(WASHINGTON) — The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot is returning to prime time with a Thursday evening hearing that will examine the three-hour plus stretch when Donald Trump failed to act as a mob of supporters stormed the Capitol.
It is racing to find new evidence. This could be the last session in the series of public hearings that began early June. The committee heard from a former Trump strategist’s lawyer that Steve Bannon could now testify after being accused of violating a subpoena issued by Congress.
“I expect that we will be hearing from him and there are many questions that we have for him,” said Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif. She and other committee members said they intend to have Bannon sit for a private interview, typically done in a deposition with sworn testimony.
Learn More Trump’s Jan. 6 Knowledge
Thursday’s hearing will be the first in the prime-time slot since the June 9 debut that was viewed by 20 million people. The Tuesday hearing will examine the planning and plotting of the Jan. 6th 2021 insurrection by white nationalist organizations such as the Proud boys, Oath Keepers or the Three Percenters. Friday’s testimony will highlight the former White House counsel Pat Cipollone.
Investigators continue to dig deeper into evidence that has been collected about extremist groups and the actions of the president during the violent insurrection.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., who will lead Thursday’s hearing with Rep. Elaine Luria, D-Va., described the upcoming testimony as key to providing an extensive timeline of what Trump did and did not do in those critical hours on the afternoon of Jan. 6, 2021. That includes Trump’s tweet criticizing Vice President Mike Pence for lacking “courage” as angry protesters outside the Capitol were heard chanting “Hang Mike Pence” for not challenging Democrat Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory.
“We want to show the American people what was the president doing during that time,” Kinzinger said Sunday. “The rest of the country knew that there was an insurrection. It is obvious that the president must have been aware of an insurrection. What was the president doing? So what was he up to? It’s a very important hearing. Attention. Because I think it goes to the heart of what is the oath of a leader.”
The hearing is announced as Congress resumes work after two weeks of recess. The committee’s lawmakers had stated in June that there wouldn’t be any more hearings before July. However, they held an unexpected hearing in late June to hear testimony from Cassidy Hutchinson, a former Trump White House adviser.
She gave the most convincing evidence that Trump might be involved in a federal criminal investigation with her explosive testimony. The committee, which consists of seven Democrats as well as two Republicans, has been subject to a flood of confidential information.
Tuesday’s hearing will explore efforts to assemble the mob on the National Mall and then organize the march down Pennsylvania Avenue, where some rioters — armed with pipes, bats and bear spray — charged into the Capitol, quickly overrunning the overwhelmed police force. That day, more than 100 police officers suffered injuries, including many being beaten and bloodied.
It will also highlight a meeting on Dec. 18, 2020 at the White House in which former Trump lawyers Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani, onetime Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn and others floated the idea of seizing voting machines and invoking national security emergency powers, to the heated objection of several White House lawyers who argued that Trump needed to accept his defeat, according to Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., who will lead Tuesday’s hearing.
“We’re gonna get to use a lot of Mr. Cipollone’s testimony,” he said. “He was aware of every major move, I think, that Donald Trump was making to try to overthrow the 2020 election and essentially seize the presidency.”
The financing of rallies or gatherings in Washington planned for that day is also being examined by lawmakers.
Bannon’s apparent turnabout in testifying comes as he faces a criminal trial this month on two counts of contempt of Congress for defying the committee’s subpoena. He has argued that his testimony is protected by Trump’s claim of executive privilege, a claim the committee has countered as dubious because Trump had fired Bannon from the White House in 2017 and Bannon was thus a private citizen when he was consulting with Trump in the run-up to the riot.
Bannon expressed his preference for public hearings, but the committee members refused to hear him.
“The way that we have treated every single witness is the same, that they come in, they talk to the committee there,” Raskin said. “If they’re going to take a deposition, they’re sworn under oath. It’s videotaped. It’s recorded, and then we take it from there.”
The committee says it wants to hear from Bannon because he “had specific knowledge about the events planned for Jan. 6 before they occurred.” It cited as an example comments that he made on his podcast the day before the riot.
“It’s not going to happen like you think it’s going to happen. OK, it’s going to be quite extraordinarily different. All I can say is strap in,” Bannon said in that podcast. “All hell is going to break loose tomorrow. … So many people said, ‘Man, if I was in a revolution, I would be in Washington.’ Well, this is your time in history.”
Kinzinger spoke on ABC’s “This Week, Lofgren was on CNN’s “State of the Union,” and Raskin appeared on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
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