Overnight Defense

Defense & National Security — Jan. 6 hearing to focus on frantic 187 minutes

Thursday’s prime-time hearing of the House panel investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol will focus on former President Trump’s actions during the riot.

We’ll talk about what to expect ahead of the hearing. Plus, we’ll talk about Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) response after President Biden suggested that the military didn’t think it was a good idea for her to go to Taiwan.

This is Defense & National Security, your nightly guide to the latest developments at the Pentagon, on Capitol Hill and beyond. For The Hill, I’m Jordan WilliamsSubscribe here.

Jan. 6 panel to spotlight Trump’s actions during riot

The House panel probing last year’s attack on the U.S. Capitol is promising a “minute-by-minute” account of Donald Trump’s actions throughout the rampage.

  • The panel is turning its focus Thursday to those crucial hours at the White House to boost the case that the former president supported — if not instigated — the violence.
  • In a prime-time hearing designed to maximize viewership, the committee will examine the frantic 187 minutes between the start of the melee and Trump’s unhurried effort to defuse it with the release of a video urging the rioters to “go home.”

Trump ‘refused to act:’ “The story we’re going to tell tomorrow is that in that time, President Trump refused to act to defend the Capitol as a violent mob stormed the Capitol with the aim of stopping the counting of electoral votes and blocking the transfer of power,” a select committee aide said on a preview call with reporters.  

“One of the main points that we’re going to make here is that President Trump had the power to call off the mob — he was the sole person who could call off the mob — and he chose not to.” 

The testimony: The committee is expected to hear from two members of Trump’s staff who resigned to protest how he handled Jan. 6: Matthew Pottinger, former deputy director for the National Security Council, and Sarah Matthews, then deputy press secretary.

The panel is also expected to show ample footage of its July 8 deposition with former White House counsel Pat Cipollone, who was one of the few figures to confront Trump in the White House during the riot.   

The other major players in the White House that day — figures likely to be featured on Thursday — include Mark Meadows, Trump’s former chief of staff; Cassidy Hutchinson, a top Meadows aide; and Ivanka Trump, Trump’s elder daughter. 

Who’s taking the lead? Reps. Elaine Luria (D-Va.) and Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) will play an elevated role in walking through the evidence of the hearing. 

“It’s pretty simple: He was doing nothing to actually stop the riot,” Luria said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”   

Will there be more? Although Thursday’s hearing will cap the topics the committee had outlined at the outset, lawmakers have said it’s unlikely to be its last. The panel also plans additional hearings to introduce an interim report in the fall and may also hold additional hearings prior to that release. 

Read more here.  

Check out other coverage ahead of the hearing:

Pelosi says Biden hasn’t warned her on trip to Taiwan

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday that President Biden has not talked to her directly about an official trip to Taiwan she’s reportedly set to take during Congress’s long August break.  

What Biden said: After returning from a trip to Massachusetts on Wednesday, Biden told reporters that the military expressed concerns about the Speaker’s reported plans to go to Taiwan.  

“I think that the military thinks it’s not a good idea right now. But I don’t know what the status of it is,” Biden told reporters after returning from a trip where he announced new climate actions.

The Speaker’s response: Speaking to reporters in the Capitol on Thursday, Pelosi declined to confirm that the trip was happening — “You never even hear me say if I’m going to London, because it is a security issue,” she said — while suggesting the Pentagon’s concern is that Beijing would attack her plane, rather than allow it to land in Taipei.  

“I think what the president was saying is that maybe the military was afraid that our plane would get shot down, or something like that, by the Chinese,” she said. “I don’t know exactly. I didn’t see it. I didn’t hear it.”  

“You’re telling me and I heard it anecdotally,” she added. “But I haven’t heard it from the president.” 

A warning from Beijing: Pelosi’s scheduled trip to Taiwan, first reported by the Financial Times, quickly caught the attention of Chinese leaders, who are warning of stiff, if unnamed, repercussions if she goes through with it. 

“If the United States insists on having its own way, China will take strong measures in response to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” said Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian, according to Reuters. “All possible consequences that arise from this will completely be borne by the U.S. side.” 

Read more here.  

US, allies may provide new fighter jets to Ukraine

The United States and its allies are considering providing Ukraine with new fighter jets in ongoing efforts to bolster its military as the war with Russia stretches into its sixth month, Gen. Charles Brown, chief of staff of the Air Force, said on Wednesday. 

Speaking at the Aspen Security Forum in an interview with Courtney Kube, a Pentagon correspondent for NBC News, Brown said the jets could come from a range of different allies. 

“There’s a number of different platforms that could go to Ukraine. … It’ll be something non-Russian. I could probably tell you that,” Brown said. “But I can’t tell you exactly what it’s going to be.” 

Among the options Brown mentioned were U.S. fighter jets, Swedish Gripen fighters, the Eurofighter Typhoon and French Rafale fighters. 

Read more here.

ON TAP FOR TOMORROW

The last day of the Aspen Security Forum will start at 9 a.m.

WHAT WE’RE READING

That’s it for today! Check out The Hill’s Defense and National Security pages for the latest coverage. See you tomorrow!

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Tags Biden biden foreign policy capitol breach fighter jets Ivanka Trump Jan. 6 Capitol riot Nancy Pelosi Nancy Pelosi Pat Cipollone Taiwan Ukraine invasion US-China relations
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