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Trump 'summoned a violent mob, intended to remain president'

Congressional panel probing US Capitol riot blames Trump for ‘attempted coup’

House committee opens first hearing with new footage of deadly violence and startling testimony from Trump’s inner circle, tying his lies about election fraud to the Jan. 6 attack

  • Vice Chair Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., gives her opening remarks as Committee Chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., left, looks on, as the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol holds its first public hearing to reveal the findings of a year-long investigation, at the Capitol in Washington, June 9, 2022. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
    Vice Chair Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., gives her opening remarks as Committee Chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., left, looks on, as the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol holds its first public hearing to reveal the findings of a year-long investigation, at the Capitol in Washington, June 9, 2022. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
  • US President Donald Trump arrives to speak at a rally of his supporters on January 6, 2021, in Washington, shortly before the mob assault on the US Capitol. (AP/Jacquelyn Martin)
    US President Donald Trump arrives to speak at a rally of his supporters on January 6, 2021, in Washington, shortly before the mob assault on the US Capitol. (AP/Jacquelyn Martin)
  • A video showing former White House Senior Advisor Jared Kushner speaking during an interview with the Jan. 6th Committee is shown as committee members from left to right, Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., Vice Chair Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., and Rep. Elaine Luria, D-Va., look on, as the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol holds its first public hearing to reveal the findings of a year-long investigation, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, June 9, 2022. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
    A video showing former White House Senior Advisor Jared Kushner speaking during an interview with the Jan. 6th Committee is shown as committee members from left to right, Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., Vice Chair Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., and Rep. Elaine Luria, D-Va., look on, as the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol holds its first public hearing to reveal the findings of a year-long investigation, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, June 9, 2022. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
  • Rioters try to break through a police barrier at the Capitol in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)
    Rioters try to break through a police barrier at the Capitol in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)
  • An activist holds a sign next to a line of people waiting to enter the Cannon Building, Thursday, June 9, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
    An activist holds a sign next to a line of people waiting to enter the Cannon Building, Thursday, June 9, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
  • Vice Chair Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., left, listens as Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., gives an opening statement as the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol holds its first public hearing to reveal the findings of a year-long investigation, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, June 9, 2022. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, Pool)
    Vice Chair Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., left, listens as Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., gives an opening statement as the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol holds its first public hearing to reveal the findings of a year-long investigation, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, June 9, 2022. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, Pool)
  • U.S. Capitol Police Sgt. Harry Dunn, right, and Sandra Garza, the long-time partner of Capitol Hill Police Officer Brian Sicknick who died shortly after the Jan. 6 attack, left, react as a video of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol is played during a public hearing of the House select committee investigating the attack is held on Capitol Hill, Thursday, June 9, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
    U.S. Capitol Police Sgt. Harry Dunn, right, and Sandra Garza, the long-time partner of Capitol Hill Police Officer Brian Sicknick who died shortly after the Jan. 6 attack, left, react as a video of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol is played during a public hearing of the House select committee investigating the attack is held on Capitol Hill, Thursday, June 9, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
  • This combination of photos shows the members of the House select committee tasked with investigating the Jan. 6, attack. Top row from left, Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., Chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., Rep. Elaine Luria, D-Va., and Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif. Bottom row from left, Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., and Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif. (AP Photo)
    This combination of photos shows the members of the House select committee tasked with investigating the Jan. 6, attack. Top row from left, Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., Chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., Rep. Elaine Luria, D-Va., and Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif. Bottom row from left, Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., and Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif. (AP Photo)
  • An image of Ivanka Trump is displayed on a screen as the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol holds its first public hearing to reveal the findings of a year-long investigation, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, June 9, 2022.  (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via AP, Pool)
    An image of Ivanka Trump is displayed on a screen as the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol holds its first public hearing to reveal the findings of a year-long investigation, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, June 9, 2022. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via AP, Pool)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House panel investigating the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol laid the blame firmly on Donald Trump Thursday night, saying the assault was hardly spontaneous but an “attempted coup” and a direct result of the defeated president’s effort to overturn the 2020 election.

With a never-before-seen 12-minute video of the deadly violence and startling testimony from Trump’s most inner circle, the 1/6 committee provided gripping detail in contending that Trump’s repeated lies about election fraud and his public effort to stop Joe Biden’s victory led to the attack and imperiled American democracy

“Democracy remains in danger,” said Democratic Representative Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, chairman of the panel, during the hearing, timed for prime time to reach as many Americans as possible.

“January 6 was the culmination of an attempted coup, a brazen attempt, as one rioter put it shortly after January 6, to overthrow the government,” Thompson said. “The violence was no accident.”

In a previously unseen video clip, the panel played a quip from former Attorney General Bill Barr who testified that he told Trump the claims of a rigged election were “bull——.”

In another, the former president’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, testified to the committee that she respected Barr’s view that there was no election fraud. “I accepted what he said.”

Rioters try to break through a police barrier at the Capitol in Washington on January 6, 2021. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

Others showed leaders of the extremist Oath Keepers and Proud Boys preparing to storm the Capitol to stand up for Trump. One rioter after another told the committee they came to the Capitol because Trump asked them to.

“President Trump summoned a violent mob,” said Republican Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the panel’s vice chair who took the lead for much of the hearing. “When a president fails to take the steps necessary to preserve our union — or worse, causes a constitutional crisis — we’re in a moment of maximum danger for our republic.”

