The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol has at least one more hearing to finish what it started six weeks ago: to put front and center the coordination of efforts to halt the certification of President Joe Biden’s 2020 win – and to reveal how former President Donald Trump was at the center of it all.
“At the very outset of our hearings, we described several elements of President’s Trump’s multipart plan to overturn the 2020 election,” GOP Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming said at the conclusion of last week’s hearing. “Our hearings have now covered all but one of those elements.”
Through a slew of hearings this summer, the select committee has featured prominently an effort to pressure former Vice President Mike Pence to overturn the election results, along with putting pressure on the Justice Department, state election officials and ballot counters, a plan to create false electoral slates in states and ultimately an endeavor to spread falsehoods about the 2020 election and summon a mob to Washington.
On Thursday during prime time, after seven public hearings, the committee “will return to Jan. 6 itself,” Cheney said.
In its upcoming hearing, the committee is expected to reveal what may be the crown jewel of its revelations so far – what former President Donald Trump was doing during the 187 minutes after he delivered a speech to his supporters, directing them to the Capitol, and before he called for the mob to return home.
The hearing, which comes after stunning testimony from Trump’s inner circle in recent weeks, will likely close out the series – for now.
“We have filled in the blanks,” GOP Rep Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, who will lead questioning during Thursday’s hearing with Democratic Rep. Elaine Luria of Virginia, told CBS’ “Face the Nation” of the upcoming hearing. “This is going to open people’s eyes in a big way.”
Through seven hearings to date, the committee’s findings have creeped inexorably closer to the former president himself, with Cheney dramatically ending last week’s session with the disclosure that Trump tried to call a witness, who declined to answer. For his part, Trump himself appears to be growing increasingly rattled as the committee pierces his inner circle.
Cheney said at the conclusion of last week’s hearing that the next session will provide a minute-by-minute account of what occurred during that three hour window on Jan. 6, 2021 – what the president was doing, who he was speaking with and how they were instructing him to proceed.
That timeline is expected to be bolstered by live testimony from two insiders on Thursday – Sarah Matthews, former deputy White House press secretary, and Matthew Pottinger, a member of the National Security Council during the Trump administration – who were both among a group of officials who resigned following the events of Jan. 6.
The hearing will also feature recorded testimony from former White House counsel Pat Cipollone, some of which was featured during last week’s hearing, after a marathon closed-door testimony that the Jan. 6 committee called “critical.”
The committee was additionally looking to feature in Thursday’s hearing Secret Service text messages from Jan. 5 and Jan. 6, 2021, following accusations last week from a government watchdog that the agency had deleted texts from those days. On Friday, the select committee subpoenaed the agency for the missing information.
But by Tuesday, it became clear that the committee would receive little – if any – additional text messages from the agency. On Wednesday, the select committee said the Secret Service had “begun producing records pursuant to the subpoena” it issued last week, noting that investigators are assessing that information. But the committee also added that it has “concerns” about a system migration that has been blamed for the missing messages, saying that it may represent a violation of the Federal Records Act.
The select committee isn’t alone in seeking access to the Secret Service records. On Wednesday, Trump said on his social media platform that he wants the records “far more than the Unselect Committee of political Hacks and Thugs,” claiming that Cassidy Hutchinson’s secondhand account of an incident where Trump reportedly lunged at a Secret Service agent as he tried to get his security detail to drive him over to the Capitol after his speech at the Ellipse was “ridiculous and libelous.”
Meanwhile, one of Trump’s insiders, former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, is being tried for contempt of Congress this week, after he failed to meet the requirements of a subpoena from the select committee.
But even without some key testimony or other cooperation, the Jan. 6 committee hearings have perhaps come as a surprise to many by successfully securing testimony from Republicans who served in Trump’s White House or on his campaign – in many cases brazenly defying their former boss. The committee has fought back Republican accusations of politicization and appeared to make some inroads with the American public.
The change is perhaps evident in voters’ openness to other candidates for the Republican nomination in 2024, like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who polls have shown has been gaining on Trump in some polling, while a New York Times/Siena College poll suggested last week that nearly half of Republicans intend to vote for another candidate other than Trump in the primaries.
During prime time on Thursday, the select committee will likely double down on its glaring assessments of Trump’s involvement with the insurrection thus far, pointing to evidence that the president was aware of violence ensuing at the Capitol, and did little to stop it.