Among the evidence presented during the prime-time televised hearing were clips of video interviews the commission conducted with some of Trump’s top aides.
One of the most powerful was that of former Attorney General Bill Barr, who made clear to Trump that he believed his claims about a stolen election were “bullshit.”
“I made it clear that I didn’t agree with the idea of saying the election was stolen and putting out stuff like this that I told the president was bullshit,” Barr recalled to Trump.
“I didn’t want to be a part of it, and that’s one of the reasons I decided what I was doing.”
Barr’s views were supported by Ivanka, Trump’s favorite child, who was the president’s special adviser.
“I respect Attorney General Barr. So I accepted what he said,” she told the committee in a video testimonial.
Tonight’s opener also featured several new revelations from Cheney and Democratic Chairman Bennie Thompson, which they said would be worked out in further hearings in the coming weeks.
One of the most damning was that the committee received testimony that when Trump learned of his supporters’ threats to hang Vice President Mike Pence, he said, “Maybe our supporters have the right idea” and that Pence “deserves it.” “.
The commission also played a video montage of the riots themselves, highlighting some of the most dramatic moments – including the key role of the right-wing militia group the Proud Boys, whose leader Enrique Tarrio has since been charged for his role in the attack.
This came in the context of the September 2020 presidential debate in which Trump infamously told the Proud Boys to “step back and stand by”.
As part of its evidence tonight, the commission showed a message Tarrio posted to Parler shortly after that statement, which read, “Stand by sir.”
Two key witnesses also provided new evidence: U.S. Capitol police officer Caroline Edwards, who suffered a traumatic brain injury during the attack, as well as documentary filmmaker Nick Quested, who was embedded with the Proud Boys that day, providing first-hand accounts of how the mob was roaming. changed “from protesters, to rioters, to insurgents.”
Footage was played of Edwards standing guard at a barricade on the edge of the Capitol lawn, along with several other officers—none of them in riot gear.
Minutes later, as the crowd rushed forward, Edwards was driven back, her head hitting the concrete steps.
“Never in my wildest dream did I think that as a police officer, as a law enforcement officer, I would find myself in the middle of a battle,” she told the commission.
“It was like I’d seen in the movies. I could not believe my eyes. There were officers on the ground, they were bleeding, they were vomiting, they had friends’ blood all over their faces… It was a bloodbath, chaos.”
Tonight’s hearing was the first of at least six public hearings to take place in the coming weeks before a final report is released in September, two months after the midterm elections.
However, any criminal activity brought to light must be referred to the Justice Department headed by Attorney General Merrick Garland.
Meanwhile, Republicans have already tried to characterize the hearing as illegitimate and instead have tried to focus on Biden’s political woes.
“Democrats are using January 6 to avoid responsibility for the worst inflation since 1981, record high gas prices that have doubled since Biden took office, historic crime and open borders,” said aspiring House speaker Kevin McCarthy.
To get a note directly from our foreign correspondents about what makes headlines around the world. Sign up here for the weekly What in the World newsletter†