Jan. 6 Capitol attack committee goes prime time with probe
WASHINGTON (AP) — With never-seen video, new audio and a mass of evidence, the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol will attempt to show the “harrowing story” not only of the day’s deadly violence that erupted that day but also the chilling backstory as the defeated president, Donald Trump, tried to overturn Joe Biden’s election victory.
Thursday’s prime-time hearing will open with eyewitness testimony from the first police officer pummeled in the mob riot and from a documentary filmmaker who recorded the melee, and it will feature the committee’s accounts from Trump’s aides and family members of the deadly siege that put U.S. democracy at risk.
“When you hear and understand the wide-reaching conspiracy and the effort to try to corrupt every lever and agency of government involved in this, you know, the hair on the back of your neck should stand up,” Rep. Elaine Luria, D-Va., a member of the 1/6 committee, said in an interview with The Associated Press.
“Putting it all together in one place and one coherent narrative, I think, will help the American people understand better what happened on January 6th — and the threats that that could potentially pose in the future.”
The 1/6 panel’s yearlong investigation into the Capitol attack will begin to show how America’s tradition of a peaceful transfer of presidential power came close to slipping away. It will reconstruct how Trump refused to concede the 2020 election, spread false claims of voter fraud and orchestrated an unprecedented public and private campaign to overturn Biden’s victory.
The result of the coming weeks of public hearings may not change hearts or minds in politically polarized America. But the committee’s investigation with 1,000 interviews is intended to stand as a public record for history. A final report aims to provide an accounting of the most violent attack on the Capitol since the British set fire to it in 1814 and to ensure such an attack never happens again.
Emotions are still raw at the Capitol, and security will be tight for the hearings. Law enforcement officials are reporting a spike in violent threats against members of Congress.
Against this backdrop, the committee will try to speak to a divided America, ahead of the fall midterm elections, when voters decide which party controls Congress. Most TV networks will carry the hearings live, but Fox News Channel will not.
The committee chairman, civil rights leader Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., and vice chair Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, will set the tone with opening remarks.
The two congressional leaders will outline what the committee has learned about the events leading up to that brisk January day in 2021 when Trump sent his supporters to Congress to “fight like hell” for his presidency as lawmakers undertook the typically routine job of certifying the previous November’s results.
“People are going to have to follow two intersecting streams of events — one will be the attempt to overturn the presidential election, that’s a harrowing story in itself,” Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., a member of the committee, told the AP.
“The other will be the sequence of events leading up to a violent mob attack on the Capitol to stop the counting of Electoral College votes and block the peaceful balance of power,” he said.
First up will be wrenching accounts from police who engaged in hand-to-hand combat with the mob, with testimony from U.S. Capitol Police Officer Caroline Edwards, who was seriously injured in the attack. Also appearing Thursday will be documentary maker Nick Quested, who filmed the extremist Proud Boys storming the Capitol. Some of that group’s members have since been indicted, as have some from the Oath Keepers, on rare sedition charges over the military-style attack.