Jan. 6 hearing: Here’s what to watch for from today’s witnesses





CNN
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The House select committee investigating January 6, 2021, is holding their last hearing before the midterm elections Thursday, giving the panel one more opportunity to hammer home its message that former President Donald Trump is still dangerous to democracy.

The committee is scheduled to return to the public eye at 1 p.m. ET, amid a markedly changed investigative landscape. In the months since the last hearing, the FBI searched the former President’s Mar-a-Lago estate as part of its investigation into the apparent mishandling and retention of sensitive government documents. In a separate probe, the Justice Department has fired off subpoenas to dozens of individuals connected to Trump, as its investigation into efforts to subvert the 2020 election intensifies and expands.

Still, sources tell CNN the committee plans to lay out its case at Thursday’s hearing that Trump remains a “clear and present danger” over his efforts to overturn the election in 2020 and what that means for a 2024 campaign where he’s a potential Republican frontrunner.

And committee aides told reporters on Wednesday that the hearing will examine Trump’s “state of mind,” in addition to events leading up to and following January 6.

Thursday’s hearing will “bring a particular focus on the former President’s state of mind and his involvement in these events as they unfolded,” committee aides said.

Committee aides indicated there won’t be any live witnesses at Thursday’s hearing, but said there would be video testimony and documentary evidence that hasn’t been seen before.

Sources say some of the new evidence will come from new witnesses who only spoke to the committee in recent months, which could include several of Trump’s former Cabinet secretaries: Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and former Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.

Other portions of new testimony will come from witnesses the committee has presented in previous hearings, aides say.

Sources also say the hearing is likely to feature testimony from former Trump officials who resigned after January 6.

Since its last hearing in July, the committee has received more than a million communications from the Secret Service from the lead-up to the riot. Committee aides told reporters Wednesday that the upcoming hearing will feature some of that new material, including emails and video handed over by the service.

“We will be presenting a great deal of new documentary evidence tomorrow as well,” a select committee aide told reporters. “And certainly among that evidence will include information from the hundreds of thousands of pages that the United States Secret Service has produced to the committee pursuant to the committee’s subpoena of July.”

In addition, the aide shared that the hearing will feature “new video footage showing efforts to respond in real time to the violence of January 6 as that violence was unfolding.”

It’s been nearly three months since the committee last held a public hearing, and committee members are likely to use Thursday’s session to recap to viewers what the panel unearthed in its series of summer hearings.

The committee showed testimony from numerous former aides of Donald Trump to make its case that Trump was told he lost the election, was behind plans to try to overturn his loss to Joe Biden and was warned that January 6 could turn violent.

Some of the most damning testimony came from young aides like Cassidy Hutchinson, the former top aide to Trump’s final White House chief of staff Mark Meadows. Hutchinson testified that Trump was told his supporters were armed and argued with his Secret Service detail to take him to the Capitol after his speech on January 6 – to the point he grabbed at the steering wheel and his lead Secret Service agent while in the vehicle.

The committee’s hearings included numerous live witnesses, including Hutchinson, but some of the most compelling evidence against Trump came from hundreds of video depositions. The committee showed testimony from Trump’s former Attorney General William Barr saying he told Trump his claims of election fraud were bulls***, and former Trump White House lawyer Eric Herschmann saying he warned that Trump’s scheme to toss out electors on January 6 was “going to cause riots in the streets.”

Thursday’s hearing gives the committee one last chance before the midterms to remind potential voters about the case they’ve built against Trump’s attempts to overturn the election and the violence that ensued at the Capitol.

One of the unique features of the committee’s series of summer hearings was that each was led by a different committee member or two – meaning a majority of panel members did not speak at any given hearing.

It was a quite un-Congress-like posture for congressional hearings, where the January 6 committee’s choreographed presentations replaced the typical scattershot sessions where every member gets five minutes to question witnesses or make a speech.

The committee’s final hearing is still likely to go as the panel plans it – the seven Democrats and two Republicans on the committee are all working together on the sprawling investigation. But for the first time, every member of the committee will have a speaking role at Thursday’s hearing, according to aides, as each presents a different portion of the committee’s presentation.

While this is the committee’s last hearing before the midterms, the panel’s work is not yet complete, and aides cautioned against the hearing being the panel’s final word, noting that the investigation is still ongoing.

The committee just recently interviewed Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, and the panel last month subpoenaed Wisconsin GOP Assembly Speaker Robin Vos for testimony, which Vos sued to stop.

The committee also hasn’t yet said whether it will formally seek testimony from Trump himself or former Vice President Mike Pence. One committee aide declined to elaborate on whether the committee will take that step.

The select committee’s investigation has been working toward a final report, though it’s still not clear what shape that will take or when it might be released. Sources say the panel has also not yet made any decision on whether to make any criminal referrals to the Department of Justice.

But regardless of the status of the investigation, the committee has an external deadline less than three months away: the end of the 117th Congress on January 3, 2023, when Republicans are favored to take control of the House in the midterms.



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