WASHINGTON — The Democratic and Republican leaders of the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, riot began laying out on Thursday evening what they described as a methodical conspiracy, led and coordinated by former President Donald J. Trump, to remain in power, which culminated in the worst attack on the Capitol since 1814.
The committee’s chairman, Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi, and its vice chairman, Liz Cheney, Republican of Wyoming, used a multimedia presentation that relied on the videotaped testimony of Trump loyalists, including the former attorney general, William P. Barr, the former president’s daughter Ivanka Trump, and a longtime aide and spokesman Jason Miller.
Together, the testimony and the lawmakers’ interpretations were used not only to highlight the threat that the activities that led up to the attack posed to American democracy but also to put Mr. Trump in the center of what Mr. Thompson called “a sprawling, multi-step conspiracy aimed at overturning the election.”
“Jan. 6 was the culmination of an attempted coup,” Mr. Thompson said.
Ms. Cheney hit the former president hard: “President Trump summoned the mob, assembled the mob and lit the flame for attack.”
Ms. Cheney, who has broken from the vast majority of her party to help lead the committee, had a stark message for her estranged colleagues: “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.”
The opening act of what will be a series of six hearings was the only one planned for prime time, an overview to remind viewers of the meaning and magnitude of the attack and the culpability of a former president who continues to methodically misinform his followers that an election he lost decisively was stolen from him.
Backing the committee up were the words of Trump administration officials…..
Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), the committee’s chairman, called the day’s violence the “culmination of an attempted coup.” Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), vice-chair of the committee, said Trump oversaw a “sophisticated, seven-part plan to overturn the presidential election” even as his top aides told him there was no evidence to support his fantastical claims.
Trump resisted entreaties from his staff to call off the mob, Cheney said, and gave no order to deploy the National Guard. Instead, he issued tweets that were read aloud by members of the mob, according to video presented by the committee, which also showed aides in the office of Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), the House minority leader, running in fear.
Trump expressed agreement with the chants of his supporters to “hang Mike Pence,” said Cheney, who previewed evidence that the president responded with the sentiment: “maybe our supporters have the right idea.”
Snippets of recorded witness interviews showed that top officials in Trump’s White House and campaign knew he had lost the election and communicated this bluntly to the president. William P. Barr, Trump’s former attorney general, told the committee he saw “absolutely zero basis” for claims the election had been stolen.
Trump’s elder daughter, Ivanka Trump, said she treated Barr’s views as decisive. “I accepted what he was saying,” she told the committee. But Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, dismissed as “whining” threats by White House counsel Pat Cipollone to resign in the weeks before Jan. 6, according to a clip of Kushner’s deposition.
Jason Miller, a senior campaign spokesman, said the campaign’s data specialist told Trump in no uncertain terms that internal figures showed “he was going to lose.” The same message was relayed to the White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, according to Alex Cannon, a campaign lawyer charged with examining possible fraud.
“I remember sharing with him that we weren’t finding anything that would be sufficient to change the results in any of the key states,” said Cannon, who recalled Meadows replying, “so there’s no there there.”…
The Jan. 6 select committee opened its case to the American public with one overarching conclusion about the violence that consumed the Capitol last year: It was carefully planned and orchestrated.
A pro-Donald Trump mob’s attack on Congress 17 months ago, threatening the transfer of presidential power, was the culmination of weeks of pre-planning by extremist groups and individuals, the panel communicated at its first major hearing Thursday night. Many of those extremists, as the committee sees it, decided to descend on Washington following a Dec. 19, 2020 tweet by Donald Trump himself.
The select committee played a video highlighting how that particular tweet ignited preparations by people who would later help orchestrate and drive forward the siege on the Capitol.
The panel’s first public hearing to unfurl the findings of its year-long investigation into the causes of the attack played out in primetime and will be followed by at least five other hearings over the course of June. As the panel focuses on premeditation, Thursday’s opening bid homed in on the role of the Proud Boys, the pro-Trump, far-right group whose members were highly visible throughout the riot….
Documentary filmmaker Nick Quested, in his testimony before the Jan. 6 committee Thursday night, described his experience at the Capitol riot.
“For anyone who didn’t understand how violent that event was, I saw it, I documented it and I experienced it,” Quested said.
He described his team meeting up with the Proud Boys at around 10:30 a.m. on Jan. 6 when they were beginning to walk down the National Mall.
Quested said he thought he and his team were in Washington, D.C., to cover former President Trump’s speech that morning.
“There was a large contingent, more than I had expected,” he said. “And I was confused to a certain extent why we were walking away from the president’s speech, because that’s what I felt we were there to cover.”
Capitol Police Officer Caroline Edwards, in her opening statement Thursday evening, said she was “called a lot of things on Jan. 6, 2021 and the days thereafter.”
“I was called Nancy Pelosi’s dog, called incompetent, called a hero and a villain,” she said. “I was called a traitor to my country, my oath and my Constitution.”
“In actuality, I was none of those things,” she said. “I was an American standing face to face with other Americans, asking myself how many times many, many times how we had gotten here.”
“I, whose literal blood, sweat and tears were shed that day defending the building that I spent countless holidays and weekends working in,” Edwards said. “They dared to question my honor. They dared to question my loyalty, and they dared to question my duty.”
She added: “I’m a proud American and I will gladly sacrifice everything to make sure that the America my grandfather defended is here for many years to come.”
The committee presented a video of Ivanka Trump’s deposition Thursday evening.
During her deposition, Ivanka Trump was asked about former Attorney General Bill Barr’s findings on whether the 2020 election had been stolen.
“I made it clear I did not agree with the idea that the election was stolen, which, I told the president, was bullsh–,” Barr said during his deposition–which the committee shared with the public Thursday night.
Barr added that: “You can’t live in a world where the incumbent administration stays in power based on its view, unsupported by specific evidence, that the election–that there was fraud in the election.”
The committee played Ivanka Trump’s testimony, and reaction to Barr’s comments.
“It affected my perspective,” Trump said. “I respect Attorney General Barr so I accepted what he said.”…