Hello, OnPolitics readers!
Welcome to a special Friday edition of OnPolitics. Today, we’ll recap the first in a series of hearings held Thursday night by the House Jan. 6 committee investigating the insurrection at the Capitol over a year ago.
Witnesses and spectators were shocked and saddened by the video evidence of police being beaten bloody by rioters who ransacked the Capitol. Several US Capitol police officers and the widows of their fallen colleagues were visibly shaken.
“It boils down to this: January 6 was the culmination of an attempted coup,” Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., chairman of the committee, said in his opening remarks.
Thompson went on to describe the events of that day as a “sprawling, multi-step conspiracy” meant to subvert a democratic election. Former President Donald Trump, said Thompson, sought to “(throw) out the votes of millions of Americans – your vote, your voice in our democracy – and (replace) the will of the American people with his will to remain in power.”
Capitol Police Officer Caroline Edwards was at the Capitol on Jan. 6 and sustained a traumatic brain injury from the attack. Edwards testified that she slipped on the blood of fellow officers and caught her colleagues as they fell fending off the rioters.
“I can’t even describe what I saw,” she said.
How was the attack on the Capitol planned?
During the hearing, the committee outlined the intricate process leading up to the Jan. 6 insurrection, described as Trump’s “last stand,” as I have sought to halt the transfer of power.
Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., vice chair of the committee, asserted that Trump and his advisers knew he had lost the 2020 presidential election, but the former president “engaged in a massive effort to spread false and fraudulent information to convince huge portions of the US population that fraud had stolen the election from him.”
“This was not true,” Cheney said during opening remarks.
The committee will detail how Trump and those closest to him knew he had lost before his allegations of fraud and subsequent lawsuits during the next hearing, scheduled for Monday.
“Donald Trump oversaw and coordinated a sophisticated seven-part plan to overturn the presidential election and prevent the transfer of presidential power,” Cheney said.
That plan — which included the election fraud claims; his plans for him to corruptly replace Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen; pressure on former Vice President Mike Pence to reject state voters; pressure on state officials to overturn election results; and the attack on the Capitol — will unfold over the next seven hearings, according to Cheney.
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Catch up on more Jan. 6 coverage:
- Meet the witnesses of the Jan. 6 committee: The hearing also featured two witnesses: a US Capitol Police officer who was injured during the riot and a documentarian who filmed parts of the violence.
- Committee says Trump knew: the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol presented evidence that President Trump was told by his own top officials he had lost the 2020 election.
- Who has been subpoenaed so far by the committee? The committee has issued 99 subpoenas to close aides and associates of the former president as well as organizers of events that took place prior to the storming of the Capitol.
- Full recap of the hearing: Our USA TODAY Politics team worked to bring you live updates on the hearing’s happenings. Read the full rundown of what the House committee covered during its first primetime, public hearing.
- Ivanka Trump opposes 2020 election fraud claims: Ivanka Trump, former President Donald Trump’s daughter and senior adviser, said she accepted the Justice Department’s finding of no fraud sufficient to overturn the 2020 election in a video played at the congressional hearing.
More key takeaways from Thursday night’s hearing
Revelations of former President Donald Trump’s involvement in the effort to overthrow the 2020 election and gripping testimony of a war-torn scene from a Capitol Police officer who survived the attack kicked off a series of hearings on Jan. 6, 2021.
The hearing, conducted by a special congressional panel that has for months been investigating the Jan. 6 attack, aired Thursday during nearly all news networks’ prime-time slots.
Thompson said the evidence compiled by the panel will show how Trump led and coordinated an attempt to overturn the election results.
Cheney scorns GOP: Cheney went further , saying Trump “summoned” and “assembled” the mob. The daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, her comments from her were particularly pointed out as one of just two GOP lawmakers on the committee.
“Tonight I say this to my Republican colleagues who are defending the indefensible: There will come a day when Donald Trump is gone, but your dishonor will remain,” she said.
Proud Boys played a key role: At several points during the hearing, the committee highlighted how the far-right group known as the Proud Boys played a significant role in the riot. The panel played footage from a documentary team showing Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio meeting with Stewart Rhodes, the leader of the Oathkeepers, on Jan. 5.
Documentary filmmaker Nick Quested, who was embedded with the group, said he watched how members turned “from protestors to rioters to insurrectionists” who helped overrun the police line.
📷: Check out seven of the most starting images from the Capitol Attack on January 6. — Amy and Chelsey
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism