By Mary Claire Jalonic, Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) – In its first three hearings, the House panel investigating the Capitol uprising began its case against former President Donald Trump – for lying about the 2020 election, and for reversing pressure on his vice president. , January 6, 2021 led to direct violence.
The committee’s hearings – at least two more are scheduled – follow a year-long investigation and more than 1,000 interviews. The panel presented both eyewitness accounts and videos, including interviews with Trump’s closest advisers who sought to dissuade him from trying to stay in power. The committee also showed video of the violent attack that day, some of which had never been seen before.
Presenting their preliminary findings, the nine-member panel said they were trying to remind tired people what was at stake that day, and what would have happened if Vice President Mike Pence and others had not rejected Trump’s efforts. Reversing his defeat. They are also gathering a large body of evidence that the Department of Justice wants to use in its own investigations.
What we have learned so far from the January 6 selection committee public hearing – and what happens next:
The committee’s hearing on Thursday focused on Trump’s pressure on Vice President Joe Biden after all 50 states confirmed his victory and courts across the country rejected his campaign efforts to legally challenge the outcome. After running out of options with the president, he and a small group of allies headed for the final congressional ratification on January 6.
The Vice President presides over the session in a formal role every four years. Inspired by John Eastman, a professor of constitutional law, Trump pressured Pence to disregard the law, and for hundreds of years, for example, took steps to object or delay the count.
Pence’s adviser, Greg Jacobs, said the vice president had been adamant from the start that he would not implement the plan. “Our text, history review – and, frankly, general knowledge – all confirm the vice president’s first tendency at that point, there is no justification for concluding that the vice president has that kind of authority,” Jacobs told the committee live. Testimony on Thursday.
But Trump stepped up his pressure in the days leading up to the ratification, ending on the morning of January 6 with a call between two people describing allies as “hot,” shouting at Pence to “do the right thing.” That morning, with a huge rally of his supporters and a tweet at the end, a violent mob stormed the building, saying Pence did not have the “courage”. The committee chronicled the timeline with video interviews of White House aides, clips of Trump’s speech, and footage of an angry mob calling for Pence’s assassination.
In a video played by the committee, a Trump supporter said he had heard reports that Pence had “cave-in” and that if he did, he would “drag politicians into the street.” Crowds called for Pence to be hanged as he entered the building.
The panel also filled out new details about the hasty withdrawal of Pence from the Senate after the riots began. Democrat California Rep. Of the committee leading Thursday’s hearing. Pete Aguilar told Jacob that the group was only 40 feet away from the rioters at one point.
Although some of Trump’s top aides declined to testify, the committee spoke with several of his top aides, many of whom were at the White House that day and met earlier in the week as Trump, Eastman and lawyer Rudy Giuliani. A small group of others pushed the plan to reverse Trump’s defeat.
The panel played video testimony clips in which allies disagreed with the plan or tried to persuade the president to speak out – although few of them spoke in public.
Those efforts to persuade Trump began on election night, when the race was still too close to call and Giuliani pushed the president to declare victory. Trump campaign manager Bill Stepan said in an interview clip played by the panel that he had told Trump “too soon” to make such a prediction, but Trump went to the press room and did whatever it took, he told reporters. The results were “fraudulent for the American people” and “obviously, we won this election.”
The committee also showed video of the testimony of Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner. In a clip from her interview earlier this year, Ivanka Trump told the panel that her father’s call to Pence on the morning of January 6 was “extremely hot” and “had a different tone than the one I had heard from the vice president before.” Others described the insults used by the president.
The committee has not released the full transcript of the interview.
At Monday’s second hearing, the panel found evidence that allegations of widespread fraud in Trump’s election were false. While election officials across the country have verified the results and the courts have rejected many of Trump’s cases, the president and his allies have repeatedly said that this is true.
The committee used video clips of the testimony of former Attorney General Bill Barr, who resigned after the president dismissed his claim as “nonsense.” Barr said he looked at the allegations and found no evidence that any of them were true. Trump described the panel as “detached from reality” and described his interaction with the president as “trying to get him to explain the facts.”
At Monday’s committee hearing, individual witnesses spoke of pressure on Trump and Giuliani to try to reverse the results in their respective states. BJ Pak, a former U.S. lawyer from Atlanta who resigned after Trump pressured Georgia officials, said his office had investigated Giuliani’s “reckless” claims of fraud in the state and found them to be “simply untrue.”
The committee has two more hearings this month, and more are expected. Tuesday’s hearing is expected to focus on state officials who have been approached by Trump and the White House as they try to reverse the results. Further hearings will look into what happened after Trump’s pressure on the Justice Department to declare the election “corrupt” and the spread of violence inside the White House.
After the hearing, the investigation will continue. The panel expects to issue a final report by the end of the year. Investigators have not yet said whether they will try to call Pence or Trump to testify, either privately or publicly.
The Department of Justice has stepped up its own investigation, and asked the January 6 panel to provide transcripts of its 1,000 interviews. The committee has so far denied the allegations, but said it was involved in a “cooperative process” with the department.
“We believe accountability is important and will not impede the department’s prosecution,” committee spokesman Tim Mulvey said in a statement Friday.
In a letter Wednesday, the Justice Department said the panel was complicating its investigation without a partnership.
“It is now clear that the interviews conducted by the selection committee are not only potentially relevant to our overall criminal investigation, but also to the special prosecution that has already been praised,” federal prosecutors wrote to Tim Hefey, the committee’s chief investigative adviser. .
Mississippi Rip. Benny Thompson, chairman of the January 6 panel, told reporters Thursday that lawmakers would formally respond to prosecutors. But, he added, “we are not going to stop what we are doing to share the information we have received so far with the Department of Justice.”
Associated Press writer Fernouz Amiri contributed to this report.
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