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Jan. 6 panel chairman contracts COVID, but prime-time hearing still on

In this September 17, 2020 file photo, Committee Chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., speaks during a House Committee on Homeland Security hearing on 'worldwide threats to the homeland,' on Capitol Hill, in Washington. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post via AP, Pool)
In this September 17, 2020 file photo, Committee Chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., speaks during a House Committee on Homeland Security hearing on 'worldwide threats to the homeland,' on Capitol Hill, in Washington. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post via AP, Pool)

Rep. Bennie Thompson, chairman of the House January 6 committee, has tested positive for COVID-19, but the panel will still hold its prime-time hearing on Thursday, according to a spokesman for the panel.

Thompson, D-Miss., announced Tuesday that he tested positive for the virus on Monday and is experiencing mild symptoms. Thompson, 74, said he will be isolating for the next several days, but January 6 committee spokesman Tim Mulvey said the committee’s eighth hearing this summer will proceed. He did not say if Thompson will participate virtually.

The news of Thompson’s diagnosis comes as the nine-member panel is preparing for the hearing, which is expected to focus on what then-US president Donald Trump was doing in the White House on January 6, 2021 for several hours as his supporters were breaking into the Capitol and interrupting the certification of Joe Biden’s presidential victory. Two White House aides who resigned immediately afterward are expected to testify, according to a person familiar with the hearing’s lineup.

Matthew Pottinger, former deputy national security adviser, and Sarah Matthews, a former deputy press secretary, are expected to testify, according to the person, who was not authorized to publicly discuss the matter and requested anonymity.

Previous hearings have detailed chaos in the White House, and aides and others were begging the president to tell the rioters to leave the Capitol. But Trump waited more than three hours to do so, and there are still many unanswered questions about what exactly he was doing and saying as the violence unfolded.

Lawmakers on the nine-member panel have said the hearing will offer the most compelling evidence yet of Trump’s “dereliction of duty” that day, with witnesses detailing his failure to stem the angry mob.

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