Key conclusions of US Congress hearing on January 6 Capitol riot | political news

Former President Donald Trump was a constant theme in the highly anticipated prime time congressional hearing on the January 6, 2021 U.S. Capitol riots.

The event Thursday night — more than 18 months after the attack — caught the attention of Washington, DC, as the commission charged with investigating the riot continues its investigation.

Leading Republicans had dismissed the hearing as a “witch hunt” and questioned the legitimacy of the Jan. 6 panel.

Thursday’s hearing focused largely on Trump’s role in the riots, which were carried out by his supporters who wanted to stop the certification of President Joe Biden’s election victory over false allegations of widespread election fraud.

Here’s a look at five key lessons from the hearing:

Trump’s role is central

From the beginning of the hearing to its conclusion, one name kept coming up: Donald Trump.

At every turn, the committee’s leaders emphasized the former president’s role in the riots.

Liz Cheney, vice chair of the panel and one of two Republicans on it, said Trump “assembled the crowd, gathered the crowd and lit the flame of this attack.”

“On the morning of Jan. 6, President Donald Trump intended to remain President of the United States despite the legal outcome of the 2020 election and in violation of his constitutional obligation to relinquish power,” she said.

For his part, Committee Chair Bennie Thompson accused Trump of attempting to stop the transfer of power and called the January 6 rioters “domestic enemies of the Constitution.”

“It was domestic enemies of the Constitution, who stormed the Capitol and occupied the Capitol, who tried to thwart the will of the people to stop the transfer of power,” he said. “And they did so at the encouragement of the President of the United States – the President of the United States, in an effort to stop the transfer of power.”

The panel highlighted Trump’s public statements claiming the election was illegal, as well as his efforts within the administration to undo the 2020 vote.

Attack was planned, committee says

Lawmakers stressed at the hearing that the attack on the Capitol was planned in advance, not an impromptu riot after a Trump rally near the White House.

“The attack on our Capitol was not a spontaneous riot,” Cheney said. “Intelligence available prior to Jan. 6 identified plans to invade the Capitol, occupy the Capitol, and take other steps to halt Congressional electoral numbers that day. In our upcoming hearings, we will identify elements of those plans, and we will specifically show how a group of Proud Boys led a crowd into the Capitol on January 6.”

Thompson also underlined the role of far-right groups in planning the attack.

“Two violent extremist groups have been charged with inflammatory conspiracy in connection with the Jan. 6 attack,” said committee chair Bennie Thompson, who called the groups the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys.

More hearings will further scrutinize Trump

Cheney outlined some of what to expect in future hearings. Thursday’s event was the first of seven hearings by the panel.

Cheney said future hearings will look at Trump’s actions in the run-up to the riots and how officials in his administration told the former president that allegations of voter fraud were false.

“As you will see in detail in our hearings, President Trump ignored the rulings of our nation’s courts, ignored his own campaign leadership, his White House staff, many Republican state officials, ignored the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security. Cheney said.

There will also be witnesses “to how the day went at the White House,” she said.

Cheney added that future testimony will highlight discussions within Trump’s cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove him from office.

Heidi Zhou-Castro of Al Jazeera, who reports from the US Capitol, said it appears each of the future hearings will “analyze some of what the committee says is Trump’s fault in all of this.”

Former Trump-appointed attorney general says there was no electoral fraud

William Barr, a former US Attorney General who resigned after the 2020 election, dismissed allegations of voter fraud and said he did not want to be part of that campaign.

“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 nonsense,” Barr said in a video of a testimonial played during the hearing.

In another video, the former attorney general also rebuked accusations by Trump’s allies that voting machines had been tampered with, describing the theory as “complete nonsense” and “crazy stuff.”

In a separate video, Trump’s daughter and former White House adviser Ivanka Trump said she accepted Barr’s assessment that there was no electoral fraud.

“It affected my perspective,” she says of Barr’s testimony in a video played during the hearing. “I respect Attorney General Barr, so I accepted what he said.”

Ivanka Trump testified to the committee behind closed doors in April.

Riots endanger US democracy, committee leaders say

While some Republicans have downplayed the seriousness of the riots, the Jan. 6 panel argued Thursday that the attack on the Capitol endangered the US government system.

“January 6 and the lies that led to insurgency have endangered two and a half centuries of constitutional democracy,” Thompson said in his opening statement.

He added that the “conspiracy to thwart the will of the people is not over”.

“There are those in this audience who thirst for power but have no love or respect for what makes America great: commitment to the Constitution, allegiance to the rule of law, our shared journey to build a more perfect union,” he said. Thompson.

He called the riots the “culmination point of a coup attempt”.

‘It was a massacre; it was chaos,” says Capitol officer

Much of the hearing was devoted to highlighting how violent the attack on the Capitol was.

The commission showed new videos of the attack that it said had never been shown before.

The footage showed angry Trump supporters marching on the Capitol and breaking through the barricades around the building as law enforcement officers struggled to contain them.

Many of the rioters wore tactical gear and waved Trump flags.

Caroline Edwards, a Capitol police officer injured in the attack and one of Thursday’s two witnesses, described how she and other officers tried to restrain rioters trying to break into the building.

“It was a massacre; it was chaos,” she said. ‘I can’t even describe what I saw. I never imagined in my wildest dreams that as a police officer, as a law enforcement officer, I would find myself in the middle of a battle.”

Edwards said she witnessed her fellow officer Brian Sicknick, who would later die after the riot, with his “head in his hands” during the attack.

“He was ghostly pale, which at the time I thought was sprayed, and I was concerned,” she told the commission. “My police alarm bells went off because if you’re sprayed with pepper spray, you go red. He turned almost as pale as this sheet of paper.’

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