This program was made possible by contributions to your PBS station from viewers like you.
I'm Judy Woodruff.
And welcome to this PBS NewsHour special live coverage of the January sixth hearings held by the Select Committee of the House of Representatives to investigate last year's attack on the United States Capitol.
This hearing is the first of a series the committee plans to hold over the next three weeks.
Tonight is one of two that are expected to be held in TV primetime in the evening.
It has been a year and a half since the January 6th attack, and there are many questions still to be answered.
While the committee is technically bipartisan, with two Republicans joining seven Democratic members, the House Republican leaders charge that the hearings are a partisan effort to disparage former President Donald Trump.
Following the hearings tonight, with me are our correspondents Lisa Desjardins at the Capitol and Geoff Bennett at the White House.
And let me start with both of you.
To you, Lisa, I know you've been following this as the committee has been doing its work.
This is tonight, we are going to begin to see the results of that.
Give us a sense of what we expect to see.
For the members of this committee, this is a high stakes hearing.
They think that this is about democracy itself in danger, the threat from January sixth, which they believe is still here.
And they will lay out evidence from a thousand interviews that they conducted over the past year that they say adds up to a multistep conspiracy with former President Donald Trump at the center, which is what they will say caused January 6.
Also, Judy, interesting to note, in that cavernous room, you see it just behind me here at the Cannon House Office Building, this will be a multimedia presentation with video, with documentary kind of feel to it.
This will be the most highly produced congressional hearing in history.
Let's go quickly to the chair, Bennie Thompson.
Without objection, the chair is authorized to declare the committee in recess at any point.
Pursuant to House Deposition Authority Regulation ten, the chair announces the committee's approval to release the deposition material presented during tonight's hearing.
Thanks to everyone watching tonight for sharing part of your evening to learn the facts and causes of the events leading up to and including the violent attack on January 6, 2021, our democracy, electoral system and country.
I'm Bennie Thompson, the chairman of the January 6th, 2021 committee.
I was born, raised and still live in Bolton, Mississippi, a town with a population of 521, which is midway between Jackson and Vicksburg, Mississippi, and the Mississippi River.
I'm from a part of the country where people justify the actions of slavery, the Ku Klux Klan and lynching.
I'm reminded of that dark history as I hear voices today try and justify the actions of the insurrectionists on January 6th, 2021.
Over the next few weeks, hopefully you will get to know the other members, my colleagues up here, and me.
We represent a diversity of communities from all over the United States, rural areas and cities, East Coast, West Coast and the heartland.
All of us have one thing in common.
We swore the same oath, that same oath that all members of Congress take up on taking office and afterwards, every two years, if they are reelected.
We swore an oath to defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.
The words of the current oath taken by all of us that nearly every United States government employee takes have their roots in the Civil War.
Throughout our history, the United States has fought against foreign enemies to preserve our democracy, electoral system and country.
When the United States Capitol was stormed and burned in 1814, foreign enemies were responsible.
After war in 1862, when American citizens had taken up arms against this country, Congress adopted a new oath to help make sure no person who had supported the rebellion could hold a position of public trust.
Therefore, Congresspersons and United States federal government employees were required for the first time to swear an oath to defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.
That oath was put to test on January 6, 2021.
The police officers who held the line that day honored their oath.
Many came out of that day bloodied and broken.
They still bear those wounds visible and invisible.
They did their duty.
They repelled the mob and ended the occupation of the capital.
They defended the Constitution against domestic enemies so that Congress could return, uphold our own oath, and count your votes to ensure the transfer of power, just as we've done for hundreds of years.
But unlike in 1814, it was domestic enemies of the Constitution who stormed the Capitol and occupied the Capitol, who sought to thwart the will of the people to stop the transfer of power.
And so they did so at the encouragement of the president of the United States, the president of the United States trying to stop the transfer of power, a precedent that had stood for 220 years, even as our democracy had faced its most difficult test.
Thinking back again to the Civil War in the summer of 1864, the President of the United States believed we would be doomed to his bid for reelection.
He believed his opponent, General George McClellan, would wave the white flag when it came to preserving the union.
But even with that grim fate hanging in the balance, President Lincoln was ready to accept the will of the voters, come what may.
He made a quiet pledge.
He wrote down the words: This morning, as for some days past, it seems exceedingly probable that this administration will not be reelected, and it will be my duty to so cooperate with the president elect.
It will be my duty.
Lincoln sealed that memo and asked his cabinet secretaries to sign it sight unseen.
He asked them to make the same commitment he did to accept defeat if indeed defeat was the will of the people, to uphold the rule of law, to do what every president who came before him did, and what every president who followed him would do, until Donald Trump.
Donald Trump lost the presidential election in 2020.
The American people voted him out of office.
It was not because of a rigged system.
It was not because of voter fraud.
Don't believe me?
Hear what his former attorney general had to say about it.
I warn those watching that this contains strong language.
No, just what I've been through, I've had, I had three discussions with the president that I can recall.
One was on November 23rd.
One was on December 1st and one was on December 14th, and I've been through sort of the give and take of those discussions.
And in that context, I made it clear I did not agree with the idea of saying the election was stolen and putting out this stuff, which I told the president was bullshit.
And, you know, I didn't want to be a part of it.
And that's one of the reasons that went into me deciding to leave when I did.
I observed, I think it was on December 1st, that, you know, how can we, you can't live in a world where the incumbent administration stays in power based on its view, unsupported by specific evidence, that the election, that there was fraud in the election.
Bill Barr, on Election Day 2020.
He was the attorney general of the United States, the top law enforcement official in the country, telling the president exactly what he thought about claims of a stolen election.
Donald Trump had his days in court to challenge the results.
He was within his rights to seek those judgment.
In the United States, law abiding citizens have those tools for pursuing justice.
He lost in the courts just as he did at the ballot box.
And in this country, that's the end of the line.
But for Donald Trump, that was only the beginning of what became a sprawling multistep conspiracy aimed at overturning the presidential election, aimed at throwing out the votes of millions of Americans, your votes, your voice in our democracy, and replacing the will of the American people with his will to remain in power after his term ended.
Donald Trump was at the center of this conspiracy.
And ultimately, Donald Trump, the president of the United States, spurred a mob of domestic enemies of the Constitution to march down the Capitol and subvert American democracy.
Any legal jargon you hear about seditious conspiracy, obstruction of an official proceeding, conspiracy to defraud the United States, boils down to this.
January 6 was the culmination of an attempted coup, a brazen attempt, as one rioter put it shortly after January 6th, to overthrow the government.
The violence was no accident.
It represents in it Trump's last stand, most desperate chance to halt the transfer of power.
Now, you may hear those words and think this is just another political attack on Donald Trump by people who don't like him.
That's not the case.
My colleagues and I all wanted an outside independent commission to investigate January 6, similar to what we had after 9/11.
But after first agreeing to the idea, Donald Trump's allies in Congress put a stop to it.
Apparently, they don't want January 6 investigated at all.
And in the last 17 months, many of those same people have tried to whitewash what happened on January 6 to rewrite history, call it a tourist visit, label it legitimate political discourse.
Donald Trump and his followers have adopted the words of the songwriter: Do you believe me or your lying eyes?
We can't sweep what happened under the rug.
The American people deserve answers.
So I come before you this evening not as a Democrat, but as an American who swore an oath to defend the Constitution.
The Constitution does not protect just Democrats or just Republicans.
It protects all of us, we the people.
And this scheme was an attempt to undermine the will of the people.
So tonight and over the next few weeks, we're going to remind you of the reality of what happened that day.
But our work must do much more than just look backwards.
The cause of our democracy remains in danger.
The conspiracy to thwart the will of the people is not over.
There are those in this audience who thirst for power but have no love or respect for what makes America great: devotion to the Constitution, allegiance to the rule of law, our shared journey to build a more perfect union.
