Thursday night’s prime-time broadcast of the House panel’s investigation into the Capitol riot will be televised nationally as a network special.
It’s been about 500 days since the riot on Jan. 6, 2021, that saw hundreds enter the Capitol building after others forced their way in. Some intruders allegedly tried to stop a joint session Congress from certifying Electoral College votes that showed Joe Biden defeating Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential campaign.
Many Democrats say that what unfolded that day was “an insurrection” designed to undo the election results and install Trump for a second term.
Officially called the Select Committee for Investigating the January 6th Attack On the United States Capitol, the partisan House panel is comprised of seven Democrats as well as two Republicans. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., solidified the panel’s membership after blocking the choices of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.
The committee hired an ex-ABC News President James GoldstonTo create a multimedia presentation for TV viewers that has high production values. All three major TV networks—CBS, ABC, and NBC—announcedThey will air the hearing before any prime-time programming.
CNN and MSNBC both said they will air the hearing, as did Fox Business, but Fox News Channel announced that it won’t preempt its regular schedule. NewsMax stated it would also air at least an hour.
The select committee held two public meetings but has since done most of its work behind closed eyes.
These are six things to look out for ahead of Thursday’s hearing. It is rumored that video excerpts from previous testimony will be available as well as previously unseen photographs and video.
1. ‘Conspiracy’ or ‘Trump Operation’
Some members of Congress and journalists have suggested that the hearing would highlight shocking revelations linking the organizing the Capitol riot directly with Trump, who spoke at a nearby rally earlier today.
Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, famed Watergate reporters wrote a piece published Sunday in The Washington Post that suggests evidence of Trump’s involvement.
“[T]he House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack was far along in its investigation: It had issued 86 subpoenas, interviewed more than 500 witnesses and obtained 60,000 pages of records,” Woodward and Bernstein wrote in a piece published 12 days before the 50th anniversary of the Watergate break-in.
“As of this writing, the committee had an abundance of evidence that the insurrection was a Trump operation—and committee members have vowed to push further,” they wrote.
In an interview that aired Sunday on CBS News’ “Face the Nation,” committee Vice Chairwoman Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., was asked whether the Jan. 6 riot was part of a conspiracy.
“I think, certainly, I mean, look, if you look at the court filings,” Cheney began to say, before CBS reporter Robert Costa, previously with The Washington Post, pressed again: “But do you believe it was a conspiracy?”
“I do. It is very wide. It’s extremely well organized. It’s really chilling,” Cheney responded.
Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I. told CNNHe stated that he expected evidence from the committee of plans to attack the Capitol.
“There will be, I think, substantial evidence that really demonstrates the coordination and the planning and the effort,” Cicilline said, “despite the fact that they understood that Donald Trump lost the election and even once the insurrection began and the violence began, there were ongoing efforts to persuade the former president to stop the violence and call on folks to go home, and he refused to do it.”
Trump however, stated that he authorized 10,000 National Guard troopsto be deployed to Capitol grounds before his Jan. 6, rally challenging the election results. The rally was held on Ellipse (a park south the White House). Critics of Pelosi say that the House speaker was not being truthful. refusedThe presence of troops
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, a Democrat, wrote a letter to the Trump administration’s then-acting defense secretary, Chris Miller, in which she also rejected the presence of federal troops that day.
Previously, many congressional Democrats and media outlets spent almost two years asserting that evidence was right around the corner to demonstrate that a conspiracy existed between the Trump campaign and the Russian government to influence the 2016 election in Trump’s favor.
After an 18 month investigation, Robert Mueller, the special counsel, released his final report. He concluded that there was not evidence of collusion between Trump’s campaign and Moscow.
2. Fate of the Electoral College
Cheney and Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) are at odds over whether the panel should propose abolishing the Electoral College as part a legislative package. reported Sunday.
Axios reported that some Democrats want to use the Jan.6 committee as a pretext to push same-day voter registration, something congressional Democrats have supported before.
According to Axios, Raskin argues that “if presidents were elected by a popular vote, this would protect future presidential elections against the subversion that Trump and his allies tried to pull off in 2020.”
But, the outlet reported, Cheney counters by saying “the committee will burn its credibility if it pushes for radical changes like abolishing the Electoral College.”
Other committee members support reforming or scrapping Electoral Count Act. This law was used by Trump and his legal team to reverse the outcome in the 2020 election through Congress.
3. Trump Staffers and Contempt charges
Last week, Matthew Graves, the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, informed the Jan. 6 Committee that he would not indict either former Trump White House chief of Staff Mark Meadows nor former social media director Dan Scavino for criminal contempt of Congress.
The Justice Department did however charge Peter Navarro (ex-Trump trade advisor) with contempt for Congress. Navarro was being checked in at Nashville airport when he was stopped by federal agents. The agents put him in leg irons and “strip-searched” him, Navarro said.
Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), Chairman of the Committee, issued a joint statement with Cheney on Friday that addresses the Justice Department’s decisions.
“While today’s indictment of Peter Navarro was the correct decision by the Justice Department, we find the decision to reward Mark Meadows and Dan Scavino for their continued attack on the rule of law puzzling,” their statement says, adding:
Mr. Meadows and Mr. Scavino unquestionably have relevant knowledge about President Trump’s role in the efforts to overturn the 2020 election and the events of Jan 6. We hope the department can provide more clarity on this matter.
If the department’s position is that either or both of these men have absolute immunity from appearing before Congress because of their former positions in the Trump administration, that question is the focus of pending litigation.
4. Trump Family Cooperates
While former White House staff members have clashed with this committee, there are many others. Trump family membersI have freely cooperated with the Jan. 6, committee.
Donald Trump Jr. met with the panel in May for three hours. The committee made texts available from the day of the riot in which the former president’s son asks Meadows, as chief of staff, to persuade his father to make a statement condemning the riot.
Trump Jr.’s girlfriend, former Fox News personality Kimberly Guilfoyle granted the panel a voluntary interview that reportedly became heated, particularly in a confrontation with Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif.
Ivanka Trump, the former president’s elder daughter, spoke to the committee in April at its request. Jared Kushner was her husband and he met with the committee on March.
5. Participation of Pence staffers
CNN reportedLast week, the panel contacted three former staffers of former Vice President Mike Pence: Marc Short, Greg Jacob, and J. Michael Luttig (a former federal judge).
The New York Times reported that Short had warned Pence’s chief Secret Service agent, Tim Giebels, that Trump was likely to publicly turn on Pence, which could put the vice president in physical danger. (Some participants shouted “Hang Mike Pence” during the riot.)
“Peril,” a 2021 book by Woodward and Costa, recounts a conversation between Trump and Pence the day before the riot in which Pence said that, as vice president, he did not have the constitutional authority to decline to count Electoral College votes.
“I wouldn’t want any one person to have that authority,” Pence reportedly toldThe president.
“But wouldn’t it almost be cool to have that power?” Trump asked, according to the book.
“No. I’m just there to open the envelopes,” Pence answered.
“You don’t understand, Mike, you can do this,” Trump told his vice president, according to the book. “I don’t want to be your friend anymore if you don’t do this.”
6. Republicans to Release Findings
Although blocked from the select committee appointed by Pelosi as House speaker, a group of House Republicans—some of whom McCarthy attempted to appoint to the select committee—also will release findings about the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.
Republicans hope to release a report in “a matter of weeks,” and likely would preempt a final report from the Pelosi-appointed committee, Politico reported.
Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) and Jim Banks (Rep.
Ken McIntyre contributed this report.
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