Five takeaways from Thursday’s primetime Jan 6 hearing

Thursday’s hearing of the January 6 committee was the panel’s second primetime meeting and focused exclusively on the actions of Donald Trump and his team during the attack on Congress itself.

As lawmakers presented their case and heard from White House witnesses, viewers were treated to shocking revelations about the sheer danger that Vice President Mike Pence and members of Congress found themseles in, as well as the unprecedented lack of care that Donald Trump showed as the events unfolded.

The hearing once again examined a day that has been picked apart endlessly by US media organisations while coming up with shocking new revelations about the day in question that upend how we understand what happened during the attack.

Let’s take a look at the most significant pieces of information gleaned from Thursday’s hearing:

Donald Trump wasn’t ignoring the riot, he was cheering it on

We finally have an answer about what Donald Trump was doing during the attack: watching Fox News, and not much else.

Aides to the president testified to the committee, according to Thursday’s hearing host Elaine Luria, that their boss returned to the White House after the rally at the Ellipse and was made aware, through the Secret Service and other sources, that Mike Pence and members of Congress were in danger.

Live updates on latest Jan 6 hearing

But despite learning that fact roughly 15 minutes after returning to the White House, Ms Luria said, he “refused to even lift another finger to help” and instead turned on Fox News to watch the riot unfold.

It would be hours before Mr Trump would go on video an address his supporters, and he never personally authorised reinforcements to the Capital.

Days later, he was still unable to even recognise his supporters’ wrongdoing. The committee played outtakes from both his January 6 on-camera statement directing rioters to leave the building, as well as from a speech a day later addressing the attack. In both instances, he was unwilling to talk about the attack itself more than absolutely necessary, and even refused to say that the election was “over” or that his supporters’ attack had been “illegal”.

Mike Pence was in serious danger

We knew as the events of January 6 unfolded in real time that Vice President Mike Pence was evacuated from the US Senate floor.

What we did not know, before today, was the sheer scope of the danger he was in from a mob of rioters who just months ago had supported his reelection.

On Thursday an anonymous White House security official and the committee unveiled how Secret Service agents protecting Mr Pence in the Capital found themselves just feet away from the riot and feared for their safety as a result, placing “very personal” calls to family with uncertainty that they would survive.

White House was on the verge of mutiny as Trump refused to act

Multiple witnesses including Cassidy Hutchinson, an aide to Mark Meadows, and former White House counsel Pat Cipollone described the behind-the-scenes mood at the White House while the riot unfolded.

What they related was an office almost totally unified behind the idea that Donald Trump needed to act and call off his supporters; an action he would not take for hours.

Aides described their disgust with the president’s actions and those of the mob, and how multiple members of Congress and Mr Trump’s own staff were repeatedly begging him, for hours, to go on camera and call off the attack.

Donald Trump’s supporters were focused on Pence and were ready for violence

The violent chants and threats espoused by the mob on Jan 6 hardly went unreported: “Hang Mike Pence” chants were widely reported as the riot unfolded and it was clear as it did that the crowd was bent towards violence.

But on Thursday the January 6 committee played the first recovered radio transmissions sent by rioters via walky-talky during the attack, and the extent to which that violence was likely to occur was laid bare.

In the transmissions one unidentified man is heard warning that terrified lawmakers hiding in secure areas were going to their “grave”; in another, a woman is heard crowing that authorities realized the mob meant business and was willing to harm members of Congress. The first rioter is also heard noting that Donald Trump’s initial tweet about the riot did not espouse concern for the safety of those lawmakers, and suggesting that it meant the president was encouraging that violence.

Another convicted rioter testified to the committee that the moment it became clear Mr Pence would not aid his boss’s efforts to overturn the election was a moment that spurred an uptick of violence in the crowd.

GOP lawmakers who minimized the attack took a far different tune as it unfolded

The January 6 committee had no shortage of shocking video and damaging news to break depicting the actions of Donald Trump and Republicans during the riot during Thursday’s hearing.

But one light-hearted moment arose when one of those Trump-aligned Republicans made an appearance in the footage, when lawmakers played (and replayed, in slow motion), the efforts of Senator Josh Hawley, a Republican, to flee through the halls of the Senate as rioters closed in.

The image of Hawley, who famously and controversially raised a fist of support to demonstrators before the riot began, running in terror from those same rioters was a moment that elicited surprised laughter throughout the hearing room as the clear about-face he had taken regarding his support for the mob was illustrated in clips that were only missing the Benny Hill theme music laid over top.

(A Twitter user later obliged by overlaying the theme, and others including Chariots of Fire, over the top of the footage.)

He wasn’t the only Republican who would later resist attempts to investigate the attack to seek cover and hide in fear from Donald Trump’s supporters as it unfolded.

According to lawmakers, Mr McCarthy hid in fear with his security detail and begged rioters to pull back via Fox News.

“People are getting hurt,” he reportedly complained to Fox ancho Bill Hemmer.

“Anyone involved in this, if you’re hearing me, hear me loud and clear: This is not the American way. This is not protected by the First Amendment,” the House minority leader warned. “This must stop now.”


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