For months, the panel worked behind closed doors to deal with the storming of the US Capitol. The committee is now presenting the results of its investigations for the first time.
The committee of inquiry into the storming of the US Capitol has revealed new insights into the background to the attack in a much-noticed first public hearing and has further incriminated ex-President Donald Trump.
At the meeting, which was broadcast live by various television channels during prime time on Thursday evening (local time), the panel showed, among other things, previously unpublished video material and excerpts from interviews with former members of the Trump administration. For example, then-Attorney General William Barr described Trump’s allegations of electoral fraud as “bullshit”.
Accusation: Trump drove angry mob
Committee members accused Trump of fueling angry mobs with his allegations of fraud. Committee chairman Bennie Thompson spoke of an “attempted coup” and warned that democracy in the United States was still in danger.
On January 6, 2021, supporters of the then Republican President Trump stormed the seat of parliament in the capital Washington. They wanted to prevent Democrat Joe Biden’s November 2020 election victory from being confirmed. Several people died in the attack and dozens were injured.
Trump had recently incited his supporters at a rally that his election victory had been stolen. The president therefore had to face impeachment proceedings, at the end of which he was acquitted. The Congressional Committee of Inquiry was set up in the summer of 2021 to investigate the background to the attack on the Capitol.
Cheney: Trump ‘ignited flame of attack’
Deputy committee chair Liz Cheney, Republican and Trump critic, said the attack was “not a spontaneous uprising.” “President Trump summoned the mob, gathered the mob, and lit the flame of this attack.” For months, Trump coordinated an elaborate plan to overturn the outcome of the presidential election and prevent the transfer of power to his successor.
The investigative committee had interviewed hundreds of witnesses behind closed doors for months and examined large amounts of documents and evidence. In the public session, excerpts of the surveys were shown for the first time – including those by Barr. In it, the ex-Attorney General said, regarding Trump’s allegations of voter fraud, that he had had several conversations with him on the subject. “I have made it clear that I do not agree with the claims that the election was stolen and the spreading of this stuff that I told the President was ‘bullshit’. » Barr called such claims “crazy.”
The committee also showed the video recording of an interview with Trump’s daughter Ivanka. When asked about Barr’s statements, she said his assessment certainly had an impact on her perspective. You respect Barr. “So I accepted what he said.”
The panel revealed that Trump spoke positively about threats by his supporters against Vice President Mike Pence during the storming of the Capitol. Cheney, citing findings from the panel, said Trump knew about the threats and said, “Maybe our supporters have the right idea.” Pence deserves it, Cheney Trump continued. On January 6, 2021, Pence, in his role as Vice President, chaired the session of Congress that confirmed Biden’s election victory. Trump’s supporters were also looking for Pence in the building at the time, calling him a traitor and threatening to hang him for failing to prevent Biden’s confirmation.
Pence has called in National Guard to assist
According to the committee, Pence was the one who ended up calling in the National Guard to help get the Capitol situation under control. This was stated by Chief of Staff Mark Milley in his survey, excerpts of which were also shown. However, the White House wanted to present it as if Trump had made the decision, it said.
Two witnesses also testified live at the committee meeting: A policewoman who had been injured in the Capitol attack told in an impressive way about her traumatic experiences. And a documentary filmmaker who accompanied members of the right-wing Proud Boys militia on the day of the attack reported on his experiences. According to the findings of the investigative committee, the “Proud Boys” and the right-wing group “Oath Keepers” played a decisive role in the attack. Some of them appeared in full combat gear and coordinated the attack. Members of both groups were arrested and charged after the storming. Most of the process is still ongoing.
Further public hearings of the panel are to follow in the coming weeks. The next meeting is scheduled for Monday.