Jan. 6 hearings air violent, previously unseen footage of rioters beating police, breaching Capitol

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The U.S. House panel investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol laid the blame firmly on Donald Trump Thursday night, saying the assault was hardly spontaneous but an “attempted coup” and a direct result of the defeated president’s effort to overturn the 2020 election.

With a never-before-seen 12-minute video of the deadly violence and startling testimony from Trump’s most inner circle, the House committee provided gripping detail in contending that Trump’s repeated lies about election fraud and his public effort to stop Joe Biden’s victory led to the attack and imperilled American democracy

“Democracy remains in danger,” said committee chair and Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson during the hearing, timed for prime time to reach as many Americans as possible.

“Jan. 6 was the culmination of an attempted coup, a brazen attempt, as one rioter put it shortly after Jan. 6, to overthrow the government,” Thompson said. “The violence was no accident.”

In a previously unseen video clip, the panel played a quip from former U.S. attorney general William Barr, who testified that he told Trump the claims of a rigged election were “bullsh-t.”

In another, the former president’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, testified to the committee that she respected Barr’s view that there was no election fraud. “I accepted what he said.”

WATCH | Barr and Ivanka Trump in never-before-seen testimony: 

Ivanka Trump, William Barr testimony aired at U.S. Capitol riot hearings

The U.S. congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, riots started its televised hearings on Thursday by showing its video interview with former attorney general Bill Barr, who testified he told Donald Trump that his election fraud claims were ‘bullsh-t.’ The panel also showed testimony from Ivanka Trump.

‘Summoned a violent mob’

Others video showed leaders of the extremist Oath Keepers and Proud Boys groups preparing to storm the Capitol to stand up for Trump.

In wrenching testimony, U.S. Capitol Police officer Caroline Edwards told the panel that she slipped in other people’s blood as rioters pushed past her into the Capitol. She suffered brain injuries when she fell and hit her head. 

“It was carnage. It was chaos,” she said.

“President Trump summoned a violent mob,” said Republican Rep. Liz Cheney, the panel’s vice chair. “When a president fails to take the steps necessary to preserve our union — or worse, causes a constitutional crisis — we’re in a moment of maximum danger for our republic.”

WATCH | Edwards describes being in the riot: 

‘What I saw was a war scene,’ says officer describing Jan. 6 riot

U.S. Capitol Police Officer Caroline Edwards says she never expected to find herself in the middle of battle, but said she and her colleagues endured ‘hours of hand-to-hand combat,’ and she found herself slipping in people’s blood.

Audible gasp in hearing room

There was an audible gasp in the hearing room, when Cheney read an account that said when Trump was told the Capitol mob was chanting for his vice-president, Mike Pence, to be hanged, Trump responded that maybe they were right; that he “deserves it.”

Trump was angry that Pence did not refuse to accept the certification of Biden’s victory.

Police officers who had fought off the mob consoled one another as they sat in the committee room reliving the violence they faced on Jan. 6. Officer Harry Dunn teared up as bodycam footage showed rioters bludgeoning his colleagues with flagpoles and baseball bats.

An image of Ivanka Trump is displayed on a screen Thursday. She testified that she ‘accepted’ when then U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr said there was no election fraud. (Mandel Ngan/Pool/The Associated Press)

The riot left more than 100 police officers injured, many beaten and bloodied, as the crowd of pro-Trump rioters — some armed with pipes, bats and bear spray — charged into the Capitol. At least nine people who were there died during and after the rioting, including a woman who was shot and killed by police.

Trump, unapologetic, dismissed the investigation anew — and even declared on social media that Jan. 6 “represented the greatest movement in the history of our country.”

Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee tweeted: “All. Old. News.”

WATCH | Committee lays out what it’s learned: 

Trump at ‘centre of conspiracy’ during U.S. Capitol riot, committee chair says

The U.S. congressional committee hearing investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol is underway, with opening statements from representatives Bennie Thompson and Liz Cheney.

Documentary maker Nick Quested, testified about filming the Proud Boys storming the Capitol — along with a pivotal meeting between the right-wing group’s then-chairman Henry “Enrique” Tarrio and another extremist group, the Oath Keepers, the night before in nearby parking garage.

Emotions are still raw at the Capitol, and security will be tight for the hearings. Law enforcement officials are reporting a spike in violent threats against members of Congress.

‘We were there, we saw what happened’

Against this backdrop, the committee is speaking to a divided United States ahead of this fall’s midterm elections, when voters will decide which party controls Congress. Most TV networks carried the hearing live, but Fox News Channel did not.

“We want to remind people, we were there, we saw what happened,” said Democratic Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota. “We know how close we came to the first non-peaceful transition of power in this country.”

Thompson, the committee chairman and a civil rights leader, opened the hearing with a sweep of American history, saying he heard in those denying the stark reality of Jan. 6 his own experience growing up in a time and place “where people justified the action of slavery, the Ku Klux Klan and lynching.”

In this Jan. 6, 2021, photo, insurrectionists loyal to Trump try to open a door of the U.S. Capitol as they riot in Washington. (Jose Luis Magana/The Associated Press)

In the weeks ahead, the panel is expected to detail Trump’s public campaign to “Stop the Steal” and the private pressure he put on the Justice Department to reverse his election loss — despite dozens of failed court cases and his own attorney general attesting there was no fraud on a scale that could have tipped the results in his favour.

The hearings are expected to introduce Americans to a cast of characters, some well known, others elusive, and to what they said and did as Trump and his allies tried to reverse the election outcome.

The public will learn about the actions of Mark Meadows, the president’s chief of staff, whose 2,000-plus text messages provided the committee with a snapshot of the real-time scramble to keep Trump in office; of John Eastman, the conservative law professor who was the architect of the unsuccessful scheme to persuade Pence to halt the certification; and of the Justice Department officials who threatened to resign rather than go along with Trump’s proposals.

The Justice Department has arrested and charged more than 800 people for the violence that day, the biggest dragnet in its history.

Former U.S. president Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Greensburg, Pa., on May 6. House investigators are unlikely to call Trump to testify about his role in the Jan. 6 insurrection, according to Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson, the Democratic chair of the nine-member panel investigating the attack. (Gene J. Puskar/The Associated Press)



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