WASHINGTON – The House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol plans to chronicle at its Thursday hearing all that was happening in Congress and at the White House during the 187 minutes between then-President Donald Trump’s fiery speech and his video encouraging the mob to go home.
Committee members have argued that Trump’s lack of response was a dereliction of duty under the Constitution to protect Congress.
- Thompson by remote: Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson, of Mississippi, who is the chairman of the committee, is attending Thursday’s hearing remotely after testing positive for Covid-19 this week.
- 🎤 Who will testify? The committee will hear from former Trump aides Matthew Pottinger and Sarah Matthews, who each resigned in protest soon after Jan. 6. In addition, the panel will show videotaped depositions from former White House counsel Pat Cipollone; former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson and Greg Jacob, former Vice President Mike Pence’s counsel; who will describe that day in detail.
- 🏛️ Why is this important and what will be said?: While snippets of what happened behind-the-scenes have been revealed through testimony and evidence, there are still large gaps of the day we don’t know about, and the committee has promised more details which could be revealed in Thursday’s “minute by minute” account.
- Taking the lead: The primetime hearing led by two lawmakers who are military veterans — Democrat Elaine Luria, of Virginia, and Republican Adam Kinzinger, of Illinois.
Live timeline of Trump’s actions during the Capitol attack:On Jan. 6, Trump was out of public view as aides urged him to act. A breakdown of those 187 minutes.
A White House security official, who spoke anonymously to the Jan. 6 Committee out of fear of retribution, said security knew that the crowd gathered at Jan. 6 moved from being a “normal, democratic public event” into a security threat.
The security official said that White House security became concerned long before rioters breached the Capitol, as they were aware of multiple reports of weapons in the crowd at the Ellipse for former President Donald Trump’s rally.
“The President wanted to lead tens of thousands of people to the Capitol. I think that was enough grounds for us to be alarmed.”
– Katherine Swartz
Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., said Trump deliberately “chose not to act” as rioters breached the Capitol building because the mob was doing his bidding.
“Why did he not take immediate action in a time of crisis?” Kinzinger said. “Because President Trump’s plan for January 6 was to halt or delay Congress’ official proceedings to count the votes.”
When the mob of rioters entered the Capitol, both the House and Senate were evacuated, delaying the certification of the 2020 election, which Kinzinger said was Trump’s intent.
“The mob was accomplishing President Trump’s purpose. So of course he didn’t intervene,” said Kinzinger. “President Trump did not fail to act during the 187 minutes before leaving the Ellipse and telling the mob to go home. He chose not to act.”
— Kenneth Tran
Ketchup, regrets, blood and anger:A guide to the Jan. 6 hearings’ witnesses and testimony
Rep. Elaine Luria, D-Va., stressed tonight’s main theme: Trump did nothing to object to the insurrection for 187 minutes.
This even though aides urged him to speak out.
“President Trump was being advised, by nearly everyone, to immediately instruct his supporters to leave the Capitol, disperse, and halt the violence,” Luria said.
He did not for more than three hours, she said.
— David Jackson
The committee said the former president refused the advice of his closest aides and family members on Jan. 6, 2021, who urged him to call off the violent mob at the Capitol.
Trump “refused to defend our nation,” Vice Chair Liz Cheney said.
Luria said “virtually everyone told President Trump to condemn the violence in clear and unmistakable terms,” but he chose not to because of his desire to stay in power.
Instead, Luria said the hearing will show, Trump “sat in his dining room and watched the attack on television.”
— Candy Woodall
Who are the Proud Boys?:Extremist group at the center of prime-time Jan. 6 committee hearings
Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., was optimistic about the status of the committee’s investigation, signaling that the committee continues to get more information and get through barriers in the legal system that have stood in the way for the past several months.
“In the course of these hearings, we’ve received new evidence, and new witnesses have bravely stepped forward,” Cheney said. “Efforts to litigate and overcome immunity and executive privilege claims have been successful, and those continue. Doors have opened. New subpoenas have been issued, and the dam has begun to break.”
— Erin Mansfield
The committee’s chairman, Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., opened the hearing by saying that Trump “stopped for 187 minutes” as the attack on the U.S. Capitol happened, unable to be moved from his television to stop the riot he encouraged.
“This man of unbridled destructive energy could not be moved,” said Thompson, who was appearing by video as he recovers from COVID-19. “Not by his aides, not by his allies, not by the violent chants of rioters.”
Thompson said Trump even ignored the pleas of his own family, including his children Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump, to call off the mob.
