With never-seen video, new audio and a mass of evidence, the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S Capitol will attempt to show the “harrowing story” of the deadly violence that erupted that day and also a chilling backstory as the defeated president, Donaid Trump, tried to overturn Joe Biden’s election victory.
Thursday’s prime-time hearing will open with eyewitness testimony from the first police officer pummeled in the mob riot and from a documentary filmmaker tracking the extremist Proud Boys, who prepared to fight for Trump immediately after the election and led the storming of the Capitol.
It will also feature the committee’s accounts from Trump’s aides and family members, interviewed behind closed doors, of the deadly siege that Democrats and others say put U.S. democracy at risk.
“When you hear and understand the wide-reaching conspiracy and the effort to try to corrupt every lever and agency of government involved in this, you know, the hair on the back of your neck should stand up,” Rep. Elaine Luria, D-Va., a member of the 1/6 committee, said in an interview.
The 1/6 panel’s yearlong investigation will begin to show how America’s tradition of a peaceful transfer of presidential power came close to slipping away. It will reconstruct how Trump refused to concede the 2020 election spread false claims of voter fraud and orchestrated an unprecedented public and private campaign and to overturn Biden’s victory.
Biden, in Los Angeles for the Summit of the Americas, said many viewers “are going to be seeing for the first time a lot of the detail that occurred.”
“I think it was a clear, flagrant violation of the Constitution,” he said.
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.”
The result of the coming weeks of public hearings may not change hearts or minds in politically polarized America. But the committee’s investigation with 1,000 interviews is intended to stand as a public record for history. A final report aims to provide an accounting of the most violent attack on the Capitol since the British set fire to it in 1814, and to ensure such an attack never happens again.
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.
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.
Against this backdrop, the committee will speak to a divided America, ahead of the fall midterm elections when voters decide which party controls Congress. Most TV networks will carry the hearings live, but Fox News Channel will not.
The committee chairman, civil rights leader Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., and vice chair Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, will set the tone with opening remarks.