By LISA MASCARO, MARY CLARE JALONICK and FARNOUSH AMIRI, Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — With never-before-seen video, new audio and a “mountain of evidence,” the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol will attempt to show not only the deadly violence that erupted this day, but also the scary story as defeated President Donald Trump tried to overturn Joe Biden’s election victory.
Thursday’s prime-time hearing will open with eyewitness testimony from the first police officer hit in the crowd riot and a documentary filmmaker who recorded the melee, and it will feature the stories of the aides committee of Trump and family members of the murderous siege that put the United States democracy in jeopardy.
“When you hear and understand the far-reaching conspiracy and effort to try to corrupt all the levers and agencies of government involved in this, you know, the hair on the back of your neck should stand on end,” said Elaine Luria, D. -Va., a member of the 1/6 committee, said in an interview with The Associated Press.
“Bringing it all together in one place and a cohesive narrative, I think, will help the American people better understand what happened on January 6 – and the threats it could potentially pose in the future.”
Panel 1/6’s year-long investigation into the Capitol attack will begin to show how America’s tradition of a peaceful transfer of presidential power nearly died out. It will reenact how Trump refused to concede the 2020 election, spread false claims of voter fraud, and orchestrated an unprecedented public and private campaign to reverse Biden’s victory.
The outcome of the next few weeks of public hearings may not change hearts or minds in a politically polarized America. But the committee’s investigation with 1,000 interviews is intended to be a public record for history. A final report aims to document the most violent attack on the Capitol since the British set it on fire in 1814 and ensure that such an attack never happens again.
Emotions are still running high at the Capitol and security will be tightened for the hearings. Law enforcement officials are reporting an upsurge in violent threats against members of Congress.
In this context, the committee will try to talk about a divided America, ahead of the midterm elections in the fall, when voters decide which party controls Congress. Most TV stations will broadcast the hearings live, but not Fox News Channel.
The chairman of the committee, civil rights leader Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., and Vice President Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, will set the tone with opening remarks.
The two congressional leaders will describe what the committee learned about the events leading up to that day in January 2021 when Trump sent his supporters to Congress to “fight like hell” for his presidency as lawmakers got to work. usually routine to certify the previous November results.
“People are going to have to follow two intersecting streams of events – one will be the attempt to overturn the presidential election, that’s a heartbreaking story in itself,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md. , member of the committee. the PA.
“The other will be the sequence of events leading up to a violent mob attack on the Capitol to stop the Electoral College vote count and block the peaceful balance of power,” he said.
The first step will be to rip out accounts of police engaging in hand-to-hand combat with the crowd, with testimony from United States Capitol Police Officer Caroline Edwards who was seriously injured in the attack. Also appearing on Thursday will be documentary filmmaker Nick Quested, who filmed the extremist Proud Boys storming the Capitol. Some of the members of this group have since been charged, as have some members of the Oath Keepers, on rare sedition charges relating to the military-style attack.
Alongside live eyewitness testimony, the panel will unveil multimedia presentations, including never-before-seen video and audio, and a “mountain of evidence”, said a committee aide who insisted on anonymity to preview the audience. There will be taped accounts from top Trump White House, administration and campaign aides, as well as members of Trump’s family, the aide said.
In the coming weeks, the panel is expected to detail Trump’s public campaign for ‘Stop the Steal’ and the private pressure he exerted on the Justice Department to reverse his election defeat – despite dozens of unsuccessful court cases. and his own attorney general attesting that there was no fraud of a magnitude that could have tipped the results in his favor.
The panel, made up of nine lawmakers, faced obstacles from its inception. Republicans blocked the formation of an independent body that could have investigated the Jan. 6 attack the same way the 9/11 Commission probed the 2001 terror attack.
Instead, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ushered in the creation of the 1/6 panel through Congress over the objections of Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell. She rejected Republican-appointed lawmakers who voted Jan. 6 against certifying the election results, choosing her own favorite members to serve.
Trump has dismissed the investigation as illegitimate, and many Republicans are prepared to defend him.
Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York told a GOP leadership news conference that the committee’s “brazen prime-time show” is nothing more than a smear campaign against the government. former president, his party and his supporters.
But by many measures, the attack was sparked shortly after Election Day, when Trump falsely claimed the vote was rigged and refused to concede once Biden was declared the winner.
The proceedings are expected to introduce Americans to a cast of characters, some well-known, others elusive, and what they said and did as Trump and his allies tried to reverse the election outcome.
The public will learn of the actions of Mark Meadows, the president’s chief of staff, whose more than 2,000 text messages provided the committee with real-time insight into the scramble to keep Trump in power. From John Eastman, the conservative law professor who was the architect of the failed scheme to convince Vice President Mike Pence to stop certification on January 6. Justice Department officials who have threatened to resign rather than accept Trump’s startling proposals.
Lawmakers have also been caught up in the investigation, including House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy, who defied the committee’s subpoena requests. Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, who urged her father to call off the rioters, appeared privately before the committee.
The Justice Department arrested and charged more than 800 people for the violence that day, the largest net in its history.
Associated Press writers Kevin Freking and Michael Balsamo contributed to this report.
For full coverage of the January 6 hearings, visit https://www.apnews.com/capitol-siege.
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