Last night marked the first, in what will be a series, of public hearings by the House select committee charged with investigating the events surround last January 6 at the United States Capitol. This landmark set of hearings will attempt to “lay out the full story of a remarkable assault on U.S. democracy, orchestrated by a sitting president, that led to a deadly riot, an impeachment and a crisis of confidence in the political system.”
The prime-time hearing immediately grabbed viewers’ attention, starting off with never-before-seen footage from the attack that day as well as clips of videotaped testimony from some of [the] people in former President Donald Trump’s orbit, including his daughter Ivanka Trump.
The disturbing security camera footage from a birds-eye view revealed the enormous pro-Trump mob as it started swarming the Capitol grounds. The footage also showed how the crowd was prompted by Trump, with one rioter reading a Trump tweet on a megaphone for the other rioters to hear. Trump criticized Pence in the tweet for announcing that he would not overturn the results of the 2020 election. Much to Trump’s dismay, instead Pence continued to preside over the joint session of Congress to certify Joe Biden’s win.
In their powerful opening statements, committee chair and vice chair, Representative Bennie Thompson (D-MS) and Representative Liz Cheney (R-WI), laid out in stark detail “how many Trump administration officials themselves did not believe the former president’s baseless claims of a stolen election.”
“Donald Trump was at the center of this conspiracy,” Rep. Thompson said. “Ultimately, Donald Trump, the president of the United States, spurred a mob of domestic enemies of the Constitution to march down the Capitol and subvert American democracy. Our democracy remains in danger.”
Rep. Thompson continued, “Jan. 6 and the lies that led to insurrection have put two and a half centuries of constitutional democracy at risk. The world is watching what we do here.”
“You will see that Donald Trump and his advisers knew that he had in fact lost the election,” Rep. Cheney said. “But despite this, President Trump engaged in a massive effort to spread false and fraudulent information to convince huge portions of the U.S. population that fraud had stolen the election.”
Rep. Cheney did not mince words, directly calling out her fellow Republican party members: “There will come a day when Donald Trump is gone but your dishonor will remain.”
Capitol Police officer, Caroline Edwards, who suffered a traumatic brain injury at the hands of the mob, was the first witness to testify. Edwards recounted that day, testifying, “What I saw was a war scene…I saw officers on the ground. They were bleeding. They were throwing up…I was slipping on people’s blood. It was carnage. It was chaos.”
Video clip after video clip demonstrated just how desperate Trump was in the final moments of his presidency as he clung to his own false claims of election fraud, despite those closest to him telling him otherwise. In one clip, former Attorney General Bill Bar testified saying, he told Trump the claims of a rigged election were “bulls–t.”
Another showed Ivanka Trump, the former president’s own daughter, testifying that she respected Barr’s view that there was no election fraud.
“I accepted what he said.’” Ivanka said.
However other clips showed leaders of the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers extremist organizations preparing to storm the Capitol to stand up for Trump. One rioter after another told the committee they came to the Capitol “because Trump asked them to.”
Over approximately two hours, the committee spoke to a divided America. While most TV networks aired the hearing live, Fox News Channel did not.
And while these hearings may not shift public opinion on a broader scale, the findings of the panel’s investigation will stand on its own as a part of the public record.