US President Donald Trump arrives to speak at a rally of his supporters on January 6, 2021, in Washington, shortly before the mob assault on the US Capitol. (AP/Jacquelyn Martin)

There was an audible gasp in the hearing room when Cheney read an account that said when Trump was told the Capitol mob was chanting for vice president Mike Pence to be hanged, Trump responded that maybe they were right, that he “deserves it.”

Cheney, said of Trump: “Aware of the rioters’ chants to ‘hang Mike Pence’ [his vice-president, for refusing Trump’s demand to reject the certification of Joe Biden’s election victory], the president responded with this sentiment: ‘Maybe our supporters have the right idea.’ Mike Pence ‘deserves’ it.”

“All Americans should keep in mind this fact,” Cheney went on: “On the morning of January 6, President Donald Trump’s intention was to remain president of the United States despite the lawful outcome of the 2020 election and in violation of his constitutional obligation to relinquish power.”

Police officers who had fought off the mob consoled one another as they sat in the committee room reliving the violence they faced on January 6. Officer Harry Dunn teared up as bodycam footage showed rioters bludgeoning his colleagues with flagpoles and baseball bats.

In wrenching testimony US Capitol Police officer Caroline Edwards told the panel that she slipped in other people’s blood as rioters pushed past her into the Capitol. She suffered brain injuries in the melee.

“It was carnage it was chaos,” she said.

Biden, in Los Angeles for the Summit of the Americas, said many viewers were “going to be seeing for the first time a lot of the detail that occurred.”

Trump, unapologetic, dismissed the investigation anew — and even declared on social media that January 6 “represented the greatest movement in the history of our country.”

Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee tweeted: “All. Old. News.”

The result of the two-hour hearing and coming weeks of public hearings may not change hearts or minds in politically polarized America. But the committee’s investigation with 1,000 interviews is intended to stand as a public record for history. A final report aims to provide an accounting of the most violent attack on the Capitol since the British set fire to it in 1814 and to ensure such an attack never happens again.

The riot left more than 100 police officers injured, many beaten and bloodied, as the crowd of pro-Trump rioters, some armed with pipes, bats and bear spray, charged into the Capitol. At least nine people who were there died during and after the rioting, including a woman who was shot and killed by police.

Emotions are still raw at the Capitol, and security was tight for the hearing. Law enforcement officials reported a spike in threats against members of Congress.

Against this backdrop, the committee was speaking to a divided America, ahead of the fall midterm elections when voters decide which party controls Congress. Most TV networks carried the hearing live. Fox News Channel did not.

The committee chairman, civil rights leader Thompson opened the hearing with a sweep of American history. saying he heard in those denying the stark reality of January 6 his own experience growing up in a time and place “where people justified the action of slavery, the Ku Klux Klan and lynching.”

Cheney, the daughter of former vice president Dick Cheney, outlined what the committee has learned about the events leading up to that brisk January day when Trump sent his supporters to Congress to “fight like hell” for his presidency as lawmakers undertook the typically routine job of certifying the previous November’s results.

US Capitol Police Sgt. Harry Dunn, right, and Sandra Garza, the long-time partner of Capitol Hill Police Officer Brian Sicknick who died shortly after the January 6 attack, left, react as a video of the January 6 attack on the US Capitol is played during a public hearing of the House select committee investigating the attack is held on Capitol Hill, June 9, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Among those testifying was documentary maker Nick Quested, who filmed the Proud Boys storming the Capitol — along with a pivotal meeting between the group’s then-chairman Henry “Enrique” Tarrio and another extremist group, the Oath Keepers, the night before in nearby parking garage.

Court documents show that members of the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers were discussing as early as November a need to fight to keep Trump in office. Leaders of both groups and some members have since been indicted on rare sedition charges over the military-style attack.

In the audience were several lawmakers who were trapped together in the House gallery during the attack.

“We want to remind people, we were there, we saw what happened,” said Democratic Representative Dean Phillips of Minnesota. ”We know how close we came to the first non-peaceful transition of power in this country.”

In the weeks ahead, the panel is expected to detail Trump’s public campaign to “Stop the Steal” and the private pressure he put on the Justice Department to reverse his election loss — despite dozens of failed court cases and his own attorney general attesting there was no fraud on a scale that could have tipped the results in his favor.

The panel faced obstacles from its start. Republicans blocked the formation of an independent body that could have investigated the January 6 assault the way the 9/11 Commission probed the 2001 terror attack.

An activist holds a sign next to a line of people waiting to enter the Cannon Building, Thursday, June 9, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Instead, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ushered the creation of the 1/6 panel through Congress over the objections of Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell. She rejected Republican-appointed lawmakers who had voted on January 6 against certifying the election results, eventually naming seven Democrats and two Republicans.

House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy, who has been caught up in the probe and has defied the committee’s subpoena for an interview, echoed Trump on Thursday. He called the panel a “scam” and labeled the investigation a political “smokescreen” for Democrats’ priorities.

The hearings are expected to introduce Americans to a cast of characters, some well known, others elusive, and to what they said and did as Trump and his allies tried to reverse the election outcome.

The Justice Department has arrested and charged more than 800 people for the violence that day, the biggest dragnet in its history.

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