5 takeaways from the first hearing on January 6th

The evidence described a methodical conspiracy to stop the peaceful transfer of power.

(Jabin Botsford | The Washington Post via AP) From left: Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D- Calif., Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., Vice Chair Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., and Rep. Elaine Luria, D- Va., the House Special Committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, is holding its first public hearing on Thursday, June 9, 2022 on Capitol Hill in Washington to review the findings of a year-long investigation reveal.

The House of Representatives opening hearing on the events surrounding the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol was a compact and controlled two hours designed to provide an overview of what has been described as a methodical conspiracy directed and coordinated by President Donald Trump to to thwart the peaceful transfer of power and democracy itself.

It was also a lure for the American people to see the next five scheduled hearings.

Here are some takeaways:

The committee chair, Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., and vice chair, Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., began crafting what they described as an elaborate, deliberate plan by Trump to take on staying in power, an unprecedented American history and with dangerous implications for democracy.

“Jan. 6 was the culmination of an attempted coup,” Thompson said.

Both leaders had harsh words for Trump and the threat he poses to American democracy. They made it clear that despite his continued bluster about stolen elections, Trump had knowingly disseminated allegations of voter fraud that people closest to him knew were false and had attempted to use government apparatus and the courts to get around to remain in power, and whenever that all failed, sat back in approval in the White House as a mob of his supporters stormed the Capitol and threatened to hang his vice president.

The hearing used videotaped testimony from some of Trump’s closest aides and allies to show that the Trump campaign and his White House — and perhaps the president himself — had full knowledge that Joe Biden had won the 2020 election. It showed how Trump and his loyalists had deployed a calculated campaign of lies to bind his supporters and build support for his attempt to stay in power through extra-legal means and violence.

The committee played excerpts from videotaped interviews by former Attorney General Bill Barr, who said he told Trump talk of widespread fraud in the 2020 election was “bullshit.” There was a clip of his daughter Ivanka Trump saying she accepts Barr’s conclusions, and of a campaign attorney, Alex Cannon, telling Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, that Trump allies found no election issues affecting the results could undo key states. “So there isn’t one there?” Meadows responded, according to Cannon’s report.

At one point, in one of the most potentially damaging moments of the videotaped interviews, Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner is shown dismissing threats from then-White House Counsel Pat Cipollone to resign in the face of Trump’s machinations as “whining.”

Caroline Edwards, a Capitol police officer believed to be the first injured during the riot, testified in chilling detail about the first breach of police lines, during which she was crushed under bike racks aimed at her and a handful others were pushed by officers who had no chance of holding the mob back.

“The back of my head touched the concrete stairs behind me,” she testified, recounting the moment before she passed out. Her testimony of continuing to fight off the rioters to protect the Capitol provided a striking contrast to the committee’s report that Trump sat in the White House and watched with obvious sympathy as the mob looted the building and yelled at aid workers who begged him to cancel the violence and once said, “Maybe our supporters have the right idea.”

When she came to and saw the scene behind the police lines, Edwards said, her breath was taken away. She slipped in blood, saw other officers writhing in pain and suffering from bear spray and tear gas, and gazed out at what she described as the theater of war outside the Capitol.

“It was carnage,” she said. “It was chaos. I can’t even describe what I saw.”

One of the witnesses, a British documentary filmmaker named Nick Quested, who was involved with the extremist Proud Boys, gave a statement that suggested the group’s leadership was conspiring with another extremist organization, the Oath Keepers, well before the riot had to plan an attack that would break up the Capitol.

Quested showed footage he took of Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio secretly meeting with Stewart Rhodes of the Oath Keepers on January 5th and recounted the group’s meeting on January 6th from a Breaking free from the morning rally behind the White House, scout police defenses around the Capitol.

“I’m not allowed to say what’s going to happen today because everyone has to watch,” one woman said on video on the morning of January 6, when there was no sign of an attack.

The hearing ended with a reference to upcoming hearings, which committee members hope will show how Trump was personally responsible for the worst attack on the Capitol since the British sacked it in 1814 and that he posed a threat to Americans remains a democratic experiment.

The committee concluded with videos of the rioters themselves saying they believed they had been invited to Washington that day by their president, who had asked them to fight for him.

“He lit the fuse that ultimately led to the January 6 violence,” said Thompson, the committee’s chairman, of Trump.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

https://www.sltrib.com/news/nation-world/2022/06/10/takeaways-first-jan/ 5 takeaways from the first hearing on January 6th

Joel McCord

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