“He could not be moved to rise from his dining room table and walk a few steps down the White House hallway press briefing room, where cameras were anxiously and desperately waiting to carry his message.”
— Joey Garrison
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Committee Chair Bennie Thompson said there are more hearings to come in September.
“We will reconvene in September to continue laying out our findings to the American people,” he said.
The committee’s investigation ramped up in June, and the panel has continued to collect evidence to prompt the additional sessions.
Rep. Elaine Luria, who was one of the members to lead questioning Thursday night, told reporters earlier in the day that the committee’s investigation was ramping up in light of new evidence.
— Candy Woodall
Several members of the “gallery group” of lawmakers who were trapped in the House chamber are back in the Cannon Caucus room to watch tonight’s proceedings, including Reps. Veronica Escobar of Texas, Lizzie Fletcher of Texas, Sara Jacobs of California, Pramila Jayapal of Washington, Annie Kuster of New Hampshire and Melanie Stansbury of New Mexico.
Kuster said a group went to dinner before coming to the hearing tonight and that they plan on supporting each other during what is expected to be an emotional evening. Kuster said she hopes the public sees just how close rioters came to the members on Jan. 6.
The Capitol and DC police who have attended each hearing are back again tonight, in addition to Serena Liebengood, the widow of Capitol Police Officer Howie Liebengood, and Sandra Garza, the longtime partner of Brian Sicknick, who died after suffering two strokes after fighting off the mob.
– Dylan Wells
WASHINGTON – The Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general has launched a criminal investigation into the destruction of Secret Service text messages sought as part of investigations into the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol attack, an official with knowledge of the matter said Thursday.
A letter notifying the Secret Service of the probe was directed to Director James Murray Wednesday night, said the official who is not authorized to comment publicly on a pending investigation.
The existence of the criminal investigation was first disclosed by NBC News.
In a statement, the Secret Service acknowledged receipt of the inspector general’s letter.
Read the whole story here:Watchdog launches criminal inquiry into deleted Secret Service text messages sought by Jan. 6 panel
Former first lady Melania Trump said she was “unaware” the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection at the Capitol was happening because she was preoccupied with taking archival photos of White House renovations as part of her duties as first lady.
Trump gave her account in an interview Thursday with Fox News after her former chief of staff and onetime White House press secretary, Stephanie Grisham, released text messages last month showing the first lady not approving a drafted statement condemning the attack.
“On January 6, 2021, I was fulfilling one of my duties as First Lady of the United States of America, and accordingly, I was unaware of what was simultaneously transpiring at the U.S. Capitol Building,” Trump said in the interview.
Trump said, “I always condemn violence” and that if she had been informed she would have “immediately denounced the violence that occurred at the Capitol Building.” She added, “And while Ms. Grisham’s behavior is disappointing, it is not surprising or an isolated incident.”
— Joey Garrison
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Rep. Elaine Luria, a former Navy commander, said she and other members of the select House committee will “detail Donald J. Trump’s dereliction of duty” on Jan. 6, 2021.
In the 8 p.m. hearing tonight, the panel will zero in on the 187 minutes from the end of his “Stop the Steal” speech at 1:10 p.m. to his video message at 4:17 p.m., when he told the rioters ransacking the Capitol to go home.
She emphasized Thursday afternoon he also told the violent mob “he loved them.”
Luria compared him to a captain abandoning a ship and said Thursday’s hearing will show in graphic detail his actions and inaction during those crucial three hours.
— Candy Woodall
Who is Mark Meadows?:Meet Trump’s chief of staff who defied Jan. 6 committee subpoena
Trump was glued to the television in the White House dining room as a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, according to testimony previewed by Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., one of the Jan. 6 committee’s members.
“To the best of my recollection, he was always in the dining room,” former Trump press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told the committee.
Kinzinger released a short video Thursday teasing evidence to come during the eighth hearing from the committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol attack. Committee members are expected to zero in on the 187 minutes between Trump’s speech that morning and his tweet for rioters to go home.
Keith Kellogg, Trump’s former national security advisor, and Molly Michael, former executive assistant to the president, both told the committee that Trump was watching television as the Capitol came under assault. Former White House attorney Pat Cipollone told the committee the violence from the attack was visible on the television as Trump watched.
– Joey Garrison
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The committee will scrutinize events from 1:10 p.m. EDT, when Trump stopped speaking at his rally near the White House, until 4:17 p.m., when he posted a tweet with a video urging rioters to go home.