January 6 and the lies that led to insurrection have put two and a half centuries of constitutional democracy at risk.
The world is watching what we do here.
America has long been expected to be a shining city on the hill, a beacon of hope and freedom, a model for others, when we are at our best.
How can we play that role when our house is in such disorder?
We must confront the truth with candor, resolve and determination.
We need to show that we are worthy of the gifts that are the birthright of every American.
That begins here and it begins now, with a true accounting of what happened and what led to the attack on our Constitution and our democracy.
In this moment, when the dangers of our Constitution and our democracy loom large, nothing could be more important.
Working alongside the public servants on this dais has been one of the greatest honors of my time in Congress.
It's been a particular privilege to count as a partner in this effort and to count as a friend the gentlewoman from Wyoming, Miss Cheney.
She's a patriot, a public servant of profound courage, of devotion to her oath and the Constitution.
It's my pleasure to recognize Miss Cheney for her opening statement.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
And let me echo those words about the importance of bipartisanship and what a tremendous honor it is to work on this committee.
Mr. Chairman, at 6:01 p.m. on January 6, after he spent hours watching a violent mob besiege, attack and invade our Capitol, Donald Trump tweeted that he did not condemn the attack.
Instead, he justified it.
These are the things and events that happen, he said, when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously and viciously stripped away from great patriots who've been badly and unfairly treated for so long.
As you will see in the hearings to come, President Trump believed his supporters at the Capitol, and I quote, "were doing what they should be doing."
This is what he told his staff as they pleaded with him to call off the mob, to instruct his supporters to leave.
Over a series of hearings in the coming weeks, you will hear testimony live and on video from more than half a dozen former White House staff in the Trump administration, all of whom were in the West Wing of the White House on January 6.
You will hear testimony that, quote, "The president did not really want to put anything out calling off the riot or asking his supporters to leave."
You will hear that President Trump was yelling and, quote, "really angry" at advisers who told him he needed to be doing something more.
And aware of the rioters chance to hang Mike Pence, the president responded with this sentiment, quote, "Maybe our supporters have the right idea."
Mike Pence, quote, "deserves it."
You will hear evidence that President Trump refused for hours to do what his staff, his family and many of his other advisers begged him to do, immediately instruct his supporters to stand down and evacuate the Capitol.
Tonight, you will see never before seen footage of the brutal attack on our Capitol, an attack that unfolded while a few blocks away, President Trump sat watching television in the dining room next to the Oval Office.
You will hear audio from the brave police officers battling for their lives and ours, fighting to defend our democracy against a violent mob Donald Trump refused to call off.
Tonight and in the weeks to come, you will see evidence of what motivated this violence, including directly from those who participated in this attack.
You will see video of them explaining what caused them to do it.
You will see their posts on social media.
We will show you what they have said in federal court.
On this point, there is no room for debate.
Those who invaded our capital and battled law enforcement for hours were motivated by what President Trump had told them: that the election was stolen and that he was the rightful president.
President Trump summoned the mob, assembled the mob and lit the flame of this attack.
You will also hear about plots to commit seditious conspiracy on January 6, a crime defined in our laws as conspiring to overthrow, put down or destroy by force the government of the United States, or to oppose by force the authority thereof.
Multiple members of two groups, the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys, have been charged with this crime for their involvement in the events leading up to and on January 6.
Some have pled guilty.
The attack on our capital was not a spontaneous riot.
Intelligence available before January 6 identified plans to, quote, "invade the Capitol, occupy the Capitol" and take other steps to halt Congress's count of electoral votes that day.
In our hearings to come, we will identify elements of those plans, and we will show specifically how a group of Proud Boys led a mob into the Capitol building on January 6.
Tonight, I'm going to describe for you some of what our committee has learned and highlight initial findings you will see this month in our hearings.
As you hear this, all Americans should keep, in fact, in mind this fact.
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.
Over multiple months, Donald Trump oversaw and coordinated a sophisticated seven part plan to overturn the presidential election and prevent the transfer of presidential power.
In our hearings, you will see evidence of each element of this plan.
In our second hearing, you will see that Donald Trump and his advisers knew that he had, in fact, lost the election.
But despite this, President Trump engaged in a massive effort to spread false and fraudulent information to convince huge portions of the U.S. population that fraud had stolen the election from him.
This was not true.
Jason Miller was a senior Trump campaign spokesman.
In this clip, Miller describes a call between the Trump campaign's internal data expert and President Trump a few days after the 2020 election.
I was in the Oval Office and at some point in the conversation, Matt Oczkowski, who is the lead data person, was brought on and I remember he delivered to the president pretty blunt terms that he was going to lose.
And that was based, Mr. Miller, on Matt and the data team's assessment of the sort of county by county, state by state results as reported?
Alex Cannon was one of President Trump's campaign lawyers.
He previously worked for the Trump Organization.
One of his responsibilities was to assess allegations of election fraud in November 2020.
Here is one sample of his testimony discussing what he told White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.
I remember a call with Mr. Meadows where Mr. Meadows was asking me what I was finding and if I was finding anything, and I remember sharing with him that we weren't finding anything that would be sufficient to change the results in any of the key states.
When was that conversation?
Probably in November, mid to late November, I think it was before my child was born.
And what was Mr. Meadows' reaction to that information?
I believe the words he used were, "So there's no there there."
There's no there there.
The Trump campaign's general counsel, Matt Morgan, gave similar testimony.
He explained that all of the fraud allegations and the campaign's other election arguments, taken together and viewed in the best possible light for President Trump, could still not change the outcome of the election.
President Trump's attorney general, Bill Barr, also told Donald Trump his election claims were wrong.
I repeatedly told the president in no uncertain terms that I did not see evidence of fraud, and, you know, that would have affected the outcome of the election.
And frankly, a year and a half later, I haven't seen anything to change my mind on that.
Attorney General Barr also told President Trump that his allegations about Dominion voting machines were groundless.
I saw absolutely zero basis for the allegations, but they were made in such a sensational way that they obviously were influencing a lot of people, members of the public.
That there was this systemic corruption in the system and that their votes didn't count, and that these machines controlled by somebody else were actually determining it, which was complete nonsense.
And it was being laid out there.
And I told them that it was, that it was crazy stuff and they were wasting their time on that.
And it was doing a grave disservice to the country.
But President Trump persisted, repeating the false Dominion allegations in public at least a dozen more times, even after his attorney general told him they were, quote, "complete nonsense."
And after Barr's resignation on December 23rd, the acting attorney general who replaced him, Jeff Rosen, and the acting deputy, Richard Donoghue, told President Trump over and over again that the evidence did not support allegations he was making in public.
Many of President Trump's White House staff also recognized that the evidence did not support the claims President Trump was making.
This is the President's daughter commenting on Bill Barr's statement that the department found no fraud sufficient to overturn the election.
How did that affect your perspective about the election when Attorney General Barr made that statement?
It affected my perspective.
I respect Attorney General Barr.
So I accepted what he was saying.
As you will hear on Monday, the president had every right to litigate his campaign claims, but he ultimately lost more than 60 cases in state and federal courts.
The president's claims in the election cases were so frivolous and unsupported that the president's lead lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, not only lost the lawsuits, his license to practice law was suspended.
Here is what the court said of Mr. Giuliani.
"Giuliani communicated demonstrably false and misleading statements to courts, lawmakers and the public at large in his capacity as lawyer for former President Donald J. Trump and the Trump campaign in connection with Trump's failed effort at reelection in 2020."
As you will see in great detail in our hearings, President Trump ignored the rulings of our nation's courts.
He ignored his own campaign leadership, his White House staff, many Republican state officials.
He ignored the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security.
President Trump invested millions of dollars of campaign funds, purposely spreading false information, running ads he knew were false, and convincing millions of Americans that the election was corrupt and that he was the true president.
As you will see, this misinformation campaign provoked the violence on January 6th.
In our third hearing, you will see that President Trump corruptly planned to replace the attorney general of the United States, so the U.S. Justice Department would spread his false stolen election claims.
In the days before January 6th.
President Trump told his top Justice Department officials, quote, "Just say the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the Republican congressmen."
Senior Justice Department officials, men he had appointed, told him they could not do that because it was not true.
So President Trump decided to replace them.
He offered Jeff Clark, an environmental lawyer at the Justice Department, the job of acting attorney general.
President Trump wanted Mr. Clark to take a number of steps, including sending this letter to Georgia and five other states, saying the U.S. Department of Justice had, quote, "identified significant concerns that may have impacted the outcome of the election."
This letter is a lie.
The Department of Justice had, in fact, repeatedly told President Trump exactly the opposite, that they had investigated his stolen election allegations and found no credible fraud that could impact the outcome of the election.
This letter and others like it would have urged multiple states to withdraw their official and lawful electoral votes for Biden.
Acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue described Jeff Clark's letter this way.
Quote, "This would be a grave step for the department to take and could have tremendous constitutional, political and social ramifications for this country."
The committee agrees with Mr. Donoghue's assessment.
Had Clarke assumed the role of Attorney General in the days before January 6th and issued these letters, the ramifications could indeed have been grave.
Mr. Donoghue also said this about Clark's plan.
And then I recall toward the end saying what you're proposing is nothing less than the United States Justice Department meddling in the outcome of a presidential election.
In our hearings, you will hear firsthand how the senior leadership of the Department of Justice threatened to resign, how the White House counsel threatened to resign, and how they confronted Donald Trump and Jeff Clarke in the Oval Office.
The men involved, including Acting Attorney General Jeff Rosen and Acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue, were appointed by President Trump.
These men honored their oaths of office.
They did their duty.
And you will hear from them in our hearings.
By contrast, Jeff Clark has invoked his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination and refused to testify.
Representative Scott Perry, who was also involved in trying to get Clark appointed as attorney general, has refused to testify here.
As you will see, Representative Perry contacted the White House in the weeks after January 6th to seek a presidential pardon.
Multiple other Republican congressmen also sought presidential pardons for their roles in attempting to overturn the 2020 election.
In our fourth hearing, we will focus on President Trump's efforts to pressure Vice President Mike Pence to refuse to count electoral votes on January 6th.
Vice President Pence has spoken publicly about this.
President Trump is wrong.
I had no right to overturn the election.
The presidency belongs to the American people and the American people alone.
And frankly, there is no idea more un-American than the notion that any one person could choose the American president.
What President Trump demanded that Mike Pence do wasn't just wrong.
It was illegal and it was unconstitutional.
You will hear this in great detail from the vice president's former general counsel.
Witnesses in these hearings will explain how the former vice president and his staff informed President Trump over and over again that what he was pressuring Mike Pence to do was illegal.
As you will hear, President Trump engaged in a relentless effort to pressure Pence both in private and in public.
You will see the evidence of that pressure from multiple witnesses live and on video.
Vice President Pence demonstrated his loyalty to Donald Trump consistently over four years, but he knew that he had a higher duty to the United States Constitution.
This is testimony from the vice president's chief of staff.
So I think the vice president was proud of his four years of service, and he felt like much had been accomplished in his four years.
And I think he was proud to have stood beside the president for all that has been done.
But I think he ultimately knew that his fidelity, the Constitution, was his first and foremost oath.
And that's what he articulated publicly, and I think that that's what he felt.
His fidelity to the Constitution was more important than his fidelity to President Trump.
The oath he took.
You'll also hear about a lawyer named John Eastman.
Mr. Eastman was deeply involved in President Trump's plans.
You'll hear from former Fourth Circuit federal judge Michael Luttig, a highly respected leading conservative judge.
John Eastman clerked for Judge Luttig.
Judge Luttig provided counsel to the vice president's team in the days before January 6th.
The judge will explain how Eastman, quote, was wrong at every turn.
And you will see the email exchanges between Eastman and the vice president's counsel as the violent attack on Congress was underway.
Mr. Jacob said this to Mr. Eastman.
"Thanks to your bullshit, we are under siege."
You will also see evidence that John Eastman did not actually believe the legal position he was taking.
In fact, a month before the 2020 election, Eastman took exactly the opposite view on the same legal issues.
In the course of the Select Committee's work to obtain information from Mr. Eastman, we have had occasion to present evidence to a federal judge.
The judge evaluated the facts, and he reached the conclusion that President Trump's efforts to pressure Vice President Pence to act illegally by refusing to count electoral votes likely violated two federal criminal statutes.
And the judge also said this: "If Dr. Eastman and President Trump's plan had worked, it would have permanently ended the peaceful transition of power, undermining American democracy and the Constitution.
If the country does not commit to investigating and pursuing accountability for those responsible, the court fears January 6th will repeat itself."
Every American should read what this federal judge has written.
The same judge, judge Carter, issued another decision on Tuesday night just this week, indicating that John Eastman and other Trump lawyers knew that their legal arguments had no real chance of success in court.
But they relied on those arguments anyway to try to, quote, "overturn a democratic election."
And you will hear that while Congress was under attack on January 6th and the hours following the violence, the Trump legal team in the Willard Hotel War Room continued to work to halt the count of electoral votes.
In our fifth hearing, you will see evidence that President Trump corruptly pressured state legislators and election officials to change election results.
You will hear additional details about President Trump's call to Georgia officials urging them to, quote, "find 11,780 votes," votes that did not exist and his efforts to get states to rescind certified electoral slates without factual basis and contrary to law.
You will hear new details about the Trump campaign and other Trump associates' efforts to instruct Republican officials in multiple states to create intentionally false electoral slates and transmit those slates to Congress, to the Vice President and the National Archives falsely certifying that Trump won states he actually lost.
In our final two June hearings, you will hear how President Trump summoned a violent mob and directed them illegally to march on the United States Capitol.
While the violence was underway, President Trump failed to take immediate action to stop the violence and instruct his supporters to leave the capital.
As we present these initial findings, keep two points in mind.
First, our investigation is still ongoing.
So what we make public here will not be the complete set of information we will ultimately disclose.
And second, the Department of Justice is currently working with cooperating witnesses and has disclosed to date only some of the information it has identified from encrypted communications and other sources.
On December 18th, 2020, a group including General Michael Flynn, Sidney Powell, Rudy Giuliani and others visited the White House.
They stayed late into the evening.
We know that the group discussed a number of dramatic steps, including having the military seize voting machines and potentially rerun elections.
You will also hear that President Trump met with that group alone for a period of time before White House lawyers and other staff discovered the group was there and rushed to intervene.
A little more than an hour after Ms. Powell, Mr. Giuliani, General Flynn and the others finally left the White House, President Trump sent the tweet on the screen now telling people to come to Washington on January 6.
Be there, he instructed them, will be wild.
As you will see, this was a pivotal moment.
This tweet initiated a chain of events.
The tweet led to the planning for what occurred on January 6th, including by the Proud Boys who ultimately led the invasion of the Capitol and the violence on that day.
The indictment of a group of Proud Boys alleges that they planned, quote, "to oppose by force the authority of the government of the United States."
And according to the Department of Justice, on January 6, 2021, the defendants directed, mobilized and led members of the crowd onto the Capitol grounds and into the Capitol, leading to the dismantling of metal barricades, the destruction of property, the breaching of the Capitol Building, and the assaults on law enforcement.
Although certain former Trump officials have argued that they did not anticipate violence on January 6th, the evidence suggests otherwise.
As you will see in our hearings, the White House was receiving specific reports in the days leading up to January 6th, including during President Trump's Ellipse rally indicating that elements in the crowd were preparing for violence at the Capitol.
And on the evening of January 5th, the president's close adviser, Steve Bannon, said this on his podcast.
All hell is going to break loose tomorrow.
Just understand this.
All hell is going to break loose tomorrow.
As part of our investigation, we will present information about what the White House and other intelligence agencies knew and why the Capitol was not better prepared.
But we will not lose sight of the fact that the Capitol Police did not cause the crowd to attack.
And we will not blame the violence that day, violence provoked by Donald Trump, on the officers who bravely defended all of us.
In our final hearing, you will hear a moment by moment account of the hours long attack from more than half a dozen White House staff, both live in the hearing room and via videotape testimony.
There's no doubt that President Trump was well aware of the violence as it developed.
White House staff urged President Trump to intervene and call off the mob.
Here is a document written while the attack was underway by a member of the White House staff advising what the president needed to say.
Quote, "Anyone who entered the Capitol without proper authority should leave immediately."
This is exactly what his supporters on Capitol Hill and nationwide were urging the president to do.
He would not.
You will hear that leaders on Capitol Hill begged the president for help, including Republican Leader McCarthy, who was, quote, "scared" and called multiple members of President Trump's family after he could not persuade the president himself.
Not only did President Trump refuse to tell the mob to leave the Capitol, he placed no call to any element of the United States government to instruct that the Capitol be defended.
He did not call his Secretary of Defense on January 6th.
He did not talk to his Attorney General.
He did not talk to the Department of Homeland Security.
President Trump gave no order to deploy the National Guard that day, and he made no effort to work with the Department of Justice to coordinate and deploy law enforcement assets.
But Vice President Pence did each of those things.
For example, here is what General Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testified to this committee.
There were two or three calls with Vice President Pence.
He was very animated and he issued very explicit, very direct, unambiguous orders.
There was no question about that.
And he was, and I can give you the exact quotes, I guess, from some of our records somewhere.
But he was very animated, very direct, very firm.
And to Secretary Miller, get the military down here, get the guard down here, put down this situation, etc.
By contrast, here is General Milley's description of his conversation with President Trump's chief of staff, Mark Meadows, on January 6.
He said, we have to kill the narrative that the vice president is making all the decisions.
We need to establish the narrative that, you know, that the president is still in charge and that things are steady or stable or something.
I immediately interpret that as politics, politics, politics, red flag for me personally, no action.
But I remember distinctly.
And you will hear from witnesses how the day played out inside the White House, how multiple White House staff resigned in disgust, and how President Trump would not ask his supporters to leave the Capitol.
It was only after multiple hours of violence that President Trump finally released a video instructing the riotous mob to leave.
And as he did so, he said to them, quote, "We love you and you're very special."
You will also hear that in the immediate aftermath of January 6th, members of the president's family, White House staff and others tried to step in to stabilize the situation.
Quote, "to land the plane" before the presidential transition on January 20th.
You will hear about members of the Trump cabinet discussing the possibility of invoking the 25th Amendment and replacing the president of the United States.
Multiple members of President Trump's own cabinet resigned immediately after January 6th.
One member of the Cabinet suggested that the remaining Cabinet officers needed to take a more active role in running the White House and the administration.
But most emblematic of those days is this exchange of texts between Sean Hannity and former President Trump's press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany.
Sean Hannity wrote in part "Key now, no more crazy people, no more stolen election talk.
Yes, impeachment and 25th Amendment are real.
Many people will quit."
McEnany responded in part, "I love that.
That's the playbook."
The White House staff knew that President Trump was willing to entertain and use conspiracy theories to achieve his ends.
They knew the president needed to be cut off from all of those who had encouraged him.
They knew that President Donald Trump was too dangerous to be left alone, at least until he left office on January 20th.
These are important facts for Congress and the American people to understand fully.
When a president fails to take the steps necessary to preserve our union, or worse, causes a constitutional crisis, we're at a moment of maximum danger for our republic.
Some in the White House took responsible steps to try to prevent January 6th.
Others egged the president on.
Others who could have acted refused to do so.
In this case, the White House counsel was so concerned about potentially lawless activity that he threatened to resign multiple times.
That is exceedingly rare and exceedingly serious.
It requires immediate attention, especially when the entire team threatens to resign.
However, in the Trump White House, it was not exceedingly rare and it was not treated seriously.
This is a clip of Jared Kushner addressing multiple threats by White House Counsel Pat Cipollone and his team of lawyers to resign in the weeks before January 6.
Jared, are you aware of instances where Pat Cipollone threatened to resign?
I kind of, like I said, my interest at that time was on trying to get as many pardons done.
And I know that, you know, he was always, him in the team or always saying, oh, we're going to resign, we're not going to be here if this happens, if that happens.
So I kind of took it up to just be whining, to be honest with you.
There's a reason why people serving in our government take an oath to the Constitution.
As our founding fathers recognized, democracy is fragile.
People in positions of public trust are duty bound to defend it, to step forward when action is required.
In our country, we don't swear an oath to an individual or a political party.
We take our oath to defend the United States Constitution, and that oath must mean something.
Tonight I say this to my Republican colleagues who are defending the indefensible.
There will come a day when Donald Trump is gone, but your dishonor will remain.
Finally, I ask all of our fellow Americans, as you watch our hearings over the coming weeks, please remember what's at stake.
Remember the men and women who have fought and died so that we can live under the rule of law, not the rule of men.
I ask you to think of the scene in our Capitol Rotunda on the night of January 6th.
There in a sacred space in our constitutional republic, the place where our presidents lie in state, watched over by statues of Washington and Jefferson, Lincoln and Grant, Eisenhower, Ford and Reagan, against every wall that night encircling the room, there were SWAT teams, men and women in tactical gear with long guns deployed inside our Capitol building.
There in the rotunda these brave men and women rested beneath paintings depicting the earliest scenes of our republic, including one painted in 1824 depicting George Washington resigning his commission, voluntarily relinquishing power, handing control of the Continental Army back to Congress.
With this noble act, Washington set the indispensable example of the peaceful transfer of power, what President Reagan called nothing less than a miracle.
The sacred obligation to defend this peaceful transfer of power has been honored by every American president except one.
As Americans, we all have a duty to ensure that what happened on January 6th never happens again.
To set aside partisan battles, to stand together, to perpetuate and preserve our great republic.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
As we provide answers to the American people about January 6th, it's important that we remember exactly what took place, that this was no tourists visit to the capital.
Most of the footage we are about to play has never been seen.
The Select Committee obtained it as a part of our investigation.
This isn't easy to watch.
I want to warn everyone that this video includes violence and strong language without objection.
I include in the record a video presentation of the violence of January 6.
Yes so you're aware be advised there's probably about 300 Proud Boys, they're marching eastbound in this 400 block of kind of independence actually on the Mall towards the United States Capitol.
I am not allowed to say what's going to happen today, because everyone's just going to have to watch for themselves.
But it's going to happen.
Something's going to happen.
We are on your side don't make us go against you.
Pick a side.
These are our streets.
I hope Mike is going to do the right thing.
I hope so.
I hope so.
Because if Mike Pence does the right thing, we win the election.
All Vice President Pence has to do is send it back to the states to recertify.
And we become president.
And you are the happiest people.
Mike Pence is going to have to come through for us.
And if he doesn't, that will be a sad day for our country.
Because you'll never take back our country with weakness.
You have to show strength.
And you have to be strong.
Cruiser 50 it does look like we're going to have an ad hoc march stepping off here.
There's a crowd surge heading east.
We love Trump.
We love Trump.
Mike Pence, I hope you're going to stand up for the good of our Constitution and for the good of our country.
And if you're not, I'm going to be very disappointed in you.
I will tell you right now.
We just had protesters breach the line.
We need back up.
Madam Speaker, the Vice President and the United States Senate.
We're going to give prior warning.
We're going to give prior warning.
We're going to try to get compliance.
But this is now effectively a riot.
49 Hours, declaring it a riot.
Be advised, they're trying to breach and get to the capital.
Hold the line.
We're trying to make our way through all this.
We have a breach of the Capitol.
Breach of the Capitol for the upper level.
Be advised they're requesting additional resources on the east side as they've broken into that window and they're trying to kick it in.
Without objection, the chair declares the House in recess pursuant to clause 12 B of Rule 1.
Mike Pence didn't have the courage to do what should been done to protect our country and our Constitution, giving states a chance to certify a corrected set of facts not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify.
The U.S. demands the truth.
Bring out Pence.
Hang Mike Pence.
We can't hold this, we're going to get too many fucking people here.
Look at this fucking bannister.
We need an area for the House members.
They all walking over now through the tunnel.
We're trying to hold the upper deck.
We're trying to hold the upper deck now.
We need to hold the doors of the Capitol.
I need more support.
All PD get back.
All PD get back to the Upper Deck ASAP.
Be advised that Capitol Police is going to start moving their resources inside to support officers first.
With four members, the door's barricaded.
There's people flooded the hallways outside.
We have no way out.
Is that officers still remaining on the House floor and on the third floor to use the subways themselves?
It's time to evacuate.
So we have security members on the other side.
It's up to us people now, the American people.
We're ready to do it.
One more time.
I'll tell you.
Ready to do whatever it takes.
I'll lay my life down if it takes.
That's why we showed up today.
Bring her out.
Bring her out here.
We're coming in if you don't bring her out.
You back up.
They were peaceful people.
These were great people.
The crowd was unbelievable.
And I mentioned the word love, the love, the love in the air.
I've never seen anything like it.
Pursuant to the order of the Committee of tonight, the chair declares the committee in recess for a period of approximately 10 minutes.
And we've been watching absolutely stunning video of the mob attacking the Capitol building, beating police.
These are some of this video we have seen, but so much of it we have not.
And all that preceded by remarkable uh statement, opening statements by Liz Cheney, one of the two Republicans on this House January 6 select committee followed.
She followed the committee chair, Bennie Thompson, congressman from Mississippi simply a hold your breath.
Hour we have just spent listening to the testimony, the statements from the chair, Bennie Thompson, and from the ranking Republican Liz Cheney.
And then watching that video, which I am sure many of you have just been watching very hard to stomach.
And as the committee takes, as you heard Chairman Thompson say, just a short break.
Joining me at the table here at the NewsHour to help analyze all this, Mary McCord, who served as the acting assistant attorney general for national security from 2016 to 2017.
She now leads the Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection with her.
Paul Rosenzweig, a cybersecurity consultant who previously served as deputy assistant secretary for policy at the Department of Homeland Security and as senior counsel on the Whitewater investigation.
That was back during President Clinton.
And finally, Donell Harvin, former head of homeland security and intelligence for the District of Columbia.
He is now a senior policy researcher with the RAND Corporation.
Danielle Harmon, I'm going to start with you because we spoke with you on the NewsHour just a short time ago, just a few hours ago, and you were reminding us that you had evidence, you had saw warnings in the days leading up to this assault on the Capitol that this might happen.
This so this was not entirely a surprise to you.
But we didn't think it would unfold in the type of violence that we saw on that day.
We knew that there were groups who were coming, some of which may be armed, many of which who had bad intentions um to try to enter the capital that were sharing plans to enter the capital.
They were communicating even down to minute details, such as handheld radio frequencies.
But the fact that they were able to effectively use a very worked up, riled up crowd um uh effectively as a force multiplier, is something that I don't think any of us could have predicted.
What did you see just now in that?
That's what I wanted to know.
And watching this and someone with you are trained.
What did you see in the way this mob formed itself and then moved in on the capital?
What we heard from members of The Proud Boys and these other groups about what they were doing there that day.
They projected all this online before they even got there on January 6.
We knew the Proud Boys, the Proud Boys had said that they were not going to be wearing their traditional colors.
We knew that they were going to be wearing certain color hats as demarcation areas were using certain flags as rally points.
Uh and as the day unfolded, they were using military style tactics, stacking freelance maneuvers, flanking maneuvers.
So there was a small group of very highly trained, highly organized individuals that once again used the mob uh effectively as a force multiplier.
And so the video we just saw really justifies a lot of the intelligence that we collected and shared in the days leading up to January 6, but certainly contextualizes uh what unfolded on that day as well.
And that, again, what that video that we've been watching, just stomach churning to watch most of it.
Uh I think we're still absorbing, absorbing what we've looked at, because even though some of this video was released, some of it we've seen, but so much of it we haven't and certainly not in this kind of vivid detail.
I want to bring in Mary McCord now, uh who has done a lot of work looking at these groups.
But I also, Mary, I mean, this this in a way, is overshadowing what we heard prior to this, which was Congresswoman Liz Cheney of Wyoming, who has been one of the only Republicans to stand against her party and to denounce what's going on.
And it chapter and verse, she put together a narrative uh that is going to be a damning portrayal of President Trump's role in organizing all this.
This really was an opening statement, much like you would expect in a trial.
I mean, I was a prosecutor for 20 years and she went through, you know, all of the efforts, the multi-step efforts to carry out.
And she used this word, a coup.
So starting with, you know, the fact that Donald Trump knew was told by his own advisers that he he there was no evidence of fraud.
The effort to co-opt the Department of Justice and and including replacing those who disagreed with him, with those who would carry out his his duty, the intimidation of Mike Pence.
The fraudulent elector scheme.
And finally summoning the mob.
And she really set the stage for what the Americans are going to see in the coming days, I think.
I think really trying to get people to say, I want to watch this.
I'm tired of being told what to think.
I want to see the evidence for myself and make my own decisions.
Paul Rosenzweig, as somebody who's been involved in organizing this kind of investigation here in Washington.
What stands out from this present?
How strong a presentation did you hear?
I think it was exceedingly powerful.
I think what what stands out to me, the arc of the story, we sort of knew already.
What stands out to me was the way in which Congresswoman Cheney weaved in details, previously unknown details that lend power and credence to the story in ways that ought to at least break through to the American people that Bill Barr called the allegations of of election fraud.
Am I allowed to say the word, quote, bullshit and that Ivanka Trump accepted Bill Barr's uh uh that that five that multiple Republican congressmen sought pardons?
I mean, that's going to be the headline tomorrow.
But really, what's amazing is that.
Multiple Republican congressmen thought they needed.
Pardons, that breakthrough or maybe it will.
Break because of because of their their involvement.
Or Lisa de Jordan, who's been in the the hearing room, is joining us now at the Capitol, along with Jeff Bennett at the White House.
Lisa, I do want to quickly come to you.
I have to say, we're all sitting here, uh just taken, trying to take all this in and absorb it.
A lot of it is new information.
And I think that in the hearing room, you could certainly see reporters very quickly taking a lot of notes.
They were laying out, I think, as Mary McCord said, almost a trial like case against the former president.
It struck me almost as sort of a different form of impeachment.
It is not an impeachment proceeding, but they are making a case that this is a president who acted unlawfully and was at the center, as they say, of a conspiracy.
I think I have to also tell you about the atmosphere in the room a little bit as that long clip I think were 12 minute long video.
The last of the clips that they played uh was airing.
I noticed in the back of the room, that's where there's about a little bit more than a dozen, almost maybe 18 members of Congress, all Democrats I saw back there, many of them are members who I know were in the chamber on January 6.
I was watching them and as that video went on, they were giving each other sort of steely eyed glances.
You could tell that they were feeling emotional, but telling each other, kind of giving each other silent support.
And I saw one member of a freshman member shaking, rocking back and forth, trying not to go to tears.
It was a very emotional moment, I think, especially for those members of Congress who were in there.
One going in said, I have to be here because I still don't have closure on that day yet.
And you're feeling that in the room?
No, no, no surprise.
Geoff Bennett at the White House.
I want to come to you for what is left of this break.
