Jan. 6 investigators release new findings

Select committee wraps first public hearing, previews the rest

Chairman U.S. Representative Bennie Thompson (D-MS) speaks next to Vice Chair U.S. Representative Liz Cheney (R-WY) during the opening public hearing of the U.S. House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the United States Capitol, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 9, 2022.

Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

The select committee finished its first public hearing on the initial findings from its investigation of the Capitol riot, laying out a dramatic narrative of a conspiracy to overturn the 2020 presidential election and hinting at much more to come.

Vice Chair Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., previewed all seven hearings that the committee plans to hold, promising to present evidence of a “sophisticated seven-part plan to overturn the presidential election” that was overseen by former President Donald Trump.

Trump, in a social media message after the hearing, criticized the committee for not showing “the many positive witnesses and statements” and playing “only negative footage.”

The hearings are set to take place over the next few weeks. Four have been officially announced so far.

Here is the hearing schedule so far:

  • Thursday, June 9, at 8 p.m. ET
  • Monday, June 13, at 10 a.m. ET
  • Wednesday, June 15, at 10 a.m. ET
  • Thursday, June 16, at 1 p.m. ET

Kevin Breuninger

Trump’s PAC drops $500,000 on ads slamming Biden and Jan. 6 probe

Former President Donald Trump’s political action committee is spending $500,000 on attack ads slamming the House select committee and President Joe Biden, an aide to Trump told CNBC.

The Save America PAC is buying television and digital ad space for four days starting Thursday, with a focus on “key weekend and Sunday morning programming,” the aide said.

A 30-second video, which will air nationally on television, features a voiceover accusing Biden of “failing badly” on numerous hot-button political issues, including inflation, illegal immigration and a shortage in baby formula. The speaker then claims “the Democrat Congress” is “spending millions on another partisan witch hunt.”

The ad includes grainy photos of Biden and Democratic lawmakers, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, along with members of the select committee, all backed by ominous music. It ends with a clip of Trump saluting.

Brian Schwartz and Kevin Breuninger

Proud Boys membership increased ‘exponentially’ after Trump told them to ‘stand back and stand by’

Membership in the far-right extremist group the Proud Boys shot up after former President Donald Trump told the group to “stand back and stand by” during a debate with his then-rival Joe Biden in September 2020, a member of the group told the select committee.

The group’s numbers increased “exponentially” after the comment, said Proud Boy Jeremy Bertino in a taped deposition with the select committee.

“I’d say tripled, probably,” Bertino said in a clip of the interview, “with the potential for a lot more, eventually.”

After Trump refused to condemn the group during that debate, then-Proud Boys Chairman Enrique Tarrio responded on social media, “Standing by sir.”

Select committee Vice Chair Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., said in her opening remarks that the Proud Boys “ultimately led the invasion of the Capitol and the violence that day.”

Kevin Breuninger

How Republicans are countering the hearings

President Donald Trump greets House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., as he arrives at an event to announce that Broadcom is moving its global headquarters to the United States, in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, DC on Thursday, Nov. 02, 2017.

Jabin Botsford | The Washington Post | Getty Images

Unlike Trump’s two impeachment trials, when prosecutors’ allegations against the then-president were countered in real time by his defense team, the select committee’s hearings will be uninterrupted by its critics.

Republicans aiming to undercut the committee plan are instead taking their arguments directly to the media.

“It is the most political and least legitimate committee in American history,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said of the Jan. 6 probe at a press conference Thursday morning.

“And let’s be honest, it is a smokescreen for Democrats to push their radical agenda,” McCarthy added, accusing his opponents of using the probe to try to abolish the Electoral College. He also slammed Democrats for ignoring an array of hot-button political issues, including what he called “left-wing mob violence” that occurred at some protests in 2020.

Other top Republicans are also working to hobble the hearings. “I am working closely with President Trump, Leader Kevin McCarthy, Jim Jordan, and my colleagues to help lead House Republicans in pushing back against lame-duck Speaker Pelosi’s sham political witch-hunt,” Rep. Elise Stefanik, the No. 3 Republican in the House, told Fox News this week.

Fox reportedly does not plan to air the hearings live on its main channel, and will instead hand that coverage over to Fox Business, which typically draws far fewer viewers.

Since it began, top Republicans have characterized the House investigation into the Capitol riot as a partisan vehicle for Democrats to smear Trump and his supporters.

The nine-member panel includes two Republicans — Wyoming’s Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, both of whom voted to impeach Trump. House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy pulled all five of his picks for the panel after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rejected two of them.

