The Select Congressional Committee investigating the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol held its eighth public hearing on Thursday. They heard testimony about activities in the White House during the attack, discussions among the Vice President’s security detail, and viewed more footage from inside the Capitol.
Here are five takeaways from Thursday’s hearings.
1. President Trump Struggled to Say the Election Was Over
Aides to President Trump told the Select Committee about attempts to get the President to record a video on January 6 calling on supporters to leave the Capitol and another on January 7 condemning the attacks. In a short video of outtakes from the January 7th video, President Trump read the words, “But this election is now over. Congress has certified the results,” before stopping. “I don’t want to say the election’s over,” he said to his aides, including his daughter Ivanka. Instead, they decided he would just say, “Congress has certified the results.”
2. Secret Service Agents Feared for Their Lives
The Committee played audio demonstrating the level of concern among Vice President Pence’s Secret Service detail. A White House security official, whose identity was withheld for fear of retaliation, said agents were “starting to fear for their own lives. In audiotaped testimony, the official said, “There were calls to say goodbye to family members, so on and so forth.” They also heard radio traffic in which a Secret Service agent described smoke filling the hallway and approaching rioters. “We need to move now,” the agent said. “If we lose any more time, we may lose the ability to do so.”
3. President Trump Did Not Want to Call Off the Crowd
Aides frantically asked President Trump to post a tweet that read, “Stay peaceful.” Instead, “He told Mark Meadows that the rioters were doing what they should be doing, and the rioters understood they were doing what President Trump wanted them to do,” said Representative Adam Kinzinger. When the Pentagon called the White House asking President Trump to discuss a response to the violence, Trump lawyer Eric Herschmann told What House Counsel Pat Cipollone, “the President didn’t want to do anything,” according to another anonymous witness.
4. Senator Josh Hawley Ran from Protestors
One of the enduring images of the January 6 attack was Senator Josh Hawley raising a fist in solidarity with the crowd as he walked into the Capitol. However, the Committee presented a video that showed a different reaction from Hawley as he ran through a hallway and down a flight of stairs once the building was breached. The video drew laughter from the crowd in the hearing room.
5. Thursday’s Hearing Added to Cassidy Hutchinson’s Credibility
Representative Elaine Luria (D-VA) said the Committee received information that backed up Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony in an earlier hearing. “A former White House employee with national security responsibilities” backed up Hutchinson’s testimony about President Trump lunging at a Secret Service agent, according to Rep. Luria. Retired Washington, DC police Sargent Mark Robinson testified that Secret Service agents told him Trump had a “headed” conversation about returning to the White House instead of going to the Capitol. Robinson claimed he had been in the motorcade with Trump more than 100 times and had never heard of the type of disagreement Trump had with his detail that day.
While this was the last of the Select Committee’s summer hearings before the August recess, they indicated that their work was not done.
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Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Pool
Scott Slayton writes at “One Degree to Another.”