We know President Biden is not in Washington tonight.
He's been in California presiding over as the host of the Summit of the Americas, meeting with other leaders from the Western Hemisphere.
But how closely is the White House following all this?
How much stock do they put in?
What's going on?
Well, I'm told I'm told the White House Department of Legislative Affairs has been in close coordination and close touch with the the House speaker's office and also with leadership of the committee itself.
But President Biden, I'm told, has kept a respectful distance from this committee and their work product, and that was intentional.
In large part, uh the view from the White House is that for President Biden to offer some sort of running commentary about the many revelations about this committee's work that have come out mainly through reporting that that would in many ways make this a partizan enterprise.
And this White House has also been very careful about not trying to be seen influencing or trying to pressure the Department of Justice or the attorney general as they make their own determination about what cases to bring and when.
I think it was particularly interesting to hear a Congresswoman, Liz Cheney, to make note of the fact that there are cooperating witnesses who are working with the Department of Justice, which suggests that there's more to come on that front Judy.
Geoff Bennett at the White House.
And Geofff, we'll be coming back to you a little later when this hearing ends, which we think will take place within the hour.
It looks like Chairman Bennie Thompson is back in his chair.
And we want to go back to the committee as soon as they resume.
They said that on this first night, they plan to go somewhere between 90 minutes or so.
Let's go right now to chair Bennie Thompson.
Committee will be in order.
I want to thank our witnesses for being with us this evening to share their firsthand accounts of that terrible day.
I know that some of the witnesses from our first hearing in the room with us, along with some of the family members, friends and widows of the officers who lost their lives as a result of the attack.
Thank you all for being here for us and the American people.
Officer Carolyn Edwards has been with the United States Capitol Police since 2017.
On January 6th, Officer Edwards was assigned to the first responder unit, which serves as the first line of defense at the Capitol complex.
She also served as a member of the Civil Disturbance Unit, a special subset of the uniformed division trained to respond to mass demonstration events.
Officer Edwards is a graduate of the University of Georgia and currently is working on a master's degree in intelligence analysis from Johns Hopkins University.
Nick Quested is an acclaimed filmmaker who credits include documenting stories from war zones in Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq.
On January 6th, Mr. Quested was working on a documentary about, quote, why Americans are so divided when Americans have so much in common.
During that day, Mr. Quested interviewed and documented movements of the people around the capital, including the first moments of the violence against the Capitol Police and the chaos that ensued.
I will now swearing in witnesses.
The witnesses will please stand and raise your right hand.
Do you swear and affirm on the penalty of perjury that the testimony you're about to give is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God.
Let the record reflect the witnesses answered in the affirmative.
Without objection, the witness statement will be included in the record.
Pursuant to Section 5c8 of House Resolution 503.
I recognize myself for questioning.
As you saw just a few minutes ago, the Proud Boys instigated the first breach of the Capitol just before 1:00 PM, where rioters pushed over barricades near the peace circle at the foot of the capital.
Our two witnesses tonight were both there at the time of that first breach.
Officer Edwards was standing with other officers behind a line of bike racks that marked the perimeter of the Capitol grounds.
She bravely tried to prevent an angry crowd from advancing on the Capitol.
Unfortunately, she was overrun and knocked unconscious as the crowd advanced on the Capitol.
Mr. Quested was a few yards away from Officer Edwards taking footage of the Proud Boys as part of his work on a documentary film.
Most of his footage has never been shown publicly before we shared it this evening.
Of Officer Edwards.
I'd like to start by asking if you could tell us why you believe it's important for you to share your story this evening with the committee and the American public.
Well, thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I really appreciate it.
And thank you to the committee for having me here to testify.
Um I was called a lot of things on January 6, 2021, in the days thereafter.
I was called Nancy Pelosi's dog, called incompetent, called a hero and a villain.
I was called a traitor to my country, my oath and my constitution.
In actuality, I was none of those things.
I was an American standing face to face with other Americans, asking myself, how many times, many, many times how we had gotten here.
I had been called names before, but never had my patriotism or duty been called into question.
I who got up every day, no matter how early the hour or how late I got in the night before to put on my uniform and to protect America's symbol of democracy.
I, who spent countless hours in the baking sun and freezing snow to make sure that America's elected officials were able to do their job.
I lose literal blood, sweat and tears were shed that day defending the building that I spent countless holidays and weekends working in.
I am the proud granddaughter of a marine that fought in the battle of the chosen reservoir in the Korean War.
I think of my papa often in these days, how he was so young and thrown into a battle he never saw coming and answered the call at a great personal cost.
How he lived the rest of his days with bullets and shrapnel in his legs, but never once complained about his sacrifice.
I would like to think that he would be proud of me.
Proud of his granddaughter that stood her ground that day and continued fighting even though she was wounded like he did many years ago.
I am my grandfather's granddaughter.
Proud to put on a uniform and serve my country.
They dared to question my honor.
They dared to question my loyalty.
And they dared to question my duty.
I'm a proud American, and I will gladly sacrifice everything to make sure that the America my grandfather defended is here for many years to come.
Officer Edwards, your story.
And your service is important.
And I thank you for being here tonight.
Mr. Quested, I'd also like to ask you to introduce yourself.
Can you tell us how you found yourself in Washington, D.C. on January 6th, 2021?
Good evening Chair and Madam Vice Chair.
Thank you for the introduction.
Um as stated in the winter of 2020, I was working on a documentary as part of that documentary, a film several rallies in Washington, D.C. on December 11th and December the 12th, and I learned there will be a rally on the Mall and on January 6.
So my 3 colleagues and I came down to document the rally.
According to the permit, the event there was going to be a rally at the Ellipse.
We arrived at the mall and observed a large contingent of proud boys marching towards the Capitol.
We filmed them and almost immediately I was separated from my colleagues.
I documented the crowd turn from protesters to rioters to insurrectionists.
I was surprised at the size of the group, the anger and the profanity.
And for anyone who didn't understand how violent that event was, I saw it.
I documented it.
And I experienced it.
I heard incredibly aggressive chanting, and I shared subsequently shared that footage with the authorities.
I'm here today pursuant to a House subpoena.
Thank you so much.
Thank you, Mr. Quested.
The Select Committee has conducted extensive investigative work to understand what led the proud boys and of the rioters to the Capitol on January 6.
We've obtained substantial evidence showing that the president's December 19th tweet calling his followers to Washington, D.C. on January 6 energized individuals from the proud boys and other extremist groups.
I'd like to play a brief video highlighting some of this evidence.
My name is Marcus Childress, and I'm an investigative counsel for the Select Committee to investigate the January 6 attack on the United States Capitol.
What do you want to call them?
Give me a name.
Give me a nice surprise.
That's unlikely to contain voices and write problems on my face.
Stand back and stand by.
After he made this comment, Enrique Tarrio, then chairman of The Proud Boys, set on Parler, standing by, sir.
During our investigation, we learned that this comment during a presidential debate actually led to an increase in membership from the Proud Boys.
Would you say that Proud Boys numbers increased after the stand back, stand by comment?
Exponentially, I'd say tripled, probably with the potential for a lot more eventually.
And did you ever sell any stand back and stand by merchandise.
Uh one of the vendors on my page actually beat me to it.
But I wish I would have.
I wish I would have made a stand back, sell my shirt.
On December 19th, President Trump tweeted about the January six rally and told attendees, Be there will be wild.
Many of the witnesses that we interviewed were inspired by the president's call and came to DC for January 6.
But the extremists, they took it a step further.
They viewed this tweet as a call to arms.
A day later, the Department of Justice describes how the Proud Boys created a chat called the Ministry of Self-defense Leadership Chat.
In this chat, the Proud Boys established a command structure in anticipation of coming back to DC on January 6.
The Department of Justice describes Mr. Tarrio coming into possession of a document called the 1776 Returns, which describes individuals occupying key buildings around the United States Capitol.
The Oath Keepers are another group that the committee investigated.
You better get your ass to DC folks this Saturday.
If you don't, there's there'll be no more republic.
But recall if that happened, it's not even if it's either.
President Trump has encouraged and bolstered, strengthened to do what he must do, or we wound up in a bloody fight.
We all know that the fights coming.
The Oath Keepers began planning to block the peaceful transfer of power shortly after the November 3rd election.
And according to the Department of Justice, Stewart Rhodes, the Oath Keepers leader, said to his followers that we were not going to get through this without a civil war.
In response to the December 19th, 2020 tweet by President Trump, the Oath Keepers focus on January 6 in Washington, D.C.
In response to the tweet, one member, the president of the Florida chapter, put on social media.
The president called us to the Capitol.
He wants us to make it wild.
The goal was for the Oath Keepers to be called to duty so that they could keep the president in power.
Although President Trump had just lost the election, the committee learned that the Oath Keepers set up quick reaction forces outside of the city and Virginia, where they stored arms.
The goal of these quick reaction forces was to be on standby just in case President Trump invoked the Insurrection Act.
Did the keepers ever provide weapons to members?
I'm going to climb to answer that if that's grounds for and due process trials.
In footage obtained by the committee, we learned that on the night of January 5th, Enrique Tarrio and Stewart Rhodes met in a parking garage in Washington, D.C.
There's mutual respect there.
I think we're.
We're fighting the same fight, and I think that's what's important.
The committee learned that the Oath Keepers went into the Capitol to the east doors and to stark formations.
The DOJ alleges that one of the stacks went into the Capitol looking for Speaker Pelosi, although they never found her.
As the attack was unfolding, Mr. Tarrio took credit and documents obtained by the Department of Justice.
Mr. Tarrio said in an encrypted chat.
Make no mistake.
And we did this.
Later on that evening, Mr. Tarrio even posted a video which seemed to resemble him in front of the Capitol with a black cape.
In the title of the video was Premonition.
The evidence developed by the Select Committee and the Department of Justice highlights how each group participated on the attack on the Capitol on January 6.
In fact, the investigation revealed that it was individuals associated with the proud boys who instigated the initial breach at the peace circle.
At 12:53 p.m..
Within 10 minutes, rioters had already filled the Lower West Plaza.
By 2:00, rioters had reached the doors on the West and the East Plaza.
And by 2:13, rioters had actually broken through the Senate wing door and got into the Capitol building.
A series of breaches followed at 2:25 p.m.. Rioters breached the East Side doors to the rotunda.
And then right after 2:40 p.m. Rioters breached the east side doors near the Ways and Means entrance.
Once the rioters infiltrated the Capitol, they moved to the crypt, the Rotunda, the hallways leading to the house chambers, and even inside the Senate chambers.
Individuals associated with two violent extremist groups have been charged with seditious conspiracy in connection with the January 6 attack.
One is the Oath Keepers, they are a group of armed antigovernment extremists.
The other group is The Proud Boys, they promote white supremacist beliefs and have engaged in violence with people they view as their political enemies.
Members of both groups have already pleaded guilty to crimes associated with the January 6 attack.
Mr. Quested, as part of the documentary you've been filming, you gain access to the Proud Boys and their leader, Enrique Tarrio.
Your crew filmed them in Washington, D.C. on the evening of January 5th, and then on January 6th, on January 5th, the night before the attack.
You were with the head of the Proud Boys, Mr. Tarrio in Washington, D.C. What happened?
We picked up Mr. Tarrio from jail.
Uh he'd uh been arrested for carrying some magazines, uh some uh long, some extra capacity magazines, and uh for the he took responsibility for the burning of the Black Lives Matter flag that was stolen from the church on December the 12th.
We were attempting to get an interview with Mr. Tarrio.
We had no idea of any of the events that were going to subsequently happen.
We drove him to pick up his bags from the property department of the police, which is just south of the mall.
Uh we picked up his bags and went to get some other bags from the Phoenix Hotel.
Uh we um encountered Mr. Stewart Rhodes uh from the Oath Keepers.
Um by the time I had gone to park the car, my colleague was saying, who'd got into the car with Mr. Tarrio that they had moved to a uh location around the corner, the parking garage of the uh Hall of Legends, I believe.
And um so we quickly drove over there.
We drove down into the parking garage and filmed the scene of Mr. Tarrio and Mr. Rhodes and uh certain other individuals um uh in that garage.
Um we then continued to follow Mr. Tarrio.
There was some discussion about where he was going to go, he ended up going towards a hotel in Baltimore, and we conducted an interview with him in the hotel room um and then we returned to D.C. for that night and uh and a what was interesting that night actually was that was the first indication that D.C. was much more um busy than it had been any other time we'd been here because we couldn't get into the hotels we wanted to.
And we um ended up at a hotel that was not as satisfactory as we would hoped.
So what you're saying is you filmed the meeting between Mr. Tarrio and Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes, right?
You couldn't hear what was said.
But according to the Justice Department and statement of Mr. Torrio, a participant referenced the Capitol.
Now, on the morning of January 6th, you learned the proud boys would gather near the rally scheduled to take place near the White House.
What time did you meet up with the proud boys and what was happening when they met?
Um we met up with the Proud Boys uh somewhere around 10:30 a.m., and they were starting to walk down the mall uh easterly direction towards the Capitol.
Um there was a large contingent more than I had expected, and I was confused to a certain extent why we were walking away from the president's speech, because that's what um I felt we were there to cover.
So at 10:30 a.m., uh that's early in the day that's even before President Trump had started speaking.
Am I correct?
So how many proud boys would you estimate were marching together to the Capitol?
A couple of hundred.
I say a couple of hundred proud boys were marching towards the Capitol at that point.
At the time, was the area heavily guarded?
No, that was uh I remember we walked past the we walked down the mall, we walked to the right of the reflecting pool and then north along the road, that leads to the peace circle.
And as we were walking past the peace circle, I framed the proud boys to the right of my shot with the Capitol behind.
And we see one sole police officer um at the barriers, which was subsequently breached.
We then walk up and past a um tactical unit preparing and there's you see that in the film where the man questions their duty and their honor and you see maybe a dozen um uh Capitol police um putting on their riot gear.
So, how would you describe the atmosphere at that that time?
The atmosphere was, it seemed to be much darker I make efforts to create um a familiarity between myself and my subjects to make them feel comfortable.
And um the atmosphere was much darker at this day than than had been in these other in these other in these other days.
And there was also a contingent of proud boys that I hadn't met before from Arizona who appeared to wear these orange hats um and had orange armbands.
So when the proud boys went back down the hill to the peace circle, did a larger crowd start together?
First of all, we went round to the back and down the steps and we took some photographs on the east side of the Capitol.
And then we went for lunch, we went for tacos.
So, Mr. Quested, you are journalist.
So you are careful to stick to things that you have observed.
But what you've told us is highly relevant.
Let me highlight a few key facts that you and others have provided the committee.
First there was a large group of proud boys present at the Capitol.
We know that from multiple sources.
You now estimate that there were around 250 uh to 300 individuals that you've testified.
They weren't there for President Trump's speech.
We know this because they left that area to march toward the Capitol before the speech began.
They walked around the Capitol that morning.
I'm concerned this allowed them to see what defenses were in place and where weaknesses might be.
And they decided to launch their attack at the Peace Circle, which is a front door of the Capitol complex, is the first security perimeter that those marching from the Ellipse would have to come to as they move toward the Capitol, the Peace Circle walk away was walk way was always where the thousands of angry Trump supporters would arrive after President Trump sent them from the Ellipse.
The proud boys timed their attack to the moments before the start of the joint session in the Capitol, which is also where President Trump directed the angry mob.
Quote, We fight like hell.
He told them before sending them down Pennsylvania Avenue right to where the proud boys gather and where you a filming.
