WASHINGTON – The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol attack on Thursday sought to build a case that former President Donald Trump was the driving force behind an attempted coup that culminated with the deadly insurrection at the Capitol.
“President Trump summoned the mob, assembled the mob and lit the flame of this attack,” Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., Vice chair of the committee, said during her opening remarks of the panel’s first prime-time hearing.
That narrative has been told before but largely disseminated in broad sweeps, through media leaks and other accounts. Thursday night’s hearing attempted to tie together those chapters in an official and chronological recounting of the events of that day, sprinkling in previously unknown or unconfirmed details.
The committee shared previously unseen videotaped deposits from witnesses, text messages from Trump aides and internal memos to make their case. It was used to reinforce other evidence that already has trickled out during the committee’s months-long investigation.
“There was a flow of new evidence that comes out of the mouths of arch-Republicans and former Trump allies,” said Norman Eisen, a senior fellow at The Brookings Institution and co-author of a new report called Trump on Trial: A Guide to the January 6 Hearings and the Question of Criminality.
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Yet even for those who have closely followed the investigation, the deluge of material left observers sifting through what was new and what was regurgitated. Here’s a breakdown to sort it out:
What we already knew: The plot
Most of the events discussed at the hearing have long been known broadly. What’s new are some of the details about Trump’s plot to reverse his election loss and his encouragement of extremist supporters to protest it – details provided by people who were close to him or at least in the room.
The public had already learned that Trump did not try to deploy the National Guard to Capitol Hill; that aides told him repeatedly that he had lost the election; that the president spoke approvingly of hanging his vice president; and that he was approached about pardons for GOP lawmakers who sought to overturn the election.
There are now new details on the scope and intensity of those overturn efforts, many of them from allies of Trump.
New details that emerged:
Milley comments reveals Trump did not deploy the National Guard
The committee said evidence shows Trump did not call on any part of the federal government – including deploying the National Guard or contacting the Pentagon – to respond to the attack as unfolded.
“Vice President Pence did each of those things,” Cheney said, showing a previously unreleased videotaped deposition from Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. “He was very animated, very direct, very firm,” Milley said of Pence. “And to (Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher) Miller: ‘get the military down here, get the Guard down here. Put down this situation.'”
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In contrast, Milley recounted what Meadows said to him: “He said, ‘We have to kill the narrative that the vice president is making all the decisions. We need to establish the narrative that the president is still in charge, that things are steady or stable. ‘ I immediately interpreted that as politics, politics, politics. “
Trump ‘knew’ he lost the election
Cheney highlighted a pair of previously unreleased videotaped deposits of Trump aides to argue Trump “knew” he lost the 2020 election – a significant point as the committee argues he knowingly lied to the public about his false claims of fraud.
Trump senior adviser Jason Miller said Trump’s campaign data expert, Matt Oczkowsk, told Trump days after the election in “pretty blunt terms that he was going to lose.”
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Cheney also shared a video of Trump campaign lawyer Alex Cannon recounting how he told Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows: “We weren’t finding anything that would be sufficient to change the results in any of the key states.”
Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner depositions
Previously unreleased videotaped deposits from Ivanka Trump, Trump’s daughter, showed that members of Trump’s own family did not agree with his false claims that the election was stolen.
Ivanka Trump told the committee she accepted then-Attorney General William Barr’s finding of no fraud sufficient to overturn the 2020 election – in contrast to her father.
“It affected my perspective,” Ivanka Trump said. “I respect Attorney General Barr, so I accepted what he was saying.”
Cheney also showed a video of Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, telling the committee that he shrugged off threats from Trump’s White House Counsel Pat Cipollone before Jan. 6 that he might resign because of potential lawless activity.
“I kind of took it up just to be whining to be honest with you,” Kushner said.
Trump on hanging Pence: ‘Maybe our supporters have the right idea.’
The committee revealed previously unreported comments from Trump detailing how he ignored pleas from his own aides to call off the Capitol attack as it was occurring.
Cheney said later hearings will show that Trump believed rioters at the Capitol were, in his words, “doing what they should be doing.”
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Cheney said testimony will show Trump’s response to “Hang Mike Pence” chants on Jan. 6 was: “Maybe our supporters have the right idea,” and that Mike Pence “deserves it.”
Trump denied saying any such thing. On the Truth Social website Friday, he said: “I NEVER said, or even thought of saying, ‘Hang Mike Pence.’ This is either a made up story by somebody looking to become a star, or FAKE NEWS! “
Republican Congress members sought pardons from Trump after Jan. 6
Cheney said multiple Republican members of Congress – singling out only Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa. by name – sought presidential pardons from Trump after the Jan. 6 insurrection.
Cheney said Perry was involved in trying to replace Acting Attorney General Jeff Rosen with Jeffrey Clark, a Justice Department official who promised to pursue baseless claims of election fraud.
“As you will see, Rep. Perry contacted the White House in the weeks after Jan. 6 to seek a presidential pardon,” Cheney said. “Multiple other Republican Congressmen also sought presidential pardons for their roles in attempting to overturn the 2020 election.”
For his part, Perry denied it all, saying on social media Friday: “The notion that I ever sought a Presidential pardon for myself or other Members of Congress is an absolute, shameless, and soulless lie.”
Testimony from Proud Boys organizers
The committee revealed videotaped deposits from members of the far-right group Proud Boys to try to prove a link with their activity and Trump.
Following Trump’s 2020 presidential debate remarks for Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by,” the organization’s membership “tripled,” Proud Boys member Jeremy Bertino told the committee, according to a videotaped deposition.
Tail. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., The committee’s chairman, pointed to a Dec. 19 tweet from Trump calling his followers to Washington on Jan. 6, saying the committee has “substantial evidence” that the tweet energized individuals from Proud Boys and other extremist groups.
Following that tweet – “Be there, will be wild!” Trump wrote, urging his followers to show up Jan. 6 for a rally – the committee said Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio created a social media group to organize its members for that day.
Former AG William Barr told Trump his argument was’ bull —- ”
The committee also played a video testimony from Barr, who provided a more pungent description of Trump’s election protest: “Bullshit.”
Barr used the same barnyard epithet in his book, entitled “One Damn Thing After Another.” During the meeting in question, Barr wrote that he told Trump: “The fact is, we have looked at the major claims your people are making, and they are bullshit.”
Barr’s testimony contains more details and context about his interactions with Trump, and how he made clear his view that the president had lost the election.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Jan. 6 hearing: Which details were new, which already known