committee highlighted Trump’s speech on the day of the insurrection.
“You will never take back our country with weakness, you have to be strong” Trump said in a speech as hundreds of Proud Boys marched on the Capitol around noon.
The Committee then showed video of Proud Boys breaching the Capitol and brutalizing police officers as Congress held a session to certify the electoral votes.
Following the video and a 10 minute recess, the committee swore in two witnesses, Nick Quested, a British documentarian who captured footage of the insurrection, and Officer Caroline Edwards, who was among the first officers who faced the breaching of the capitol by the violent, white mob.
“There were officers on the ground. There was blood. I was slipping in peoples’ blood. It was carnage. It was chaos,” Officer Edwards testified.
The Oathkeepers are an armed anti-government group and the Proud Boys are a white supremacist extremist group.
Filmmaker Nick Quested testified about the documentary he was working on to understand why such a divide exists in the U.S. Quested was filming various rallies in D.C. in December of 2020 when he learned about the Stop the Steal Rally on Jan. 6.
He “observed a large contingent of Proud Boys marching toward the Capitol” and that he documented the crowd turn from protesters to rioters to insurrectionists.
A counsel for the committee said, according to Proud Boys members who were interviewed, membership in the violent, hate group rose after the final presidential debate in which Trump told the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by.”
Proud boys developed a plan to create a leadership structure to carry out the insurrection weeks in advance. Meanwhile, the Oathkeepers planned to block the transfer of power and allegedly said the country wouldn’t make it through the insurrection “without a civil war” Investigators say the group set up “quick reaction forces” outside the city just incase trump invoked the insurrection act.
Members of both groups have pled guilty to crimes associated with the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. Yet, other than being fined for disobeying a subpoena, Donald Trump has so far faced no criminal penalties for his leading role in inciting a violent overthrow of the United States government.
Following the first live public hearing, Trump responded on his social media platform Truth Social.
“So the Unselect Committee of political HACKS refuses to play any of the many positive witnesses and statements, refuses to talk of the Election Fraud and Irregularities that took place on a massive scale, and decided to use a documentary maker from Fake News ABC to spin only negative footage,” Trump said. “Our Country is in such trouble!”
The next public hearing is scheduled for Monday, June 13.