Capitol Riots Hearings to Say American Democracy is in Danger
WASHINGTON, June 9 (Reuters) – Hearings into the 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of Donald Trump will highlight testimony from key aides and the former president’s family as a congressional committee seeks to show that the riot was, as its president put it, a “conspiracy to thwart the will of the people”.
After nearly a year of investigation, the U.S. House of Representatives Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack enters a new phase on Thursday with a prime-time hearing that will include recorded testimony on videotape of senior Trump White House officials and campaign officials, committee aides said. .
The hearing is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. EDT (24:00 GMT).
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“January 6 and the lies that led to the insurrection endangered two and a half centuries of constitutional democracy,” said U.S. Democratic Representative Bennie Thompson, chairman of the committee, in excerpts from his opening statement released ahead of the meeting. hearing.
“The conspiracy to thwart the will of the people is not over,” Thompson added. “There are people in this country who crave power but have no love or respect for what makes America great: dedication to the Constitution, allegiance to the rule of law, our common journey to build a more perfect union.”
Since leaving office last year, Trump has stood by his false claims that his 2020 election loss to Democratic President Joe Biden was the result of widespread fraud, a claim that has been dismissed by many. courts, state election officials and members of its own administration.
Among Trump’s close associates who spoke to the committee are his son Donald Jr., daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner, former acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen, former attorney general William Barr and top aides to the former Vice President Mike Pence.
Trump, who is publicly flirting with another White House bid in 2024, on Thursday called the committee “political thugs.”
The hearing will feature two in-person witnesses, US Capitol Police officer Caroline Edwards, who suffered head trauma in the attack, and Nick Quested, a filmmaker who captured footage of the extreme group right Proud Boys, accused of planning the murder attack. Read more
A total of six hearings are scheduled this month as the Democratic-led committee attempts to reverse Republican efforts to downplay or deny the violence of the attack, with five months to go until the Nov. 8 midterm election that determine which party controls both the House and the Senate for the next two years. Read more
The pro-Trump mob sought to stop Congress from certifying Biden’s victory, attacking police and causing millions of dollars in damage. 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 committee wants to argue not only that Jan. 6 was planned with the cooperation of members of Trump’s inner circle, but that there is an ongoing threat to American democracy.
“As I said, when it happened and afterward, I think, a clear and flagrant violation of the Constitution,” Biden told reporters on Thursday. “I think these guys and women broke the law, tried to overturn the outcome of an election.
SEEN THROUGH THE PARTISAN LENS
A Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Thursday underscored the partisan lens through which many Americans view the assault.
About 55% of Republicans believe the false claim that left-leaning protesters carried out the attack, and 58% said they believe most protesters were following the law.
A Republican candidate for governor of Michigan was arrested on Thursday for misdemeanors related to his participation in the Jan. 6 riot. Read more
Two election officials from the Republican state of Georgia whom Trump tried to lobby to “find” votes that would overturn his electoral defeat will testify at the hearings later this month, a source familiar with it said. Read more
Major television stations NBC, CBS and ABC plan to broadcast the hearing live, but Fox News, a favorite of Trump supporters, will not show it on its main channel.
There are two Republican members on the committee, Representatives Liz Cheney, its vice chair, and Adam Kinzinger.
Some congressional Republicans condemned Trump in the early days after the attack, but since then nearly all have changed their tune.
House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy on Thursday called the committee a “smokescreen” for Democrats to push sweeping changes to voting laws. “It’s the most political and least legitimate committee in American history,” he said.
When Republicans controlled Congress, there were at least 10 inquiries into the 2012 attack on US diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya, in which four people died. The investigations and hearings lasted much of the next four years and were used as a political cudgel against then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as she unsuccessfully ran for president against Trump.
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Reporting by Patricia Zengerle and Richard Cowan; Additional reporting by Linda So, Trevor Hunnicutt Kanishka Singh and Jason Lange; Editing by Will Dunham, Scott Malone, Andy Sullivan and Alistair Bell
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