Key takeaways emerge during prime-time hearing on US Capitol attack

US House investigators defended to the American public at a prime-time hearing on Thursday that the violent uprising by supporters of former US President Donald Trump should not be forgotten.

While the rationale for the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol is well known, the committee is trying to tell the story of how it happened and how to prevent it from happening again, for history.

The made-for-TV hearings — which included videos of police officers being brutally beaten and right-wing extremists leading the crowd to the Capitol — came as some tried to downplay the violence.

“We cannot sweep what happened under the rug,” said Representative Bennie Thompson, chairman of the panel, as he opened the first of a series of hearings. “The American people deserve answers.”

Findings from the Committee’s First Hearing on January 6:

Trump’s role

Thompson presented the committee’s initial findings that Trump led an “extensive, multi-step conspiracy aimed at overthrowing the presidential election.”

The sun sets behind the Capitol in Washington on Thursday as the committee held its hearing. (Julio Cortez/The Associated Press)

The panel’s vice chair, Wyoming Representative Liz Cheney, called it a “sophisticated seven-part plan.”

The committee plans to look at how Trump pushed his false allegations of widespread fraud and how that ended up sparking violence on Capitol Hill. They argue that their lies have prompted far-right extremist groups such as the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers into action.

“January 6 was the culmination of an attempted coup, a brazen attempt,” Thompson said.

The committee conducted more than 1,000 interviews with people linked to the siege and collected more than 140,000 documents. They will use that evidence throughout this month’s hearings to show how the attack was coordinated by some of the rioters in the violent mob that stormed the Capitol and stopped President Joe Biden’s certification of victory — and how Trump’s efforts started it all.

“The attack on our Capitol was not a spontaneous riot,” Cheney said.

Testimony from Trump’s Inner Circle

The hearing featured never-before-seen video testimony from former Attorney General Bill Barr and others who told Trump at the time that his fraud allegations were without merit. Barr, who said publicly at the time that the Justice Department had found no fraud, said he had told Trump it was “bullshit”.

WATCH | Barr and Ivanka Trump in unpublished testimony:

Ivanka Trump, William Barr’s Testimony Aired at Riot Hearings at US Capitol

The U.S. Congressional committee investigating the January 6, 2021 riots began its televised hearings on Thursday, showing its video interview with former Attorney General Bill Barr, who testified he told Donald Trump his allegations of electoral fraud were ‘nonsense’. The panel also showed testimony from Ivanka Trump.

The panel also showed video testimony from Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, who spoke to the committee in April. She said Barr’s statement “affected my perspective”.

“I respect Attorney General Barr, so I took what he said,” she told the committee.

bid for attention

The committee took the unusual step of launching audiences with a prime-time show – with the aim of gathering as many viewers as possible.

It’s not yet clear how many will tune in, but the panel is producing the audience in hopes of becoming a must-see television, featuring never-before-seen video footage of the violent insurrection.

The committee’s interview with former White House adviser Ivanka Trump is shown as committee members look on, Thursday night. (J. Scott Applewhite/The Associated Press)

The courtroom was also set up for impact, with a huge screen hovering over the lawmakers.

Deputies who witnessed the attack

Lawmakers who were trapped together in the House during the uprising attended Thursday’s hearing after having dinner together. Lawmakers were caught in an upper gallery of the chamber as rioters banged on doors.

Representative Dean Phillips, a Democrat from Minnesota, said House members, who were eventually relocated undamaged, are dismayed that an event that exposed the fragility of democracy could “somehow be whitewashed by tens of millions of people, including many… here in Congress.”

Some Republican lawmakers have tried to downplay the insurgency, accusing Democrats of being overly focused on trying to prevent the peaceful transfer of power.

“We want to remind people that we were there, we saw what happened. We know how close we came to the first non-peaceful transition of power in this country,” Phillips said.

The committee took the unusual step of launching audiences with a prime-time show – with the aim of gathering as many viewers as possible. (J. Scott Applewhite/The Associated Press)

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