The committee pieced together testimony from more than 1,000 witnesses and 100,000 pages of documents. But gaps remain. For example, White House logs show no calls placed to or by Trump from 11:17 a.m. to 6:54 p.m. on Jan. 6.
“He was doing nothing to actually stop the riot,” a committee member, Rep. Elaine Luria, D-Va., told CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday. “We will go through pretty much minute by minute during that time frame, from the time he left the stage at the Ellipse, came back to the White House, and really sat in the White House, in the dining room, with his advisers urging him continuously to take action, to take more action.”
Two new witnesses expected to testify each resigned in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 attack, along with cabinet secretaries and a special envoy to Northern Ireland.
Sarah Matthews was a deputy press secretary and Matthew Pottinger, who was a deputy national security adviser. Both were disturbed by Trump’s tweet at 2:24 p.m. calling Vice President Mike Pence a coward. Pence had refused to single-handedly reject electoral votes for President Joe Biden, as Trump and his lawyers had urged.
“It was clear that it was escalating and escalating quickly,” Matthews said in a videotaped deposition played at the June 16 hearing. “The situation was already bad, and so it felt like he was pouring gasoline on the fire by tweeting that.”
Big question for Jan. 6 committee:Did Trump aide Mark Meadows help stop – or fuel – the insurrection?
The Jan. 6 committee chair, Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., will lead the hearing remotely after announcing Tuesday he was diagnosed with COVID-19. He said in a statement he was experiencing mild symptoms despite being fully vaccinated.
Reps. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., and Elaine Luria, D-Va., will oversee the presentation of evidence. Members of the nine-member committee have taken turns during the eight hearings in June and July leading the questioning of witnesses or introducing videotaped depositions and documentary evidence.
Political organizations go on attack on Trump before Jan. 6 hearing
Political action committees and public interest groups are preparing for tonight’s Jan. 6 hearing by releasing videos, reports, and statements seeking to promote their case against Donald Trump.
- The Lincoln Project, the organization created by Republicans to oppose Trump’s re-election campaign in 2020, released a video Thursday describing the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection as a Trump-directed effort to stay in power.
- Just Security, an online forum for national security, foreign policy, and human rights issues, released an update of its “Criminal Evidence Tracker,” summarizing testimony from previous hearings of the Jan. 6 committee. Said the report: “The House January 6th Select Committee hearings have presented powerful, compelling evidence that former President Donald Trump led a criminal conspiracy to steal the 2020 presidential election.”
– David Jackson
The committee subpoenaed Secret Service texts Friday for Jan. 5 and 6, 2021, but the service replied the texts were deleted in a routine swap of staffers’ phones.
Former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson testified she heard from Anthony Ornato, then-White House deputy chief of staff for operations, that Trump tried to grab the wheel of his vehicle and lunged for an officer while trying to join the mob at the Capitol. Secret Service officials said witnesses have volunteered to testify, to challenge aspects of the testimony.
“I was shocked to hear that they didn’t back up their data before they reset their iPhones. That’s crazy,” Rep. Zoe Lofgren, a member of the committee, told ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday. “But we need to get this information to get the full picture.”
The federal trial against Steve Bannon, a political strategist for Trump, began Monday. Bannon was charged with contempt after defying a House subpoena for documents and testimony. He faces 30 days in jail and a $100,000 fine on each of the two charges, if convicted.
The committee wants to ask Bannon about two calls he had with Trump on Jan. 5, 2021.
After the first call, Bannon said on his podcast, “All hell is going to break loose tomorrow.” The two spoke again for six minutes, but the contents of the call are unknown.
The Justice Department has charged more than 850 people associated with the Capitol attack. But some lawmakers and advocacy groups have urged charges against people who financed and organized the attack, potentially including Trump. Rep. Elaine Luria, a member of the Jan. 6 committee, noted the president was “the only person in the Constitution whose duty is explicitly laid out to ensure that the laws are faithfully executed.”
“Well, I do think that there’s a much broader plot here. I think that’s pretty obvious,” said Rep. Zoe Lofgren, also a member of the committee. “I would not want to tell the attorney general how to conduct his investigations. But I will say this, they have subpoena power and they have a lot easier way to enforce their subpoenas than the Congress does.”
The committee simply gathers information, which it plans to pass along to the Justice Department, but the department must decide which charges to pursue. Attorney General Merrick Garland has said he would follow the facts and the law.
Capitol riot arrests:See who’s been charged across the U.S.
During seven previous public hearings, the Jan. 6 committee sought to prove the former president oversaw and coordinated a plan to prevent the peaceful transfer of power.
The hearings covered: