The Democrat-led committee investigating the January 6 Capitol Riot on Thursday evening sought to convince the American public that former President Donald Trump knowingly orchestrated an “attempted coup.”
During the first day of the primetime hearings, lawmakers aired a variety of sound bites from interviews with officials formerly in the Trump administration. They also showed a 10-minute montage of purportedly previously-unseen footage from the riot.
Vice Chairman Liz Cheney acted as prosecutor and argued that the rioters were primarily spurred on by Trump’s election fraud claims.
“Those who invaded our Capitol and battled law enforcement for hours were motivated by what President Trump had told them: that the election was stolen, and that he was the rightful president,” Cheney said. “President Trump summoned the mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack.”
“On the morning of January 6th, President Donald Trump’s intention was to remain president of the United States, despite the lawful outcome of the 2020 election, and in violation of his constitutional obligation to relinquish power,” she added. “Over multiple months, Donald Trump oversaw and coordinated a sophisticated seven-part plan to overturn the presidential election and prevent the transfer of presidential power. In our hearings, you will see evidence of each element of this plan.”
And as the committee focused on the events of the Capitol Riot, which took place more than a year ago, Republicans accused Democrats of attempting to divert attention from current American crises like “out-of-control inflation” that “their policies have created.”
I call on Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats to hold a prime-time hearing on the out-of-control inflation their policies have created.
— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) June 10, 2022
“Last night’s hearing was Democrats’ attempt to distract you from the fact that inflation just hit a 40 year high on their watch,” Republican Indiana Rep. Jim Banks tweeted.
He also pointed out that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) had kicked both himself and Republican Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan off the committee in an unprecedented move.
“No trial or committee hearing that doesn’t present differing points of view can be legitimate,” the Indiana Republican said.
Why aren’t Democrats showing this clip? pic.twitter.com/gRwBX86JJk
— House Judiciary GOP (@JudiciaryGOP) June 10, 2022
Jordan highlighted on Twitter that Trump had told protestors on January 6, “I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol Building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.”
“PEACEFULLY and patriotically make your voices heard."
-President Trump, Jan. 6, 2021
— Rep. Jim Jordan (@Jim_Jordan) June 10, 2022
When’s the primetime hearing on threats against Supreme Court Justices and their families?
— Rep. Jim Jordan (@Jim_Jordan) June 9, 2022
“House Democrats have no agenda for Americans and no real solutions to the problems that we face on a daily basis,” House GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (NY) said during a press call with reporters on Tuesday. “Instead, Democrats are scrambling to change the headlines, hoping that the nation will focus on the partisan witch hunt that you will see this week instead of our pocketbooks.”
Fox News had announced that it would air Tucker Carlson’s and Sean Hannity’s primetime shows rather than the hearings, though it aired the hearings on its sister network, Fox Business.
Liberal commentators criticized this move, emphasizing that every network should carry the same hearings.
they think this is an own, but it's actually really creepy that every news network save one is carrying a party "produced" piece of political theater https://t.co/TqbATIEX43
— Geoffrey Ingersoll (@GPIngersoll) June 10, 2022
We need 9 channels showing the same event. 8 is just not going to cut it https://t.co/P7qqPILzoh
— Chuck Ross (@ChuckRossDC) June 10, 2022
“Such an amateur move on their parts to try to compete with Tucker Carlson,” Banks told reporters on Tuesday. “His show is going to be the most watched show he’s probably ever had.”
Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat, claimed that “January 6th was the culmination of an attempted coup, a brazen attempt, as one rioter put it shortly after January 6th ‘to overthrow the government.'”
“Violence was no accident,” he added. “It represented Trump’s last stand, most desperate chance to halt the transfer of power.”
Within the very first few minutes of the hearing, Thompson emphasized that he is from “a part of the country where people justify the actions of slavery, Ku Klux Klan, and lynching,” linking the Capitol Riot to white supremacists by saying, “I’m reminded of that dark history as I hear voices today try to justify the actions of the insurrectionists of January 6, 2021.”
The committee chairman urged that Americans should not to be distracted by the many moving parts of the riot, blaming the entirety of that day on Trump.
“Donald Trump, the president of the United States,” Thompson said, “spurred a mob of domestic enemies of the Constitution to march down the Capitol and subvert American democracy.”
— January 6th Committee (@January6thCmte) June 10, 2022
Lawmakers on the committee had hired the former president of ABC News, James Goldston, to promote its findings as a “blockbuster investigative special,” Axios reported earlier this week. Goldston reportedly sought to make the findings “raw” enough that journalists will deem them credible but also sensational enough to capture the attention of Americans who have not followed the matter closely.
In remarks aired by Thompson during his opening statement, former Attorney General William Barr said that “you can’t live in a world where the incumbent administration stays in power based on its view, unsupported by specific evidence, that the election — that there was fraud in the election.”
Barr also said that he told Trump that the former president’s election fraud claims were “bullshit.”
Bill Barr, the former attorney general, testified to the Jan. 6 committee that Donald Trump’s repeated claims of fraud in the 2020 election were false, saying he told Trump that he “didn’t want to be a part of it.” https://t.co/Kf5QBFAgPz pic.twitter.com/eAvxf9R9nC
— The New York Times (@nytimes) June 10, 2022
The committee also aired a clip of the former president’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, saying that Barr’s view of the election fraud claims “affected” her perspective.
“I respect Attorney General Barr, so I accepted what he was saying,” she said.
Ivanka Trump told the Jan. 6th Committee that she accepted former Attorney General William Barr's statement saying there was no fraud sufficient to overturn the election https://t.co/YjEvScXAAd pic.twitter.com/KxQyFkAosS
— Bloomberg (@business) June 10, 2022
Trump responded in a post on his social media platform, Truth Social, saying that his daughter was merely trying to “be respectful to Bill Barr.”
“Ivanka Trump was not involved in looking at, or studying, Election results,” he said. “She had long since checked out and was, in my opinion, only trying to be respectful to Bill Barr and his position as Attorney General (he sucked!).”