On Tuesday, the Jan. 6 committee convenes its seventh public hearing with Reps. Jamie Raskin of Maryland and Stephanie Murphy of Florida leading proceedings that are expected to expose the seedy underbelly of extremism underpinning so much of the violence and destruction that former President Donald Trump incited at the US Capitol last year.
For weeks the committee has neatly presented reams of evidence and witness testimony that they say demonstrates how Trump stubbornly sought to reverse his defeat by any means necessary, including pressuring then-Vice President Mike Pence and peddling a widely debunked lie about voter fraud in order to rally his supporters to his side.
As his attempt to overturn the election grew increasingly desperate, Trump homed in on neofascist and extremist groups like the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys to carry forth and support his message.
Tuesday’s hearing is expected to parse out the involvement of these groups and others and examine key moments leading up to the insurrection, like a Dec. 18 meeting at the Oval Office with Trump’s former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, his lawyer Sidney Powell, and others who proposed wildly unconstitutional schemes including the seizure of voting machines. The former president issued a tweet mere hours after that meeting that called for a “wild” rally in Washington, DC, on Jan. 6. That, investigators will argue, was the moment Trump lit a fuse to activate extremists.
Investigators are also to divulge more recorded depositions from witnesses like Trump White House attorney Pat Cipollone. Live witness accounts are expected from Jason Van Tatenhove, an onetime spokesman for the Oath Keepers, and Ohio resident Stephen Ayres, who pleaded guilty to illegally entering the Capitol on Jan. 6. According to federal prosecutors and Ayres himself, he was incited to storm the Capitol because of Trump’s calls to action.
Connections between Trump, Flynn, self-proclaimed “dirty trickster” Roger Stone, and the extremist groups will be carved out by the committee as well. Presently, Elmer Stewart Rhodes, the leader of the Oath Keepers, awaits trial for seditious conspiracy. Prosecutors say he oversaw and helped orchestrate a plot to stop the transfer of power on Jan. 6. Several members of the group have been charged alongside Rhodes. The same seditious conspiracy charges have been brought against Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, leader of the Proud Boys. His trial is also slated for later this year.
For more background, check out the related story links below. A livestream for today’s hearing is available here:
The committee’s eighth hearing is expected to unfold next week and it will be then that the committee will unpack Trump’s dereliction of duty during a nearly three-hour span where the Capitol was under siege and he sat idly by.
In opening statements, Chair Thompson notes how critical it is for differences to be decided at the ballot box and the role of leaders to treat their oath responsibly.
During Liz Cheney’s opening statement, she pushed back at Trump’s allies defending him by claiming that the former president had been led astray by others. “[He] is a 76-year-old man, ”Cheney said. “He is not an impressionable child.”
Members of the committee in their opening remarks focused on Trump’s active role in what ultimately culminated in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
Liz Cheney says at today’s hearing that there has been a shift in attitude among those that they have questioned and continue to question in Trump’s orbit.
The facts and evidence have been convincing and despite the public balking by some, those that are coming forward are being more earnest.
We are seeing testimony from a variety of Trump’s advisers and associates who have said Trump was informed repeatedly that they had lost legal battles left and right and there was no path to victory. The fraud he claimed existed, simply did not.
Cipollone was asked if he believes Trump is obligated to abide by the ruling of the courts.
“Of course, everybody is obligated to abide by the rules of the courts,” Cipollone said.