McCarthy and Rep. Jim Jordan, one of the two Republicans Pelosi rejected for the panel, argued in a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed that the select committee is “weaponizing government to attack Republicans.”

Both McCarthy and Jordan have been subpoenaed after refusing to cooperate voluntarily with the investigation.

Kevin Breuninger

Trump tweeted that Jan. 6 ‘will be wild’ after meeting with Powell, Giuliani and Flynn at White House

Sidney Powell, an attorney later disavowed by the Trump campaign, participates in a news conference with U.S. President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani at the Republican National Committee headquarters on Capitol Hill in Washington, November 19, 2020.

Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

Former President Donald Trump issued a “pivotal” tweet that “led to the planning” for the Jan. 6 riot shortly after meeting with General Michael Flynn, Sidney Powell, Rudy Giuliani at the White House, select committee Vice Chair Liz Cheney said.

The group discussed “a number of dramatic steps” during the Dec. 18, 2020, meeting, “including having the military seize voting machines, and potentially rerun elections,” Cheney said in her opening statement.

Cheney, who was previewing information that will be presented at an upcoming hearing, said that “a little more than an hour” after that group left the White House, Trump tweeted out a call for people to come to Washington on Jan. 6, 2021. “Be there, will be wild!” Trump tweeted.

“As you will see, this was a pivotal moment,” Cheney said. “This tweet initiated a chain of events. The tweet led to the planning for what occurred on January 6, including by the Proud Boys who ultimately led the invasion of the Capitol and the violence that day.”

Kevin Breuninger

Watch new footage of the Capitol riot

The select committee capped off its opening statements by airing new footage of the violence that unfolded during the Capitol riot.

The video spliced together clips showing rioters rushing toward the Capitol, swarming police officers and attacking them with weapons.

The final clip of the video showed rioters beating officers with hockey sticks and other objects. At the same time, Trump is heard defending the mob during a Fox News interview more than six months after the riot: “These were peaceful people. They were great people. The crowd was unbelievable. And I mention the word love, the love in the air, I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Kevin Breuninger

Jared Kushner said he considered White House counsel’s repeated threats to resign to ‘just be whining’

Former White House senior adviser Jared Kushner is seen on video during the hearing of the U.S. House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the United States Capitol, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 9, 2022.

Elizabeth Frantz | Reuters

Former senior White House advisor Jared Kushner said he considered White House counsel Pat Cipollone’s repeated threats to resign in the weeks before the Capitol riot to “just be whining.”

The remarks from Kushner, the son-in-law of ex-President Donald Trump, were made during a taped interview with the select committee, a portion of which was played during the opening statement of Vice Chair Liz Cheney, R-Wyo.

“The White House Counsel was so concerned about potentially lawless activity, he threatened to resign, multiple times. That is exceedingly rare and exceedingly serious. It requires immediate attention, especially when the entire team threatens to resign,” Cheney said.

“However, in the Trump White House, it was not exceedingly rare and it was not treated seriously,” she said.

In the clip, Kushner is asked: “Jared, are you aware of instances where Pat Cippilone threatened to resign?”

Kushner responded, “I kind of, like I said, my interest at that time was on trying to get as many pardons done, and I know that he was always, him and the team, were always saying, ‘Oh, we are going to resign. We are not going to be here if this happens, if that happens.'”

“So, I kind of took it up to just be whining, to be honest with you,” Kushner said.

Kevin Breuninger

Cheney says Trump and his advisors knew he lost election

Committee Vice Chair U.S. Representative Liz Cheney (R-WY) gives her opening statement during the public hearing of the U.S. House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the United States Capitol, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 9, 2022.

Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

Select committee Vice Chair Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., said former President Donald Trump “knew that he had, in fact, lost the election” — but still pushed false information to convince the public that the race had been stolen from him.

Cheney said that the committee would delve deeper into this facet of the investigation during the second hearing, scheduled for Monday.

Her opening statement was peppered with clips of testimony from people close to Trump recalling how they told the former president he lost the election and they couldn’t find evidence of voter fraud.

Those people included ex-Trump Attorney General William Barr, campaign spokesman Jason Miller and Trump campaign lawyer Alex Cannon.

Former U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr is seen on video during his deposition for the public hearing of the U.S. House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the United States Capitol, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 9, 2022. 

Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

Her speech also included a clip of Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, saying that she “accepted” Barr’s assessment that the Department of Justice found no evidence of electoral fraud sufficient to overturn the election.

Kevin Breuninger

Thompson says Trump ‘at the center’ of conspiracy to overturn 2020 election

U.S. President Donald Trump gestures as he speaks during a rally to contest the certification of the 2020 U.S. presidential election results by the U.S. Congress, in Washington, U.S, January 6, 2021.

