Spotlight on Trump supporters’ assault on the US Capitol as January 6 hearings begin this week

An explosion caused by police ammunition is seen as supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump gather outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington, January 6, 2021. Congress’ investigation into the deadly assault enters a new phase this week with hearings intended to refocus attention on the violence and those who planned it. (Lea Millis, Reuters)

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WASHINGTON — The U.S. Congressional investigation into the deadly Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the Capitol by Donald Trump supporters trying to reverse his election defeat enters a new phase this week with hearings meant to refocus attention on the violence and those who planned it.

On January 6, the Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives Select Committee will attempt to reverse Republican efforts to downplay or deny the violence of the day, with five months to go until the November 8 midterm elections. that will determine which party controls Congress for the next two years.

“This was a coup by the president against the vice president and against Congress to overturn the 2020 presidential election,” said Representative Jamie Raskin, one of the Democratic members of the nine-member committee, in a recent interview.

“We’re going to tell the full story of everything that happened. There was a violent insurgency and attempted coup and we were saved by (then Vice President) Mike Pence’s refusal to follow that plan,” Raskin said.

The panel of seven Democrats and two Republicans has spent much of the last year investigating the events leading up to and leading to the attack by thousands of Trump loyalists, who stormed the building in a failed attempt to prevent Congress from officially certifying defeat in the 2020 election to President Joe. Biden.

The committee has yet to say which witnesses it will call during its Thursday hearing at 8 p.m. ET, a primetime spot intended to capture the attention of as many Americans as possible. Five more hearings are scheduled for the next two weeks.

The committee said in a statement that the hearings would “provide the American people with a summary of its findings on the multi-step coordinated effort to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election and prevent the transfer of power.”

“It’s going to be a combination of exhibits, staff testimony, outside witnesses,” the committee’s chairman, Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson, told reporters recently.

The prospects for success are unclear in a deeply divided country. A Washington Post-ABC News poll last month found that only 40% of Americans believe the committee is conducting a “fair and impartial” investigation into the attack, while 40% say it is not.

Many Americans are simply not paying attention, more concerned about inflation, a series of mass shootings and summer vacation than a bombing 18 months ago.

Closed doors, changing narrative

The panel and its dozens of investigators conducted more than 1,000 depositions and interviews and collected more than 140,000 documents.

The investigation has focused on efforts by Trump and his associates to promote his false election claims, with committee members saying the fate of American democracy hangs in the balance.

“People are going to be absolutely surprised at how much we knew,” Denver Riggleman, a former Republican congressman who worked as an adviser to the committee on CNN, said Sunday. “When you look at the totality of the evidence, it’s pretty obvious that at some point President Trump knew what was going on.”

People are going to be absolutely surprised at everything that was known.

–Denver Riggleman, former Republican congressman

Some congressional Republicans condemned Trump in the early days after the attack, but since then nearly all have changed their tune. Members of Congress refused to cooperate and disputed accounts of the riot, despite thousands of photographs and videos.

Republican Rep. Andrew Clyde of Georgia, who helped barricade the doors to the House chamber against crowds, said Trump supporters who stormed the building behaved “in an orderly fashion.”

The Republican National Committee called the assault “legitimate political discourse.”

Four people died the day of the attack, one fatally shot by police and the others from natural causes. More than 100 police officers were injured and one died the following day. Four officers later died by suicide. The Capitol suffered millions of dollars in damage.

Trump, who is publicly flirting with another run for the White House in 2024, has denied any wrongdoing and accused the committee of engaging in a political attack. He has leveled strong criticism, particularly at Rep. Liz Cheney, the panel’s Republican vice chair, as she runs for re-election.

Representative Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, the other Republican member of the panel, is retiring from Congress.

Every Republican House leader voted to overturn the 2020 election results within hours of the riot. Cheney – the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney – was removed from the Republican leadership for criticizing Trump.

House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, who refused to comply with a subpoena, called the committee invalid, for reasons including insufficient membership and the absence of a “member of official republican rank.

The June sessions will not be the committee’s first public hearings. The panel held one last July, in which police officers described being beaten, threatened and taunted with racial slurs as they faced the worst attack on the seat of the US government in more than two centuries. .

contributor:Richard Cowan

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