January 6 investigation: six takeaways from the hearings

From Secret Service agents saying goodbye to their families to claims Trump did nothing to stop the violence, here are the latest updates

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Thursday's congressional committee hearing into the January 6 US Capitol riot by supporters of Donald Trump featured minute-by-minute accountings of the former president's actions ― and inaction ― as his supporters launched a violent attack.

Here are six takeaways from the hearing:

Hawley raises fist, then runs:

An image of Republican Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri encouraging a gathering crowd outside the Capitol on January 6, 2021 is displayed during a hearing of the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the US Capitol begins, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, USA, 21 July 2022.  The committee has now held eight public hearings.   EPA / JIM LO SCALZO

The committee showed a well-known image of conservative Republican Senator Josh Hawley, who is thought to be considering running for president, outside the Capitol raising his arm, hand balled into a fist, to encourage the gathering angry crowds still being held behind security lines.

While that image was familiar, indeed one that Mr Hawley has used to raise money, the committee followed up with new images: several video clips of Mr Hawley running from the rioters, first fleeing across a hallway and later down a flight of steps.

The hearing room, packed with reporters, congressional aides, security staff and visitors broke into laughter as the footage was played.

Saying goodbye to families:

Vice President Mike Pence sheltered in his ceremonial office on the second floor of the Senate as rioters pushed closer and closer, as seen in videos shown at the hearing.

There was smoke in a nearby hallway as US Capitol Police tried to corral a group of attackers, and Secret Service agents desperately tried to figure out whether they could safely move Mr Pence to another location on the Capitol grounds.

“The security detail of the vice president was starting to fear for their own lives,” one White House security official testified on video played at the hearing.

Rioters were a few feet away, the official testified, with agents “screaming and saying goodbye to family”.

Mr Pence was, ultimately, hurried to a Capitol loading dock.

January 6 'emboldened' US adversaries:

Supporters of Iraq's Popular Mobilisation Forces prepare to burn a large printed image of the US  Embassy, to mark the anniversary of the killing of Iranian Quds Force general Qassem Soleimani. Reuters

Matthew Pottinger, a deputy national security adviser under Mr Trump, testified that the riot not only resulted in US allies voicing concern “about the health of our democracy,” but also gave comfort to America's adversaries.

“I think it emboldened our enemies by helping give them ammunition to feed a narrative that our system of government doesn't work; that the United States is in decline,” Mr Pottinger said.

Even before January 6, as Mr Trump falsely claimed the presidential election was stolen from him, Mr Pottinger said he feared Washington's adversaries would be tempted to test US resolve, noting an attack in late December on the US embassy in Baghdad by Iraqi militias he said were backed by Iran.

High-profile hearings far from over:

Committee chairman Bennie Thompson said the investigation was continuing as more people had offered to come forward as witnesses.

Mr Thompson tamped down speculation that this eighth hearing of the summer may be the last, saying more hearings are in store in September, a few weeks before the November 8 midterm elections that will decide whether Republicans take majority control of the Senate or House of Representatives.

Mr Trump 'chose' not to stop the riot:

Representative Adam Kinzinger, one of two Republicans on the House's select committee, portrayed a president who was satisfied with the violence he watched unfolding at the Capitol on January 6.

“The mob was accomplishing President Trump's purpose, so of course, he didn't intervene” to stop the violence until more than three hours after it had begun, Kinzinger said.

“President Trump did not fail to act during the 187 minutes between leaving the Ellipse and telling the mob to go home. He chose not to act.”

Trump made no calls to top officials:

High-ranking officials, including Pat Cipollone, White House Counsel at the time, gave evidence on pre-recorded messages that Mr Trump watched television for hours in the White House dining room during the Capitol riot.

They said that they were not aware of Mr Trump making phone calls to Cabinet officials, including the secretaries of defence and homeland security, the attorney general or the National Guard, all of whom could have aided in stopping the violence on Capitol Hill.

Updated: July 22, 2022, 8:46 AM
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