Ahead of the House select committee’s first primetime hearing chronicling their ongoing investigation into Jan. 6th Capitol riots, members promised to reveal new and “shocking” information surrounding one of the darkest days in American history. We’ve seen the attempted insurrection in real-time and read many reports for a year and a half. However, it’s still jarring to see how close the attempted coup came to being successful.
The committee put together a presentation to show the American people what can happen when a man refuses to accept defeat, throws a temper tantrum, and lies about it. Then people blindly believe that lie and help him elevate it with a coordinated plan. As the hearings began, Committee Chair Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) reiterated that democracy is still in danger.
“Tonight, and over the next few weeks, we’re going to remind you of the reality of what happened that day. But our work must do much more than just look backwards. Because our democracy remains in danger. The conspiracy to thwart the will of the people is not over,” Thompson will say in his opening remarks, an excerpt of which was shared in advance by the committee.
Here are some of the biggest takeaways from the first primetime hearing:
1. As CNN reports, the committee revealed never-before-seen footage where Former Attorney General William Barr, Trump’s daughter Ivanka, and former Trump spokesman Jason Miller said they didn’t believe the “stollen election claims.” Barr even went as far as saying Trump’s claims of voter fraud were “bullshit.”
When Miller looked at the election maps, he told Trump in “pretty blunt terms that he would lose.” Trump campaign lawyer Alex Cannon informed former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows that they “weren’t finding anything that would be sufficient to change the results in any of the key states.”
2. CNN also pointed out a new video shown of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley stating that former Vice President Mike Pence was the one who ordered National Guard troops to stop the violence at the Capitol. However, Miley was told to say by the Trump WH to say the ex-president made the call.
“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 steady or stable, or words to that effect,” Milley says in the video, referring to what Meadows told him,
3. Capitol Police Officer Caroline Edwards provided heartbreaking testimony of her first-hand account from the Capitol building. Edwards was knocked unconscious when rioters overturned a bike rack onto her and was also teargassed. When she regained consciousness, Edwards continued to fight alongside her fellow officers.
“It was something like I’d seen out of the movies — I couldn’t believe my eyes. There were officers on the ground. They were bleeding. They were throwing up. I saw friends with blood all over their faces. I was slipping in people’s blood. I was catching people as they fell. It was carnage; it was chaos,” she continued.
4. While it’s no surprise, the committee revealed testimony from former Trump staffers that the ex-president didn’t want the riot to end and was fully aware of the “hang Mike Pence” chants on the Capitol lawn.
“Aware of the rioters’ chants to ‘hang Mike Pence,’ the President responded with this sentiment: [quote] ‘Maybe our supporters have the right idea.’ Mike Pence [quote] ‘deserves’ it,” she said.
5. In her opening statement, Rep. Liz Cheney said that Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA) and “multiple other Republican congressmen also sought presidential pardons for their roles in attempting to overturn the 2020 election.”
6. The committee references the right-winged groups who invaded the Capitol. The Associated Press noted Trump’s comment that the Proud Boys should ‘stand back and stand by,’ Proud Boy member Jeremy Bertino said the group’s membership ‘tripled, probably’ after Trump said that.
The committee is planning to hold six more hearings throughout the rest of June and further investigate how Trump attempted to stay in power. My only hope is that the Justice Department and Attorney General Merrick Garland are watching these hearings.