The five most dramatic moments from the Jan. 6 hearing
The first televised hearing of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot took place Thursday evening.
The event, carried live on most broadcast networks and cable news channels, lasted almost two hours.
The testimony was powerful and often raw.
Here are five of the most dramatic moments.
Liz Cheney’s remarks
Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) has become the GOP’s leading critic of former President Trump since the insurrection.
Her willingness to take on the former president has cost her a senior leadership position within the party. She is also in danger of losing her House primary in August.
Cheney has blasted Trump’s behavior on numerous occasions, but she has rarely done so with such power and precision as on Thursday evening.
The staunch conservative, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, asserted that Trump’s culpability for the attack on the Capitol was crystal-clear.
“Those who invaded our Capitol and battled law enforcement for hours were motivated by what President Trump had told them: that the election was stolen and that he was the rightful president,” she said.
Trump, she added, had “summoned the mob, assembled the mob and lit the flame of this attack.”
Cheney is one of only two Republicans to serve on the committee, alongside another Trump critic, Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.).
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) pulled his nominees from the panel after Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) rejected two staunch Trump allies that McCarthy proposed, Reps. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio).
McCarthy earlier Thursday gave evasive answers when pressed by a reporter on whether he accepted President Biden as the legitimate victor of the 2020 election.
Cheney aimed one of her sharpest barbs at those in the GOP who retain allegiance to Trump despite the events of Jan. 6.
“There will come a day when Donald Trump is gone,” she said. “Your dishonor will remain.”
Capitol Police Officer Caroline Edwards’s testimony
Edwards, one of approximately 140 police officers injured during the insurrection, recounted her experiences to a rapt hearing room.
Some details of the earlier stages of the riot were powerful because, in retrospect, they seem so incongruously casual.
Edwards laughed as she recalled her comment to a superior when she realized how badly the police were outnumbered.
“Sarge, I think we’re going to need a few more people down here,” she said.
From there on, things turned far more bleak.
Edwards recalled seeing fellow officer Brian Sicknick in distress, which Edwards assumed was the result of having been pepper-sprayed by rioters.
“He was ghostly pale. … He turned just about as pale as this sheet of paper,” Edwards said, holding a piece of white paper in front of her.
Sicknick died the next day, age 42, having suffered two strokes — though the District of Columbia chief medical examiner classified his passing as having natural causes.
Edwards’s testimony reached its emotional apex toward its end.
“I can just remember my breath catching in my throat because what I saw was just a war scene,” she said. “I saw friends with blood all over their faces. I was slipping in people’s blood.”
She added, “It was carnage. It was chaos.”
Comments from Ivanka Trump and former Attorney General William Barr
The hearing’s early stages were punctuated by video clips of testimony from former Trump officials and aides.
Together, these made the case that Trump and his allies knew the election had been lost and was not fraudulent.
If that’s true, Trump and his inner circle perpetrated a conscious fraud upon his supporters, urging them to act on something that was known to be a lie.
The most striking moments of this phase of the hearing came with an unusual combination — former Attorney General William Barr and Ivanka Trump, the former president’s elder daughter.
Barr was shown in an interview with committee officials reiterating his belief that Donald Trump’s allegations of election fraud in 2020 were “bullshit.”
This was given added force by a short clip of Ivanka Trump saying that she found Barr’s failure to find fraud personally persuasive.
“It affected my perspective. I respect Attorney General Barr, so I accepted what he was saying,” she said.
Video footage of the violence at the Capitol
Seventeen months after the attack on the Capitol, the once-searing images of that day may have faded from some Americans’ minds.
They were brought back with fierce power by a compilation of video footage that ended the first part of the hearing.
The chaos and pain of the scenes were undeniable.
The presentation closed with audio of Trump talking in a subsequent interview of “love in the air” that day.
The footage showed just the opposite.
How Trump’s debate remark spiked Proud Boys recruitment
One of the more surprising moments dated back to before the 2020 election.
During a September 2020 presidential debate between Trump and Biden, Trump was asked by moderator Chris Wallace whether he was “willing to condemn, tonight, white supremacists and militia groups.”
Trump said he was willing to do so but insisted, “Give me a name.”
Biden interjected: “Proud Boys.”
“Proud Boys — stand back and stand by,” Trump replied.
The comment was deeply controversial even at the time.
But Thursday’s hearing showed testimony from members of the group affirming that Trump’s comment helped spike recruitment. One contended that membership “tripled” in the wake of Trump’s remark.
This single revelation won’t change many people’s minds about Trump or the events of that day.
But it did help the panel in its mission of drawing a direct line between the former president’s words and the violence of the insurrection.