Jan. 6 panel expresses satisfaction with first day of public hearings
Members of the Jan. 6 select committee expressed satisfaction after its first public hearing, a two-hour prime-time event that laid out the case that former President Trump was at the center of a scheme to keep himself in power.
“From a forensic point of view, and from a legalistic standpoint, the evening was a very powerful success for the committee, because what we laid out was the clarity of the narrative that Donald Trump absolutely refused to accept the results of the 2020 presidential election,” Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) told reporters Thursday night.
“The details of it are just absolutely unrefuted, and they’re irrefutable. And the fact that we have elected officers in the country who are still trying to deny the truth is shocking to me,” he added.
The hearing, which aired live on most broadcast television networks, featured a combination of new footage from the Capitol riot, live witness testimony and videos of those close to Trump speaking with the committee’s investigators, including former Attorney General William Barr; Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter; and Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump’s husband and a former White House adviser.
Capitol Police Officer Caroline Edwards, who was injured during the riot, testified at the hearing, as did Nick Quested, a filmmaker who was documenting the moves of the Proud Boys on Jan. 6, 2021.
The committee also showed never-before-seen footage of the violent attack captured by Quested and supplemented the gripping images with emotional testimony from Edwards, who described the chaos at the Capitol on Jan. 6 as a “war scene.”
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), a member of the Jan. 6 panel and the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told MSNBC Thursday night that the evening was “very powerful.”
He specifically pointed to Edwards’s testimony.
“I can’t imagine a more powerful refutation of the lie that this was a normal tourist day, that this was legitimate political discourse,” Schiff said. “And so we did, I hope, show the country just a bit of the mountain of evidence that we have and gave the country a sense of what lies ahead in our future hearings.”
Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), another member of the committee, said she was “incredibly impressed” by Edwards’s testimony.
Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.), who also sits on the committee, told CNN on Friday that Quested’s video and the firsthand testimony presented at the hearing illustrated that Jan. 6 “wasn’t a spontaneous riot” that broke out during a protest but was “a part in a culmination of an effort” to replace the will of the American people with Trump’s desire to remain in power.
“I think the videos and the firsthand testimony that we were able to show last night, you know, you don’t have to take it from us. You can hear the people around Trump and the folks who planned the riot talk about why they were there and what they hoped to achieve that day,” she added.
Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), the panel’s vice chair, emerged as the leading figure on the committee during Thursday’s night’s proceedings.
The congresswoman, who is one of two Republicans serving on the panel and has become a leading anti-Trump voice in the GOP, delivered a more than 30-minute opening statement that walked the public through evidence and laid out what she characterized as a “sophisticated seven-part plan” Trump “oversaw and coordinated” to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
Those seven points will serve as the main themes of the remaining hearings, according to Cheney, including Trump’s efforts to pressure the Justice Department to investigate his false claims of election fraud and attempts to persuade state electors and election officials to identify “alternate electors” to certify a Trump victory in states he lost.
Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) used his opening statement to underscore Trump’s connection to the Capitol riot and emphasize the threat American democracy faced on Jan. 6.
Schiff praised the chair and vice chair.
“I think the chairman laid out the historical nature of what we went through that day, the unprecedented attempt to interfere with the transfer of power,” the California Democrat said.
“And then I think the vice chair importantly wove together the narrative about these multifaceted efforts to overturn the election, the pressure on state legislatures and legislators, the pressure on the vice president, the continued pushing of these false claims of fraud even when the president’s own attorney general said they were BS, and how it led to that day,” he added.
Asked for her reaction following the hearing, Cheney told The Hill, “I think that we began the process of laying out the facts to the American people.”
Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), the other Republican serving on the committee and who has been a fierce critic of Trump, was pleased with how the evening went.
“I thought it was fantastic,” he told The Hill when asked if he was happy with the proceedings.
“Thought it was awesome. It reminded people, and that’s good,” he added.
Asked if the evening was a success, Lofgren said, “Others will have to decide that.”