6 Takeaways From Democrats’ Prime-Time Hearing on Capitol Riot 

Thursday night, a House panel investigating the Capitol Riot took control of prime-time television with the first of six planned hearings. 

The select committee—made up of seven Democrats and two anti-Trump Republicans—previously suggested it would offer huge revelations from its investigation of the riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

Early on, Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., and Vice Chair Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., argued that then-President Donald Trump purposefully encouraged his supporters to attack the Capitol and block certification of Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory by a joint session of Congress. 

In opening remarks, Thompson said Trump oversaw “a sprawling, multistep conspiracy aimed at overturning the election” and that he “spurred a mob” to attack the Capitol with 

“lies that led to insurrection.”

But conservative lawmakers and organizations called out the partisan politics of Democrats’ programming, which was packaged for a TV audience by a former ABC News producer.

Heritage Foundation President, several hours before the hearing began, was Kevin RobertsIssued as statement saying that Democrats’ goal was to “distract Americans from President Biden’s long list of policy failures.” (The Daily Signal is Heritage’s multimedia news organization.)

Roberts stated, in part: 

Democrats are so brazen they’ve even hired the former president of ABC News to turn the hearings into ‘made-for-TV’ political theater. You can expect a one-sided partisan narrative intent on slandering the left’s political opponents—starting with former President Donald Trump and extending to other conservatives—that has nothing to do with strengthening our republic and everything to do with distracting from their abysmal failures in every major policy area. 

While Jan. 6 was wrong and not as violent as the riots that decimated our country in the summer of 2020 it was still a serious incident that was investigated to the greatest extent in history. Speaker [Nancy]Pelosi is genuinely concerned about justice and law, and she should immediately direct committee hearings. These hearings will investigate the violence, damage and death caused in Black Lives Matter protests up to Jan. 6.   

Here are six key points from the two hour hearing held by the House Select Committee investigating the January 6th Attack on the Capitol. 

1. ‘Right Idea’ to ‘Hang’ Pence

Cheney, who called it “a tremendous honor to serve on this committee,” alleged that evidence would show Trump approved of the infamous chant of “Hang Mike Pence,” which some rioters shouted in anger that the vice president didn’t try to throw the election to Trump. 

“You will hear that President Trump was yelling and quote ‘really angry’ at his advisers that told him he really should be doing something more” to stop the riot, Cheney said. 

“And aware of the rioters’ chant to ‘hang Mike Pence,’ the president responded with this sentiment: ‘Our supporters have the right idea.’”

Trump and his legal staff had argued that Pence as president of the Senate could unilaterally choose not to count Electoral College vote for Biden. Pence refused to agree. 

Cheney claimed that the riot was part Trump’s larger conspiracy. 

“Donald Trump oversaw and coordinated a sophisticated, seven-part plan to overturn the presidential election and prevent the transfer of presidential power,” Cheney said. “In our hearings, you will see evidence of each element of this plan.”

The Wyoming Republican claimed that Trump “summoned the mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack.”

The televised hearing featured a long, chronological compilation of video showing rioters attacking the Capitol while Trump spoke at the rally. The footage showed rioters clashing against Capitol Police and breaking into Congress that afternoon, before it was canceled due to the breach. 

Cameras mounted inside and out of the Capitol captured dramatic images that captured the riot used to create the montage. 

In examples of strategic edits made by the committee, the video producers cut the words “peacefully and patriotically” from Trump’s rally remarks on the planned march to the Capitol and, in audio ending the montage, suggested that Trump said “love was in the air” during the riot.  He was actually referring to the rally that took place just south of the White House. 

A Capitol Police officer’s fatal shooting of one rioter, Navy veteran Ashli Babbitt, was not mentioned during the hearing. 

“On the morning of Jan. 6, President Donald Trump’s intention was to remain president of the United States despite the lawful outcome of the 2020 election and in violation of his constitutional obligation to relinquish power,” Cheney said. 

To Republican lawmakers who continue to defend Trump, she said, “your dishonor will remain.”

2. ‘Energized’ by Trump’s Tweet

Thompson focused at one point on a Trump tweet on Dec. 19, 2020, about the planned rally in Washington that concluded with the words “Be there, will be wild.”

“We’ve obtained substantial evidence showing that the president’s Dec. 19 tweet calling his followers to Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6 energized individuals from the Proud Boys and other extremist groups,” Thompson said.

In another video, Marcus Childress, the committee’s investigative counsel, spoke about the Proud Boys, a far-right group whose members said Trump’s tweet encouraged them to travel to Washington.

Extremist groups “viewed this tweet as a call to arms,”  Childress said in the video. He said a plan circulated among Proud Boys members to occupy government buildings as part of  a “1776 Returns” effort, according to the federal indictment of Proud Boys leader Henry “Enrique” Tarrio.

Childress said Tarrio posted the words “Standing by sir,” on Parler after Trump, challenged by a questioner, told the Proud Boys in one of two debates with Biden  to “stand back and stand by.”

Another Proud Boys member, Jeremy Bertino, was seen on video telling a committee investigator that the group’s membership increased “exponentially” and “tripled probably” after Trump’s debate comment. 

The committee also showed Alex Jones, far right commentator, encouraging Americans go to Washington during a conversation with Stewart Rhodes. Rhodes is the founder of Oath Keepers. In that interview, Rhodes said either Trump would prevail “or we end up in a bloody fight.” 

The federal indictment of Rhodes in connection with the riot says that he told followers, “We aren’t getting through this without a civil war.”

