WASHINGTON – House investigators lay out the origins of the Jan. 6, 2021 US Capitol violence, using video testimony and live witnesses to describe former President Donald Trump’s “call to action” in a December tweet and how the advisers White House officials urged the President to drop his false allegations of voter fraud.
At its seventh public hearing on Jan. 6, the panel not only outlines the plans of extremist groups like the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers in the run-up to the attack, but remains focused on what happened at the White House at the time.
“A CALL TO ACTION… A CALL TO ARMORS”
A focus of the hearing is Trump’s Dec. 19 tweet about a “major protest” at the upcoming joint session of Congress: “Be there, will be wild!”
Florida Rep. Stephanie Murphy said the tweet “serves as a call to action and, in some cases, a call to arms.” She said the president “called for support” when he said Vice President Mike Pence and other Republicans did not have enough guts to try to block President Joe Biden’s victory at the Jan. 6 joint session.
The tweet “electrified and electrified” Trump’s supporters, Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin said, particularly “the dangerous extremists of the Oath Keepers, the Proud Boys and other racist and white nationalist groups who are getting into a fight.”
Raskin said Trump encouraged the groups around a common goal. “Never before in American history has a president called a crowd to challenge Congress’ vote count,” he said.
AN IMPROPER MEETING
The committee stitched together video clips from interviews to describe, in near minute detail, a December 18 meeting in the hours before Trump’s tweet.
Former White House adviser Cassidy Hutchinson, who testified live before the panel two weeks ago, called the meeting between White House advisers and informal advisers to “defuse” the fraud allegations in a text to another Trump adviser this evening to bring to the helm”. Other aides described “screams” as advisers floated wild theories about voter fraud with no evidence to back them and as White House attorneys aggressively pushed back.
The video clips contained testimonies from attorney Sidney Powell, who had put forward some of the wildest theories, including broken voting machines and hacked thermostats, which she somehow linked to the false allegations of fraud.
White House Counsel Eric Herschmann, one of the aides who pushed back, said the theories were “insane” and “it got to the point where the screaming was completely, completely out there.”
The aides described a chaotic six-hour back-and-forth beginning with Trump speaking to a group of informal advisers with no White House aides present. Both Cipollone and Powell said in interviews that Cipollone, the White House Counsel, rushed over to disrupt the meeting. Powell sarcastically said she thought Cipollone set a new “ground speed record” to get there.
Cipollone, who sat with the committee for a private interview last week after being subpoenaed, said he didn’t think the group was giving Trump good advice, saying he and the other White House attorneys kept asking them, “Where is the evidence? ” But they didn’t get good answers, he said.
Hours later at 1:42 a.m., Trump sent the tweet urging supporters to come to Washington on Jan. 6.
ADVICE NOT FOLLOWED
As they have done several times before, the committee showed video testimonies of White House advisers who said they did not believe widespread fraud had occurred in the election and had reported it to the President. Many said they were adamant Biden’s win was a done deal after states certified voters on Dec. 14 and dozens of Trump’s campaign lawsuits failed in court.
Ivanka Trump, the former president’s daughter, said it was her opinion the election was over after December 14 and “probably before that.” Former White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said she had plans for a post-White House life at the time. Eugene Scalia, then the Secretary of Labor, said he told the president in a call it was time to say Biden had won.
Former Trump press adviser Judd Deere said he told Trump “my personal view was that the electoral college had met” and that time to pursue a lawsuit was up.
“He disagreed,” Deere said.
A STRATEGY CHANGE
The panel is holding the hearings to find out the truth about the events of Jan. 6 and the weeks before, while Trump and some of his GOP allies seek to downplay or deny it altogether. Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, one of two Republicans on the panel, said at the start of the hearing that in recent weeks the committee has “observed a change in the way witnesses and attorneys in Trump orbit are communicating with this committee and.” approach his strategy”. .
Instead of denying the involvement, Cheney says witnesses and people close to Trump have increasingly tried to “blame people who call his advisers ‘the lunatics.'”
“President Donald Trump is a 76-year-old man. He’s not an impressionable kid,” Cheney said. “And just like everyone else in our country, he is responsible for his own actions and decisions.”
She also spoke to people who still believe his false cheating allegations.
“These Americans didn’t have access to the truth like Donald Trump did,” Cheney said, and they wanted to believe him. “It may be painful for millions of Americans to accept. But it is true.”
Trump has railed against the committee, denying much of its evidence on his social media platform Truth Social.
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