Jim Bourg | Reuters

Former President Donald Trump was “at the center” of a conspiracy to overturn his loss to President Joe Biden in the 2020 election, select committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said.

Trump lost the election, and then lost dozens of court battles to challenge the election results in key states, Thompson said.

“But for Donald Trump, that was only the beginning of what became a sprawling, multi-step conspiracy aimed at overturning the Presidential election aimed at throwing out the votes of millions of Americans — your votes, your voice in our democracy — and replacing the will of the American people with his will to remain in power after his term ended,” Thompson said.

“Donald Trump was at the center of this conspiracy,” Thompson said.

“And 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,” he added.

The Capitol riot was the culmination of an attempted coup, Thompson said.

“A brazen attempt, as one rioter put it shortly after January 6th, ‘to overthrow the Government,'” he said. “The violence was no accident. It represented Trump’s last, most desperate chance to halt the transfer of power.”

Kevin Breuninger

Thompson says Trump was first president in 220 years to try to thwart transfer of power

A man breaks a window as a mob of supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump storm the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, January 6, 2021.

Leah Millis | Reuters

Select committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said former President Donald Trump’s refusal to concede the 2020 election was the first time in 220 years since a U.S. president tried to thwart the peaceful transfer of power.

That precedent “had stood for 220 years, even as our democracy has faced its most difficult tests,” Thompson said.

The chairman touched on Civil War history and contrasted Trump with former President Abraham Lincoln. He said Lincoln believed in 1864 that he would lose his reelection bid. Lincoln thought his general, George McClellan, who was running against him in the election, would surrender if he won.

“But even with that grim fate hanging in the balance, President Lincoln was ready to accept the will of the voters, come what may,” Thompson said.

Lincoln made a pledge “to uphold the rule of law” and do “what every other president who came before him did, and what every president who followed him would do. Until Donald Trump,” Thompson said.

Kevin Breuninger

Thompson says ‘the scheme’ to undermine democracy is still a threat

Chairman U.S. Representative Bennie Thompson (D-MS) speaks during in the opening public hearing of the U.S. House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the United States Capitol, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 9, 2022.

Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

Select committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., in his opening statement warned that the scheme to “undermine the will of the people” did not end on Jan. 6, 2021.

“Our work must do much more than just look backwards. Because our democracy remains in danger,” Thompson said in kicking off the first public hearing.

“The conspiracy to thwart the will of the people is not over,” he said.

“We can’t sweep what happened under the rug. The American people deserve answers. So I come before you this evening not as a Democrat, but as an American who swore an oath to defend the Constitution,” he said. “The constitution doesn’t protect just Democrats or just Republicans. It protects all of us: ‘We the People.’ And this scheme was an attempt to undermine the will of the people.”

He said there are people “who thirst for power but have no love or respect for what makes America great: devotion to the Constitution, allegiance to the rule of law, our shared journey to build a more perfect Union.”

The Capitol riot “and the lies that led to insurrection” have put 250 years of democracy at risk,” he said.

“The world is watching what we do here. America has long been expected to be a shining city on a hill. A beacon of hope and freedom,” he said.

“We must confront the truth with candor, resolve, and determination. We need to show that we are worthy of the gifts that are the birthright of every American,” Thompson said.

Kevin Breuninger

Thompson says a lot of the video hasn’t been seen by the public

Chair of the House January 6th Committee Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) speaks during an event about the COMPETES Act at the U.S. Capitol on February 4, 2022 in Washington, DC.

Drew Angerer | Getty Images

Select Committee Chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said that “a lot” of the video and some of the witness testimony to be presented at the first hearing will be new.

“We’ll show some never before seen video that we have uncovered, and we’ll just tell the story,” Thompson told reporters by the House floor Thursday morning.

“We’ll have significant video of some people who’ve been charged, some people who have been convicted, some people who pled guilty,” Thompson said.

“A lot of the video will be [the] first ever video seen by the public,” he said. “Some of the testimony will be testimony to our knowledge that’s never been seen by the public.”

Asked whether Thursday’s hearing will include video testimony from Trump’s family members, Thompson replied, “It’s under consideration.”

He added that the hearing may be emotional — especially for one witness, Capitol Police officer Caroline Edwards, “because it would be recalling what she actually encountered during January 6, and how the road to recovery has been difficult.”

