On Monday morning at 10 a.m. ET, the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the United States Capitol will hold the second of several public hearings to share some of what it has learned during its 11-month investigation.
The hearing will be presented as a CBS News Special Report, hosted by Norah O’Donnell, anchor of “CBS Evening News” and managing editor of CBS News. John Dickerson, CBS News’ chief political commentator, will be joined by Major Garrett, CBS News’ main Washington correspondent, Nancy Cordes, Robert Costa, CBS News’ chief election and campaign correspondent, and congressional correspondents Scott MacFarlane and Nikole Killion.
The “Big Lie,” which documents how former President Donald Trump declared victory on election night despite being told he didn’t have the numbers to win, and how he proceeded to accept bogus charges of electoral fraud, according to committee aides.
“We’re going to hear testimony from government personnel who were on the lookout for the fraud, and how the attempt to expose these unfounded charges yielded no results,” a committee aide said. “Simply put, the fraud they were seeking for didn’t exist, and the former president was repeatedly told that his assertions were unfounded, but he kept repeating them regardless.”
Two panels of witnesses will testify at the hearing on Monday. The first panel will feature former Trump campaign manager William Stepien and former Fox News political director Chris Stirewalt, who was fired by Fox News shortly after the 2020 presidential election after his team correctly predicted Joe Biden’s victory in Arizona ahead of other networks. Former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia BJ Pak, who resigned effective Jan. 4, 2021, and former Philadelphia city commissioner Al Schmidt will make up the second panel.
Some of the witnesses are likely to testify about the fundamentals of election litigation and how such cases typically progress. The committee will also show that Trump campaign advisers used electoral fraud claims to raise hundreds of millions of dollars between the election and January 6th, according to a committee aide. Finally, the committee will demonstrate that “some of those responsible for the bloodshed on the 6th echoed back those very same lies that the former president sold in the run-up to the insurgency,” according to the aide.
The second hearing, according to committee vice chair Rep. Liz Cheney, would establish that “Donald Trump and his aides realised that he had, in fact, lost the election.”
“Despite this, President Trump embarked on a vast campaign to disseminate misleading and fraudulent material in order to persuade large segments of the American public that fraud had stolen the election from him. This was not the case “At the hearing on Thursday, Cheney stated.
The first public hearing, which took place on Thursday, was headed by Cheney and committee chair Rep. Bennie Thompson. The committee attempted to link Trump’s unfounded accusations of a rigged election to the turmoil and bloodshed of January 6, which Thompson described as the “culmination of an attempted coup.”
Some of Trump’s closest allies testified that they informed him he didn’t win the election. Thompson aired a clip from former Attorney General William Barr’s testimony before the committee, in which he stated he warned former President Barack Obama that his accusations of a rigged election were “bullsh**.” Ivanka Trump, Trump’s daughter, said she “trusted” Barr and accepted his assertion that her father had lost the election in another video.
Members of Congress, according to Cheney, have asked Trump for pardons for their roles in the attack. Cheney cited Pennsylvania Rep. Scott Perry as one of the Republicans, a claim he rejected on Friday.
“We’re not going to make charges or say things without fact or evidence backing it,” Rep. Adam Kinzinger, Cheney’s fellow Republican on the committee, said on Sunday on “Face the Nation.”
“There will come a day when Donald Trump is gone, but your disgrace will stay,” Cheney said on Thursday to Republicans who have sided with Trump in the aftermath of the attack.
Two witnesses testified at the first hearing, in addition to the recorded testimony and some never-before-seen footage from Jan. 6: documentary filmmaker Nick Quested, who was embedded with the Proud Boys at the time of the riot, and Capitol Police officer Caroline Edwards, who suffered a traumatic brain injury on Jan. 6. On Jan. 6, Edwards described seeing a “war scene.”
“It was like something I’d seen in a movie,” Edwards remarked. “I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Officers were stationed on the ground. They were suffocating. They were passing gas. I noticed friends with blood on their faces. I was slipping through people’s veins. As they fell, I was catching them. It was a bloodbath. It was a complete disaster.”
The Proud Boys’ role in the Jan. 6 attack was also discussed during the session. Some members of the group said they believed Trump’s remark during a presidential debate to “stand back and stand by” was a call to action in video evidence aired Thursday. Quested testified that the Proud Boys were organised and on their way to the Capitol around 10 a.m., well before Trump’s Ellipse speech.
Thompson and Cheney wanted to establish that, despite the instability in the Capitol, Trump did not carry out his presidential duties. They displayed a video of Gen. Mark Milley, the current chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testifying that former Vice President Pence, not Trump, issued the orders for the National Guard to come to the scene the structure.
While Vice President Mike Pence is unlikely to attend the hearings, some of his closest advisers are. In the coming weeks, Greg Jacob, Pence’s former general counsel, Marc Short, his former chief of staff, and conservative judge J. Michael Luttig, who advised Pence prior to Jan. 6, are all expected to appear.