US grapples with Trump’s role in Capitol attack after House panel airs evidence – live

If there was one takeaway from last night’s January 6 committee hearings, it could be: all roads lead back to Trump. The committee showed evidence that centered on what happened at the Capitol, while taking testimony from two people who had no affiliation with the White House. But the former president nonetheless cast a long shadow over the crowded hearing room.


Liz Cheney, one of the committee’s two Republican members, aired evidence that the former president endorsed calls to hang his vice-president, Mike Pence, for refusing to block the certification of Joe Biden’s election win.

The lawmakers also revealed that top Trump officials didn’t even believe the then-president’s claims. Attorney general William Barr, it turns out, thought the fraud allegations were “bullshit”. So did Trump’s daughter, drawing a response from the former president on his social network today.

Then there were the insurrectionists themselves. Robert Schornak, who has been sentenced to 36 months of probation for his role in the insurrection, summed up their sentiment well: “Trump has only asked me for two things. He asked me for my vote, and he asked me to come on January 6.”

The committee will meet again on June 13th, at 10 am eastern. You can read more about last night’s events in The Guardian’s coverage here:

House January 6 panel shows it still has surprises in store in televised hearing

Analysis: Committee presented evidence that Trump said Pence ‘deserved’ hanging and Republicans in Congress sought pardons

An image of a noose and gallows that were outside of the US Capitol on January 6 is displayed on a screen during the first public January 6 committee hearing.
An image of a noose and gallows outside the US Capitol on January 6 is displayed on a screen during the first public January 6 committee hearing. Photograph: Win McNamee/Getty Images

The House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection proved on Thursday night that it still has bombshells to share with the country despite a year of inquiry and intermittent revelations from behind closed doors.

In its first public hearing, in prime time, the committee also laid the groundwork for its argument that Donald Trump played a central role in the planning of the deadly insurrection.

The first public hearing of the January 6 House committee will take place Thursday, 9 June 2022.

The hearing included several new revelations that surprised even those who have been closely following the committee’s work.

The Republican vice-chair of the committee, Liz Cheney, revealed one witness told investigators that Trump made comments endorsing insurrectionists’ chants to hang Mike Pence over his refusal to block the certification by Congress of Democrat Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 election.

According to the witness, Trump responded to news of the chants with this sentiment: “Maybe our supporters have the right idea. Mike Pence deserves it.”

Cheney also said “multiple” Republican members of Congress, including Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, sought pre-emptive pardons from Trump in connection to their role on January 6. Perry, who has refused to comply with the committee’s subpoena, denied the allegation.

Even though a number of high-profile witnesses have rejected the committee’s requests for information, the hearing underscored how many of Trump’s closest allies have already spoken to investigators.

The committee played clips of its interviews with top Trump administration officials – including former attorney general William Barr and chairman of the joint chiefs of staff Mark Milley – and some of the former president’s family members – such as his eldest daughter and senior adviser, Ivanka Trump, and her husband, Jared Kushner.

Milley told the committee that Pence, not Trump, called during the attack to plead for military help as police officers outside and inside the Capitol were overwhelmed by the mob of extremist Trump supporters.

Milley said he did not receive a call from the president that day. But he did hear from Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, who asked for help dispelling concerns that Trump wasn’t in charge.

“When a president fails to take the steps necessary to preserve our Union – or worse, causes a constitutional crisis – we’re in a moment of maximum danger for our republic,” Cheney said.

In his interview with investigators, Barr explained how he told Trump in November and in early and mid December 2020, well before the insurrection, that the-then president’s claims of widespread election fraud robbing him of victory were entirely baseless.

“I made it clear I did not agree with the idea of saying the election was stolen and putting out this stuff, which I told the president was bullshit,” Barr said.

The committee then revealed that Ivanka Trump had said she accepted Barr’s conclusion, even as her father continued to spread lies about election fraud in the weeks leading up to January 6.

“I respect Attorney General Barr, so I accepted what he was saying,” Ivanka Trump told investigators.

The testimony shared during the hearing reflected the committee’s painstaking efforts to prove that Trump knew his election lies were lies, even as he told his supporters to come to Washington on January 6.

“Statistically impossible to have lost the 2020 Election,” Trump tweeted on 19 December. “Big protest in DC on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!”

The hearing comes as the committee has accused Trump and his associates of having engaged in a “criminal conspiracy” to prevent the congressional certification of Biden’s victory on 6 January 2021.

Several people who are now facing criminal charges or have already been sentenced in connection to the insurrection explicitly told the House committee that they came to Washington on that fateful day because of Trump’s encouragement.

Robert Schornak, who has been sentenced to 36 months of probation for his role in the insurrection, told investigators: “Trump has only asked me for two things. He asked me for my vote, and he asked me to come on January 6.”

Vice-chair Liz Cheney and chairman Bennie Thompson preside over the first public hearing of the House select committee investigating the January 6 attack on the US Capitol.
Vice-chair Liz Cheney and chairman Bennie Thompson preside over the first public hearing of the House January 6 committee. Photograph: Rex/Shutterstock

The violent footage of the insurrection shared by the committee, much of it never before shown publicly, emphasized how Trump’s words played a key role in the attack. In one clip, a rioter with a bullhorn on the steps of the Capitol, with the mob streaming past him, is seen yelling out Trump’s tweet criticizing Pence for refusing to block the certification of the election results, just moments after the president had posted it.

At 2.24pm on January 6, just after the vice-president was escorted out of the Senate chamber due to safety concerns after rioters broke into the Capitol, Trump tweeted: “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. USA demands the truth!”

Bennie Thompson, the Mississippi Democratic congressman and chair of the committee, said the panel’s next hearing on Monday would focus on “the lies that convinced those men and others to storm the Capitol to try to stop the transfer of power”.

“We’re going to take a close look at the first part of Trump’s attack on the rule of law when he lit the fuse that ultimately resulted in the violence of January 6,” Thompson said.

The committee will now have five more opportunities to convince the public that Trump bears personal responsibility for a deadly attack on the US Capitol. Although Trump was impeached by the House for inciting the insurrection, he was acquitted by the Senate, leaving many of his critics feeling as though he was not held accountable for his actions.

If the committee is successful in building its case against Trump, the hearings could deliver a devastating blow to the former president’s hopes of making a political comeback in the 2024 presidential election. But if Americans are unmoved by the committee’s findings, the country faces the specter of another attempted coup, Thompson warned.

“Our democracy remains in danger. The conspiracy to thwart the will of the people is not over,” Thompson said on Thursday. “January 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.”

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