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Jan. 6 hearing recap Police officer describes bloody ‘war scene’ outside Capitol

The House select committee held its first prime-time session on June 9 after spending nearly a year investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. (Video: Mahlia Posey/The Washington Post, Photo: Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post)
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Leaders of the bipartisan House select committee examining Donald Trump’s drive to subvert the election — and the insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021, that marked its climax — argued in the panel’s first prime-time hearing Thursday night that the former president bears responsibility for the attack on the seat of American democracy, which left several people dead and threatened to interrupt the transfer of power.

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A police officer who was injured as the pro-Trump mob moved toward the Capitol described what she witnessed as a “war scene," testifying, “I was slipping in people’s blood.”

Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), the committee’s chairman, called the day’s violence the “culmination of an attempted coup.” Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), vice chair of the committee, said Trump oversaw a “sophisticated, seven-part plan to overturn the presidential election” even as his top aides told him there was no evidence to support his fantastical claims.

Trump resisted entreaties from his staff to call off the attack, Cheney said, and gave no order to deploy the National Guard. Instead, he issued tweets that were read aloud by members of the mob, according to video presented by the committee, which also showed aides in the office of Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), the House minority leader, running in fear.

Trump expressed agreement with the chants of his supporters to “hang Mike Pence,” said Cheney, who previewed evidence that the president responded with the sentiment: “maybe our supporters have the right idea.”

Snippets of recorded witness interviews showed that top officials in Trump’s White House and campaign knew he had lost the election and communicated this bluntly to the president. William P. Barr, Trump’s former attorney general, told the committee he saw “absolutely zero basis” for claims the election had been stolen.

Trump’s elder daughter, Ivanka Trump, said she treated Barr’s views as decisive. “I accepted what he was saying,” she told the committee. But Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, dismissed as “whining” threats by White House counsel Pat Cipollone to resign in the weeks before Jan. 6, according to a clip of Kushner’s deposition.

Jason Miller, a senior campaign spokesman, said the campaign’s data specialist told Trump in no uncertain terms that internal figures showed “he was going to lose.” The same message was relayed to the White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, according to Alex Cannon, a campaign lawyer charged with examining possible fraud.

“I remember sharing with him that we weren’t finding anything that would be sufficient to change the results in any of the key states,” said Cannon, who recalled Meadows replying, “so there’s no 'there’ there.”

Tonight’s hearing focused on the violence unleashed on Jan. 6, the day Congress met to certify the results of the electoral college. It featured live testimony from documentary filmmaker Nick Quested — who was embedded with a right-wing extremist group, the Proud Boys, during the attack — and from Capitol Police Officer Caroline Edwards, who was injured when the pro-Trump rioters stormed past barricades and breached the Capitol building. Edwards described scenes of “chaos” and “carnage."

A committee investigator detailed how a Dec. 19, 2020, tweet from Trump promising that the Jan. 6 protest would be “wild” mobilized members of the Proud Boys and another extremist group, the Oath Keepers, who would later come face-to-face with Edwards and other officers.

“They viewed this tweet as a call to arms,” said the investigator, Marcus Childress, who described findings by the Justice Department that the Proud Boys created a chat group a day later and set up a command structure to plan their activities in D.C.

In videos presented at the hearing, pro-Trump rioters who have been charged or sentenced said they came to the Capitol at Trump’s request.

“Trump asked us to come,” one recalled.

“He called me there,” another said.

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