The House select committee on the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection is telling the story of its investigation in a uniquely visual way: Its hearings over the next month will combine appearances from live witnesses with video montages of the attack and snippets of taped testimony from some of the more than 1,000 people they’ve interviewed so far.
Here are six compelling visual moments from the hearings so far. We’ll update this as the hearings continue through the month of June.
1. A chilling montage of the attack on the Capitol
The committee opened its month of hearings by seeking to jolt the American public back to that violent day, with never-before-seen footage of the pro-Trump attackers marching up to the Capitol and smashing windows to get in, overwhelming Capitol Police officers. The presentation spliced together images of determined rioters, who were yelling obscenities and waving Trump flags as they marched, with body-camera footage from Capitol Police officers.
“We can’t hold this, there are too many f------- people. Look at it from this vantage point. We’re f-----,” one panicked officer says.
It was can’t-look-away footage that brought the drama and terror of that day back to life.
2. ‘I was slipping in people’s blood’
Capitol Police officer Caroline Edwards testified in person during that first prime-time hearing. She was one of the first officers injured while trying to hold back the rioters, and her testimony about being on the front lines of the attack was particularly hard to hear.
The committee played graphic footage of protesters knocking her unconscious with a police barricade. After she recovered, she went to the front lines again and served alongside Capitol Police officer Brian D. Sicknick, who suffered two strokes and later died. She described how she and Sicknick were tear-gassed and knocked down repeatedly, calling it “a war scene.”
“I saw friends with blood all over their faces. I was slipping in people’s blood,” Edwards said, later adding, “It was carnage.”
3. William Barr: It’s ‘bullshit’
Before he resigned in December 2020, Donald Trump’s attorney general appeared to be one of the president’s biggest supporters in the government when it came to raising questions about whether the 2020 vote could be trusted. But now his testimony to the Jan. 6 committee has featured some of the hearings’ most quotable and memorable moments so far.
The committee’s first two hearings prominently featured taped depositions from Barr, who bluntly and sometimes coarsely testified that Trump’s election fraud claims were made up out of thin air — and that he told the president as much.
“I said … ‘did all the people complaining about it point out to you, you actually did better in Detroit than you did last time?’ ” Barr said in one of those videos, recounting a conversation with the president. “I mean, there’s no indication of fraud in Detroit. And I told him that the stuff that his people were shoveling out to the public was bullshit.”
At another point, Barr said he thought Trump was “detached from reality.”
“I was somewhat demoralized because I thought, ‘Boy, if he really believes this stuff, he has … become detached from reality,’ ” Barr said. “On the other hand, you know, when I went into this and would, you know, tell them how crazy some of these allegations were, there was never an indication of interest in what the actual facts were.”
4. The Jan. 6 crowd is whipped up by Trump
In its June 16 hearing, the committee turned to one of Trump’s most significant efforts to overturn the election: pressuring Vice President Mike Pence to reject electoral results while serving his ceremonial role overseeing Congress on Jan. 6.
The committee’s argument is that Trump whipped up the attack on the Capitol because Pence refused to do something blatantly unconstitutional. The Trump team’s pressure did not let up even after rioters streamed into the Capitol and threatened Pence’s life.
“Traitor!” the attackers yelled that day. “Hang Mike Pence! Mike Pence has betrayed the United States of America!”
5. Pence sheltering in place in the Capitol
The committee showed new photos and graphics showing how perilously close the mob got to Pence — closer than previously thought — before he was whisked away to a secret underground location. His lawyer, Greg Jacob, was with him and testified Thursday that the vice president refused to get into a waiting car, as Secret Service ordered.
Jacob testified: “The vice president did not want to take any chance that the world would see the vice president of the United States fleeing the United States Capitol. He was determined that we would complete the work that we had set out to do that day, that it was his constitutional duty to see through.”
6. ‘Your dishonor will remain’
Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) is one of just two House Republicans willing to serve on House Democrats’ special committee investigating the attack. Her party has isolated her for her strong criticism of Trump, who is backing her primary challenger in August.
But Cheney is as defiant as ever. In some of the first minutes of the first hearing, she had sharp words those in her party who have downplayed Jan. 6: “Tonight, I say this to my Republican colleagues who are defending the indefensible. There will come a day when Donald Trump is gone, but your dishonor will remain.”