Pro-Trump demonstrators gather in front of the US Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. on January 6, 2021. The certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory over President Trump in the 2020 election drew Trump supporters to the nation’s capital.
Following that, a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol, smashing windows and fighting with police officers. As a result, five individuals died. (Getty Images/Brent Stirton)
The U.S. House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the United States Capitol heard allegations that two groups supporting then-President Donald Trump planned the riot to prevent the transfer of presidential power — while Trump tacitly endorsed the insurgency and was unconcerned about calls to hang then-Vice President Mike Pence.
Leaders of the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol spoke for nearly two hours in front of a prime-time television audience on the role of the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers. Both are far-right organisations with a history of violence and inflammatory speech that backed Trump.
Bennie Thompson, Chair of the House Committee on the 6th of January, and Liz Cheney, Vice-Chair of the House Committee on the 6th of January. Image courtesy of C-SPAN.
Chairman Bennie G. Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat, and Vice-Chair Liz Cheney, a Wyoming Republican, both targeted Trump and congressional Republicans, with several — including Pennsylvania’s Scott Perry — later seeking presidential pardons for their roles in the attack, according to Cheney.
Perry’s representatives did not respond to an email requesting a comment on Thursday night.
Cheney, one of two Republicans on the nine-member panel, was forced to resign from the House Republican leadership after criticising Trump.
In his opening address, Cheney added, “Tonight, I say this to my Republican colleagues who are defending the indefensible: There will come a day when Donald Trump is gone.” “Your disgrace will endure.”
Thompson highlighted in his opening remarks that Trump was at the centre of it all, after his attempts in the courts to overturn the election results failed.
“However, for Donald Trump, that was just the start of a multi-step plot aimed at reversing the presidential election… targeted at overturning millions of Americans’ ballots — your votes, your voice in our democracy — and replacing the will of the American people with his desire to stay in power after his term expired,” Thompson said.
“Donald Trump was at the heart of the plot.”
“And, in the end, Donald Trump — the president of the United States — inspired a mob of domestic constitutional foes to march toward the Capitol and undermine American democracy,” Thompson added.
The session is the first of several that will take place throughout June as the committee presents its evidence of the attack.
For their actions in breaking into the Capitol, many members of the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers have been charged with seditious conspiracy.
The panel provided details of the groups’ preparation and engagement on Thursday, which they claimed was critical to the attack’s success.
Cheney stated, “The attack on our Capitol was not a spontaneous uprising.”
According to evidence obtained by documentary filmmaker Nick Quested, a hearing witness, Enrique Tarrio, the head of the Proud Boys, and Stewart Rhodes, the leader of the Oath Keepers, met in a Washington parking garage the night before the Capitol attack.
Tarrio was also caught on film saying the two factions were “fighting the same fight,” according to Quested.
Quested said he was startled to see Proud Boys heading to the Capitol instead of Trump’s speech from the Ellipse, near the White House, on the morning of Jan. 6.
On Jan. 6, a group of Proud Boys broke into a line of bike racks outside the Capitol, according to a video shown by the committee.
U.S. Capitol Police Officer Caroline Edwards and Nick Quested, a documentary filmmaker embedded with the Proud Boys, a far-right militia group, testify during a hearing before the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol.
On the west side of the Capitol, the Proud Boys were among those fighting the US Capitol Police officers. Proud Boys Joseph Biggs and Ryan Samsel broke down barricades, according to one officer, Caroline Edwards, who spoke before the committee on Thursday.
Edwards was attempting to keep barricades in place when she was pushed backwards and collapsed, losing consciousness.
According to a video shown by the committee on Thursday, a Proud Boys member later shattered a window, allowing rioters to enter the Capitol.
Changing the course of history
Trump did not contact his Defense Secretary or Attorney General to stop the strike on Jan. 6, according to Cheney.
According to her, he became enraged with aides who implored him to do anything to quiet the protestors.
“When the president heard the rioters’ chants to hang Mike Pence, he thought, ‘Maybe our fans have the right idea,'” Cheney added. “Mike Pence ‘deserved it,'” says the author.
One of the goals of the hearing, according to Thompson, was to remind the American people about what transpired on January 6.
Trump supporters, including members of Congress, have worked to “rewrite history” during the last 17 months, Thompson said, downplaying the gravity of the attempted coup.
“We’re going to remind you of the reality of what happened that day tonight and throughout the coming two weeks,” he stated. “However, our job must go beyond simply looking backwards. Our democracy’s cause is still in jeopardy.”
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Ivanka Trump, the former president’s daughter, was also shown on the panel, and she claimed Barr’s opinions on the absence of fraud were convincing to her.
The panel’s next meeting is scheduled for Monday at 10 a.m.