The House select committee investigating last year’s Capitol riot is holding its eighth public hearing Thursday night — promising a look at what President Donald Trump was doing in the White House for nearly three hours while a mob of his supporters rampaged through the halls of Congress.
The committee will focus on the 187 minutes between when Trump told a crowd of supporters at a “Stop The Steal” rally on the Ellipse to “fight like hell” and when he released a video urging his followers to go home.
The panel in previous hearings has shown video clips of former White House officials’ recollections of that day, including how they raised concerns about the escalating violence, tried to convince the 45th president that his claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election were unfounded, and pleaded with him to soothe the rioters.
But there are gaps in the committee’s full account of what transpired on Jan. 6, 2021.
Before Thursday’s hearing, Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), who will lead the questioning with Rep. Elaine Lauria (D-Va.), tweeted snippets of video showing White House aides describing how Trump was glued to the television as the mayhem unfolded.
“To the best of my recollection, he was always in the dining room,” former White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said in the clip, which also included then-White House counsel Pat Cipollone confirming that Trump was watching television in the private dining room off the Oval Office.
Along with the video presentations, two former Trump White House staffers — deputy national security adviser Matthew Pottinger and deputy press secretary Sarah Matthews — are expected to provide in-person testimony.
Both were among a group of Trump administration staffers who resigned immediately after Jan. 6 and have already been deposed by the committee’s investigators.
But the panel experienced a setback in its efforts to fill out the timeline earlier this week when the Secret Service turned over just one text message from between Dec. 7, 2020, and Jan. 8, 2021, to the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general.
The Secret Service, which had been subpoenaed by the panel for the text exchanges, said the messages had been deleted during a scheduled agency-wide tech migration three weeks after the Capitol riot.
Members of the panel have accused Trump of failing to act in response to the rioters and declining to call out the National Guard to protect both lawmakers who were certifying the 2020 presidential election and Vice President Mike Pence, whose life was in danger as the rioters chanted that he should be hanged for failing to decertify the count.
“You will hear that Donald Trump never picked up the phone that day to order his administration to help,” Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the committee’s Republican vice chair, said at the panel’s July 12 hearing.
Prior to Thursday’s hearing, Trump posted on Truth Social: “Why aren’t the Unselects asking Nancy Pelosi and the Mayor of D.C. to testify as to why they turned down my recommendation on January 3rd of 10,000 to 20,000 troops to stand guard at the Capitol Building on January 6th. Had they followed this recommendation, there would have been no problem on January 6th!!! They must testify!”
Apart from Trump’s word, there is no record that any formal request was made for National Guard troops to be sent to the Capitol prior to Jan. 6 of last year.
Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), the chairman of the committee, will participate remotely after testing positive for COVID-19 earlier this week.
With Post wires
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