Kevin Breuninger

FBI arrests GOP candidate on Capitol riot-related charges

A man, identified as Ryan Kelley in a sworn statement by an FBI agent, gestures as supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump make their way past barriers at the U.S. Capitol during a protest against the certification of the 2020 U.S. presidential election results by the U.S. Congress, in Washington, U.S., January 6, 2021. 

Jim Urquhart | Reuters

Hours before the hearing, Michigan Republican gubernatorial candidate Ryan Kelley was arrested by the FBI on misdemeanor charges related to his involvement in the Jan. 6 riot.

Kelley, 40, was arrested Thursday morning in his home town of Allendale, Mich., the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia confirmed.

Kelley faces charges of knowingly entering a restricted building or grounds without lawful authority, disorderly conduct, engaging in physical violence against a person or property on restricted grounds and willfully injuring U.S. property, according to the DOJ’s criminal complaint.

In a statement of facts, an FBI special agent said Kelley was part of a crowd of people outside the U.S. Capitol who were assaulting and pushing past law enforcement officers defending the building on Jan. 6, 2021.

Kelley has previously said he was in Washington on the day of the riot, but never entered the Capitol, multiple outlets have reported.

A message to Kelley’s campaign requesting comment was not immediately answered.

Kevin Breuninger

What will the hearing reveal?

An image of President Donald Trump appears on video screens before his speech to supporters from the Ellipse at the White House in Washington on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, as the Congress prepares to certify the electoral college votes.

Bill Clark | CQ-Roll Call, Inc. | Getty Images

The select committee promises that its first public hearing will include new material illustrating a conspiracy to overturn the 2020 election results and showing that former President Donald Trump “was at the center of that effort.”

That new information may come from witness testimony, as well as from video, audio or other documentary evidence. At least two witnesses are set to speak in person at Thursday’s hearing. The panel will also share testimony from prior witness interviews.

Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., is hoping to illustrate the significance of the riot in U.S. history, according to aides who briefed reporters ahead of the hearing. The committee will also preview what to expect over the next few weeks of hearings.

The aides stressed that all of the upcoming hearings represent only the initial findings of the committee, and that “the investigation is ongoing.”

They noted that the panel is required to issue a final report, which Thompson has indicated may arrive by the fall.

Kevin Breuninger

What is the format of the public hearing?

The select committee’s first public hearing is slated to begin at 8 p.m. ET. It will take place in a meeting room in Cannon House Office Building on Capitol Hill.

A committee aide told reporters to expect opening statements from the panel’s chairman, Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., and its vice chair, Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo.

After that, the panel will show “substantive” multimedia presentations, as well as a portion of the hearing dedicated to live witness testimony, the aide said.

The panel tapped former ABC News executive James Goldston to help produce the proceedings, indicating to some that the goal of the hearings is to craft a clear, compelling narrative about the Capitol riot that draws in the public and lands with maximum impact.

Kevin Breuninger

Which witnesses will be speaking?

Supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump clash with police officers in front of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, U.S. January 6, 2021.

Stephanie Keith | Reuters

The select committee has announced two witnesses who will speak in person at the hearing about their experiences on the day of the Capitol riot.

One of them is U.S. Capitol Police officer Caroline Edwards, who was injured in the riot and suffered a traumatic brain injury. “She was the first law enforcement officer injured by the rioters as they were storming the Capitol grounds,” a committee aide told reporters in a preview of the first hearing.

The other live witness is Nick Quested, a British documentary filmmaker who took footage of the first moments of violence against police officers at the Capitol, the aide said. Quested had been following the far-right group the Proud Boys on the day of the riot.

The live witnesses will recount what they saw and heard from the rioters during the invasion itself, according to the aide.

The committee will also present previously unseen records and tape from prior witness interviews, including senior Trump administration officials, campaign aides and family members of the former Republican president.

“The witnesses will tell the story in large part,” the aide said. “I think you’ll find that the facts will speak for themselves as we lay them out.”

Kevin Breuninger

The scope of the Jan. 6 probe

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), vice-chair of the select committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol, speaks during a business meeting on Capitol Hill on December 13, 2021 in Washington, DC.

Anna Moneymaker | Getty Images

The House select committee was formed last summer, after Senate Republicans blocked a vote that would have empowered a team of independent investigators to study the Capitol riot similar to the 9/11 Commission.

Since its work began, the select committee has conducted interviews with more than 1,000 people, an aide for the panel told reporters Wednesday.

The investigators have also obtained more than 140,000 documents, and they are still following up on nearly 500 substantive tips, the aide said.

The aide noted that “the investigation is ongoing,” and “everything remains on the table for what we may see down the road.” The committee is required to produce a final report and issue recommendations based on its findings.

Kevin Breuninger

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