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Jan. 6 Hearings Will Put Trump at the Center of Plot That Resulted in Capitol Riot

WASHINGTON — The House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol attack plans to open a landmark series of public hearings on Thursday by playing a previously unreleased video of former President Donald’s top aides and relatives. J. Trump testifying for staff, as well as footage revealing the role of the Proud Boys, a right-wing extremist group, in the attack.

Committee officials say the evidence will show that Mr Trump was at the center of a “coordinated, multi-step effort to undo the results of the 2020 election,” which resulted in a crowd of his supporters filling the halls. of Congress and the official electoral count that is a crucial step in the peaceful transfer of US presidential power.

The 8:00 p.m. hearing is the first in a series of six scheduled for this month, during which the panel will explain to Americans the full scope and significance of Mr Trump’s systematic attempt to invalidate the 2020 election and the power to stay.

“We will demonstrate the multiple effort to undo a presidential election, how one strategy to undermine the election led to another, culminating in a violent attack on our democracy,” said California Democrat Adam B. Schiff, Representative. and a member of the committee. “It’s an important story and it needs to be told to make sure it never happens again.”

The opening hearing will feature live testimony from a documentary filmmaker, Nick Quested, who was embedded with the Proud Boys during the storming of the building, and a Capitol police officer, Caroline Edwards, who was injured when rioters broke through barricades and stormed in.

The committee also plans to present what aides call a small but “meaningful” portion of the taped interviews the investigators conducted with more than 1,000 witnesses, including senior Trump White House officials, campaign officials and his own family members. Mr Trump.

Mr. Trump’s eldest daughter, Ivanka Trump, his son-in-law Jared Kushner and his son Donald Trump Jr. are among the high-profile witnesses who testified before the panel.

Mr Quested, a British documentary filmmaker who has worked in war zones, including Afghanistan, spent much of the post-election period filming members of the Proud Boys, including the group’s former chairman, Enrique Tarrio, who is charged with seditious conspiracy in connection with the riot. Mr. Quested accompanied the Proud Boys to pro-Trump demonstrations in Washington in both November and December 2020, and was on the scene with members of the group on January 6, when several played a pivotal role in breaking the Capitol.

Mr. Quested was also present with a camera crew the day before the attack, when Mr. Tarrio met a small group of pro-Trump activists, including Stewart Rhodes, the founder and leader of the US Capitol, in an underground parking garage near the Capitol. Oath Keepers Militia. Late in the day on January 6, Mr. Quested and his crew at Mr. Tarrio in Baltimore, to film him responding in real time to news of the riot.

Ms. Edwards, a respected Capitol police officer, is believed to be the first officer injured in the Capitol attack when she suffered a concussion while attacking a barricade at the base of Capitol Hill. A man accused of participating in the attack, Ryan Samsel, told the FBI more than a year ago in an interview that just before approaching the barricade, a senior member of the Proud Boys, Joseph Biggs, had encouraged him to call the police. confront.

Other officers in the building recall hearing Officer Edwards radioing for help – one of the first signs that the mob violence was beginning to overwhelm the police. Months after the attack, she still had fainting spells believed to be related to her injuries.

A committee official said Mr Quested and Officer Edwards would describe their experiences, including “what they saw and heard from the rioters who tried to occupy the Capitol and try to stop the transfer of power.”

The commission’s investigators believe that Mr Quested overheard conversations between the Proud Boys during the planning for January 6.

It is expected that Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi and the committee chair, and Representative Liz Cheney, Republican of Wyoming and the vice chair, will lead the presentation of the committee’s evidence and question the witnesses.

The session will mark the start of an ambitious committee effort, formed last July after Republicans blocked the creation of an impartial committee to investigate the attack, to tell Americans the full story of an unprecedented attack on the United States. American democracy that sparked a deadly riot, an impeachment and a crisis of confidence in the political system that continues to reverberate.

The hearings are taking place five months before the midterm elections, with the majority of Democrats on the line, at a time when they’d like to draw a stark contrast between themselves and the Republicans who empowered and embraced Mr. Trump, including members of Congress who encouraged his efforts to undo the election.

Other hearings are expected to focus on various aspects of the commission’s investigation, including Mr Trump’s promotion of the lie that the election was stolen despite being told his claims were false; his attempts to abuse the Justice Department to help him stay in power; a press campaign on Vice President Mike Pence to get legitimate electoral votes for Joseph R. Biden Jr. throw away; the way the mob was gathered and how it descended on Washington DC on January 6; and the fact that Mr Trump did nothing to stop the violence for more than three hours while the attack was underway.

The committee has not yet committed to the full list of witnesses for the six televised hearings and is still discussing the possibility of public testimony with several prominent Trump-era officials.

Among the witnesses the committee has formally approached to testify next week are Jeffrey A. Rosen, the former Acting Attorney General, and Richard P. Donoghue, the former Acting Deputy Attorney General, according to two people on the case. informed.

Both Mr. Rosen and Mr. Donoghue have told multiple congressional committees that Mr. Trump and his allies pressured the department to falsely say it found voter fraud and to use his power to undo the election results. Last May, Mr. Rosen took part in public to belong of the House Oversight and Reform Committee on events leading up to the Capitol attack.

The committee is still in informal talks with Pat A. Cipollone, the former White House attorney, as well as Byung J. Pak, the former US attorney in Atlanta, who abruptly resigned on January 4, 2021, after learning that the Mr Trump planned to fire him for finding no voter fraud, according to those familiar with the discussions.

Mr. Cipollone could speak on a range of topics, including Mr. Trump’s efforts to pressure the Justice Department and his unwillingness to accept the election results, despite officials failing to report fraud again and again. have brought to light.

Mr. Pak could have information about Georgia, a battlefield state that Mr. Trump was particularly fixated on.

Alan Feuer and Katie Benner reporting contributed.

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