January 6 committee to begin public hearings

After months of investigating the deadly insurrection at the US Capitol behind closed doors, witness interviews and evidence will be shown live on Thursday

US Capitol police prevent rioters from breaking into the House chamber at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021. AP
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Nearly a year since its launch, the House of Representatives committee probing the January 6 attack on the US Capitol will go public with its discoveries starting this week.

Legislators on the panel hope to show the American public how democracy was on the brink of disaster.

The Capitol Hill hearings will take place over the next several weeks, beginning with a prime-time session on Thursday night in which the committee plans to hit the highlights of its 11-month investigation.

So far, little information has been revealed about the committee’s interviews and findings after speaking with more than 1,000 witnesses and people of interest — including former president Donald Trump's son, Donald Jr, daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner — and has been working its way through 90,000 documents and more than 435 phone tip-offs.

Five people died as a direct result of the attack, and several police officers have taken their own lives in the months since.

Although the panel cannot arrest or bring charges, their discovery may be used to shape new legislation. For example, in October 2021, committee members began drafting a bill designed to clarify the procedures for certifying presidential elections.

The committee's findings may also be used in arguments to hold people legally accountable.

How to watch

Several major networks and cable news programs are scheduled to carry the first hearing live in its prime-time slot. The committee is also expected to live-stream it on C-SPAN and on its YouTube page.

Who are the committee members?

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi appointed seven Democrats and two Republicans, Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, with Bennie Thompson serving as committee chairman.

Adam Schiff of California and Jamie Raskin of Maryland are two of the better-known Democrats on the committee.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and other Republicans have ostracised Mr Kinzinger and Ms Cheney for joining the committee.

What have they done — a timeline

July 2021

The committee hears evidence from four police officers who were on the front line as rioters attacked the Capitol.

They include Daniel Hodges, an officer with the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia, who was crushed in a doorway between rioters and a police line.

Michael Fanone, a Metropolitan Police Department officer, says rioters pulled him into the crowd, beat him with a flagpole, stole his badge, repeatedly shocked him with his Taser and went for his gun.

August 2021

Committee investigators say they will seek phone records of members of Congress, the records of at least 30 members of Mr Trump's inner circle from seven government agencies and the White House communication records held by the National Archives.

Records from social media companies such as Twitter, Parler, Facebook and TikTok are also sought.

September 2021

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, deputy chief of staff Dan Scavino, former Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale, chief adviser Steve Bannon and Kash Patel, Pentagon official and aide to former House intelligence committee chairman Devin Nunes, receive subpoenas from the committee.

October 2021

The committee issues subpoenas to Stop the Steal LLC organiser Ali Alexander and assistant attorney general Jeffrey Clark.

The same month, Mr Bannon claims that Mr Trump’s executive privilege also protects him from being compelled to appear as the former president instructed him to defy the subpoena.

The committee announces that it will hold Mr Bannon in contempt.

November 2021

Meanwhile, the committee wants to know what happened at Washington’s historic Willard Hotel, known as the “war room”, where Trump associates reportedly met to formulate plans to stop the January 6 certification.

Subpoenas are issued for InfoWars host Alex Jones, long-time Republican operative Roger Stone, former senior adviser for policy Stephen Miller, Mike Pence's national security adviser Keith Kellogg, former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, lawyer John Eastman, and Bernard Kerik, a Trump ally who took part in the Willard Hotel meetings.

 A 'war room' reportedly set up in a luxury Washington hotel by advisers of former president Donald Trump has become the focus of the congressional investigation into the violent January 6 attack on the US Capitol. AFP

Warrants are issued for the leaders of the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, along with Robert Patrick Lewis, chairman of the 1st Amendment Praetorian.

Federal judge Tanya Chutkan denies Mr Trump's October request to seal archived documents, writing in a 39-page ruling that he “appears to be premised on the notion that his executive power 'exists in perpetuity'".

Mr Trump appeals against the ruling and, after he is again denied, he takes his case to the Supreme Court.

Mr Bannon surrenders to the FBI.

December 2021

Mr Meadows stops co-operating and sues Ms Pelosi and the committee. The House votes in favour of holding him in contempt.

A committee report reveals that Mr Meadows sent an email on January 5 promising that the National Guard would “protect pro-Trump people”.

Mr Stone pleads his Fifth Amendment rights and refuses to answer questions.

January 2022

The committee says they have all emails exchanged between Mr Meadows and Fox News host Sean Hannity and have also asked Hannity to comply with requests to speak.

One notable January 6 insurrectionist co-operating with the committee is former Olympic gold medallist, swimmer Klete Keller, who pleaded guilty to obstruction.

Keller’s plea deal includes a co-operation agreement and prosecutors say that he is already providing useful information.

February 2022

The Republican Party censures Ms Cheney and Mr Kinzinger over their involvement in Congress's investigation.

March 2022

A House Select Committee court filing suggests Mr Trump and his lawyer John Eastman may have been involved in “criminal conspiracy”. The filing marks the first time the committee has linked a formal crime to Mr Trump.

Mr Eastman has been claiming attorney-client privilege, making his communications with Mr Trump inaccessible — but the House panel wants to see them.

Depending on the findings, House members may make a criminal referral to the Justice Department for Mr Trump.

The committee also issued a subpoena for the romantic partner of Donald Trump Jr, Kimberly Guilfoyle, who initially had told investigators that she would voluntarily appear.

“Ms Guilfoyle met with Donald Trump inside the White House, spoke at the rally that took place before the riot on January 6th, and apparently played a key role organizing and raising funds for that event,” Mr Thompson said.

April 2022

Ivanka Trump appears before the committee. It asked the 40-year-old businesswoman — a senior adviser to her father — to appear voluntarily, telling her it had evidence that she had pleaded with him to call off the violence as his supporters stormed Congress.

"She's answering questions. I mean, you know, not in a broad, chatty term, but she's answering questions," Representative Bennie Thompson, the panel's Democratic chairman, says on CNN.

May 2022

Five members of Congress who participated in meetings at the White House, those who had direct conversations with Mr Trump leading up to and during the attack on the Capitol, and those who were involved in the planning and co-ordination of certain activities on and before January 6 are summoned by the panel.

They include:

Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who, according to the panel, was in communication with Mr Trump before, during, and after the attack on January 6th. Mr McCarthy also claimed to have had a discussion with the president in the immediate aftermath during which Mr Trump admitted some culpability for the attack.

Representative Scott Perry was directly involved with efforts to corrupt the Department of Justice and install Jeffrey Clark as acting Attorney General and made claims that Dominion voting machines had been corrupted.

Representative Jim Jordan was in communication with Mr Trump on January 6 and participated in meetings and discussions about strategies for overturning the 2020 election.

Representative Mo Brooks spoke at the rally on January 6, encouraging rioters to “start taking down names and kicking ass”.

June 2022

Peter Navarro, former trade adviser to Mr Trump, is indicted on two counts of contempt of Congress for his failure to comply with a subpoena from the House of Representatives committee investigating the January 6 attack on the US Capitol, the Justice Department says.

A federal grand jury charged Mr Navarro with one count involving his refusal to appear for a deposition before the committee and another count for his refusal to produce documents.

Updated: June 08, 2022, 7:44 PM
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