The Oath Keepers stored weapons in Virginia before Trump’s  Jan. 6 “Stop the Steal” rally, according to the indictment. 

3. Bill Barr: ‘I Told Them It Was Crazy Stuff’

Early on, the committee showed excerpts of its video-recorded deposition of former Attorney General William Barr, who departed the Trump administration about a month before Biden’s inauguration. 

Thompson, the chairman of the committee, presented the first clip from Barr. 

“Donald Trump lost the presidential election in 2020,” Thompson said. “Don’t believe me? Hear what his former attorney general had to say about it.” 

Thompson warned that the clip contained some strong language. 

“I made it clear I did not agree with the idea of saying the election was stolen and putting out this stuff, which I told the president was bulls–t,” Barr said in the video. 

The former attorney  general said he spoke with Trump about the election results

“I didn’t want to be a part of it. That’s one of the reasons that went into me leaving when I did,” Barr added. “I observed—I think it was Dec. 1—[that] you can’t live in a world where the incumbent administration stays in power based on its view, unsupported by specific evidence, that there was fraud in the election.”

During her opening remarks, which were significantly longer than the chairman’s, Cheney showed another video clip of Barr saying to committee staff:

I saw no basis for the allegations [of election fraud]They were made, however. [in] such a sensational way that they obviously were influencing a lot of people, members of the public, that there was this systemic corruption in the system and that their votes didn’t count and that these [voting]It was completely absurd that machines controlled by someone else were actually determining their behavior.

It was being laid out there. I told them it was crazy stuff. They were wasting their time and doing a great disservice to the country.

4. Ivanka and Jared’s Account

The committee showed short clips of the former president’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, and her husband, Jared Kushner. Both served as White House advisers to the president. 

Trump, in response to a question, said she believed Barr’s assessment that not enough voter fraud took place to change the election outcome. 

A committee staffer asked her: “How did that affect your perspective of the election when Attorney General Barr made that statement?”

The president’s daughter seemed to indicate that she believed the election was not stolen. The video clip was short. 

“It affected my perspective,” Ivanka Trump said. “I respect Attorney General Barr. So I accepted what he was saying.”

Cheney interviews Kushner on Trump White House counsel Pat Cipillone in a second aired video. Cipillone threatened to resign after the riots at the Capitol. 

“Are you aware Pat Cipillone threatened to resign?” Cheney asked. 

“Like I said, my interest at that time was trying to get as many pardons done [as possible],” Kushner responded. “I know [Cipollone] and the team were always saying, ‘We’re going to resign. We’re not going to be here if this happens or if that happens.’ So, I kind of took it as just to be whining, to be honest.”

Capitol Police Officer Caroline Edwards, who was the first law enforcement officer to be attacked by rioters, testified Thursday night. (Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

5. ‘Slipping in People’s Blood’

Capitol Police Officer Caroline Edwards, who was injured and briefly knocked unconscious outside the Capitol, gave emotional testimony that didn’t shed new light on potential criminality. 

“What I saw was a war scene, something like I had seen out of the movies,” Edwards, one of two live witnesses in the second hour, told the committee, adding:

I couldn’t believe my eyes. There were officers standing on the ground. They were both bleeding. They were throwing up. I saw friends with blood all over the faces. I was slipping in people’s blood. I was catching people when they fell. … I’m trained to detain a few suspects and handle a crowd. I’m not combat trained.

Nick Quested, a documentary film maker who was embedded with Proud Boys prior to the riot, also testified before the committee about the things he saw. He claimed he was there as a response to a House subpoena. He was fully cooperative. 

Edwards also recalls seeing Officer Brian Sicknick after he was sprayed by bear spray. 

Initial reports claimed that Sicknick was struck on the forehead with a fire extinguisher. However, Sicknick died the day following the riot. Later, it was revealed that Sicknick had been struck on the head with a fire extinguisher. died of natural causes, although the stress of the day’s events could have prompted a stroke. 

“I turned and it was Officer Sicknick with his head in his hands. And he was ghostly pale,” Edwards told the committee, adding:

I knew that he was sprayed at that point. I was worried. My cop alarm bells went off. If you get sprayed with pepper spray, you’re going to turn red. He was about as pale and pale as the paper. I looked back to see what had hit him, and that’s when I got sprayed in the eyes as well. I was taken to be decontaminated by another officer, but we didn’t get the chance because we got tear-gassed.

In a rare moment of humor during the hearing, Edwards earlier recalled radioing her supervisor: “Sarge, I think we’re going to need a few more people down here.”

6. Initial Republican Reaction

During the televised hearing, Republican members of the House Judiciary Committee made a case that Americans care more about issues, writing on Twitter: “RT if you’d rather Democrats focus on tackling $5 per gallon gas than [Rep. Adam] Schiff’s Sham January 6th Charade!”

Schiff, D-Calif., a member of the select committee, played a major role in Democrats’ two impeachment drives against Trump.

Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio was the Judiciary Committee’s top Republican. He reminded Americans of Wednesday’s attempted assassination of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. 

“When’s the primetime hearing on threats against Supreme Court Justices and their families?” Jordan tweeted. 

Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., recalled on Twitter that Thompson, the select committee chair, had objected to certifying the 2004 reelection victory of  President George W. Bush. 

“Bennie Thompson voted to object to the 2004 election,” Banks tweeted. “He’s not an insurrectionist, he’s just a hypocrite.”

Ken McIntyre contributed this report.

Are you a fan of this article? To sound off, please email letters@DailySignal.com and we’ll consider publishing your edited remarks in our regular “We Hear You” feature. Be sure to include the article’s URL, headline, and your name.