Now, a central question is whether the attack on the Capitol was coordinated and planned.
What you witnessed is what a coordinated and planned effort would look like.
It was the culmination of a months long effort spearheaded by President Trump.
Mr. Quested, thank you for your eyewitness account of the lead up to the breach of the Peace Circle.
This brings us to a point in time where you and Officer Edwards were in close proximity at this point.
I reserve the balance of my time pursuant to five C, Section 8 of House Resolution 503.
The chair recognizes that gentlewoman from Wyoming, Ms. Cheney, for questioning.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Officer Edwards, I want to start by thanking you for your service, and thank you for your courage.
Thank you for being here this evening.
I know that it's not easy to relive what happened for you and for the officers behind you and for the family members of officers in the audience this evening.
Um, but it's really important for the country to have a full accounting and understand what happened.
I want to start Officer Edwards with a short clip that um shows the horrible moment when you were injured as the Peace Circle was breached.
Officer Edwards, can you describe the crowd that had assembled at the Peace Circle is, as you and your fellow officers uh stood behind and guarded the bike racks at the Peace Circle.
So um there were about I want to say about five of us on that line.
And there were.
So there was our bike rack.
And then at the bottom of the Pennsylvania Avenue walkway of Right by Peace Circle, there was another bike rack.
And so the crowd had kind of gathered there.
Um it was the crowd led by um Joseph Biggs.
And they were mostly in civilian clothes.
There were some who had military fatigues on uh we could see people with bulletproof vests on, you know, things like that um they didn't seem, you know, extremely cohesive, but they had gathered there in their outfits, but they had gathered there together.
And Joseph Biggs started he had a mic or a megaphone and he started talking about, you know, first it was things kind of relating to Congress.
And then the tables started turning once the um what is now that the Arizona group is way you said the crowd with orange hats they came up chanting f- u -c -k antifa and they joined that group.
And once they joined that group.
Joseph Biggs rhetoric turned to the Capitol Police.
He started asking us questions like you you didn't miss a paycheck during the pandemic, um mentioning stuff about our pay scale was mentioned.
And you started turning the tables on us and I've worked, I can conservatively say probably hundreds of civil disturbance events.
I know when I'm being turned into a villain, and that's when I turn to my sergeant and I stated the understatement of the century.
I said, Sarge, I think we're going to need a few more people down here.
And so after that you know, I think they started conferring they went a little silen, they started conferring among each other.
I saw the person now identified as Ryan Samsel he put his arm around Joseph Biggs, and they were talking.
And then they started approaching the first barricade, they ripped the first barricade down, and they approached our bike racks.
Um you know, at that time, we started um holding on, grabbing the bike racks.
You know, there weren't many of us so I grabbed um the middle between two different bike racks.
And, you know, I wasn't under any pretense that I could hold it for very long, but I just wanted to, you know, make sure that we could get more people down and get our CDU units time to to answer the call.
So we started grappling over the bike racks.
Um I felt the bike rack come on top of my head.
And I was pushed backwards and my foot caught the stair behind me and I my chin hit the handrail.
And then I at that point I had blacked out, but my um the back of my head clipped the concrete stairs behind me.
And you were knocked unconscious.
Is that right, Officer Edwards?
But then when you regained consciousness, even with the injuries, you returned to duty.
Is that right?
Um you know, at that time, adrenaline kicked in.
I ran towards the west front and I tried to hold the line at the Senate steps at the Lower West Terrace.
Um more people kept coming at, um it just seemed like, you know, more and more people started um, you know, coming on to the west front.
They started overpowering us.
And that was right about when MPDs officers showed up, their bike officers pushed the crowd back and allowed um our CDU units as well as theirs to form that line that you see um that very thin line between us and the protesters or the rioters um you know, at that time, I fell behind that line.
And um for a while I started decontaminating people who had gotten sprayed um and treating people medically who who need it.
And then you were injured again there on the West Terrace.
Is that right, Officer Edwards?
So um after a while, I got back on the line um I got it was on the house side of the Lower West Terrace.
And um I was holding that line for a while there weren't many of us over there, and Officer Sicknick was behind me for most of the time, for about 30 to 45 minutes that I was down there.
Um we were just as the best we could.
We were just, you know, grappling over bike racks and trying to hold them as quick as possible.
Um all of the sudden I see movemen to the left of me and I turned and it was Officer Sicknick with his head in his hands, and he was ghostly pale.
Um which I figured at that point that he had been sprayed and I was um concerned.
My, you know, cop cop alarm bells went off um because if you get sprayed with pepper spray, you're going to turn red.
He turned just about as pale as a sheet of paper.
And so I looked back to see what had hit him, what had happened.
And that's when I got sprayed in the eyes as well.
Um I was taken to be decontaminated by another officer, um but we didn't get the chance because we were then tear gassed.
And um we are going to play just a brief clip of that moment that you've just described officer Edwards.
Officer Edwards, I just want to thank you for being here um and and I know again how difficult it is I know the family of Officer Sicknick as well, who's here tonight.
And one of the things one of the Capitol police officers said to me recently was to ask me whether or not, as members of Congress, all of us understood that on that day, on January six, when we were evacuated from the chamber, we're led to a safe, undisclosed location.
Whether we knew that that so many of you had rushed out of the building and into the fight.
And I can assure you that we do know that and that we understand how important your service is.
Uh thank you for your continued work with our committee and the interviews, and um thank you very much for both of you for being here this evening.
Mr. Chairman, I yield back.
Thank you very much uh Ms. Edwards um can you give us one memory of that awful day that stands out most vividly in your mind.
I can um that time when I talked about falling behind MPDs Line.
I remember because I had been kind of shielded away um because I was holding those stairs, so I wasn't able to really see what was going on over here.
When I fell behind that line.
I can just remember my my breath catching in my throat because what I saw was just a war scene it was something like I had seen out of the movies.
I couldn't believe my eyes.
There were officers on the ground.
You know, they were bleeding.
They were throwing up.
They were you know, they had I mean, I saw friends with blood all over their faces.
I was slipping in people's blood.
Um you know, I was catching people as they fell.
You know, I was.
It was chaos.
I can't even describe what I saw.
Never in my wildest dreams did I think that as a police officer, as a law enforcement officer, I would find myself in the middle of a battle.
You know, I'm trained to detain, you know, a couple of subjects and and handle, you know, handle a crowd.
But I'm not combat trained.
And that day it was just hours of hand-to-hand combat, hours of dealing with things that were way beyond any any a law enforcement officer has ever trained for.
Um and I just remember I just remember that moment of stepping behind the line and just seeing the absolute war zone that the West Front had become.
Let me thank you uh for your service and obviously your bravery that you have told the world about tonight.
It's unfortunate that you had to defend the Capitol from fellow Americans.
None of us would ever think that that would have to happen, but it did.
So let me thank our witnesses for joining us tonight and sharing their experiences with America.
Throughout my chairmanship of this committee, I have continuously vowed that this committee will ensure a comprehensive account of the heroic acts on January 6 and that we will follow the facts wherever they lead.
Your testimony is an essential part of that record and helps us do our job.
Mr. Quested, thank you for sharing your footage and your account of the day's events with us.
The images you recorded and have shared with the committee do a better job than any of our words in reinforcing the violence of January 6.
We hope that the power of your footage help encourage all Americans to consider how citizens with such so much in common could viciously brawl at the seat of their democratic government.
Officer Edward, thank you for your brave service as I indicated on January 6th and all you did to protect us and most importantly, our democracy.
If you and your fellow officers hadn't held the land against those violent insurrectionists, we can only imagine the disaster that would have ensued.
Your heroism at the face of danger is admirable, and your will to continue to protect and serve despite your serious injuries should be an inspiration to all of us.
We wish you a continued recovery and look forward to seeing you back in uniform sometime soon.
The members of the select committee may have additional questions for tonight's witnesses, and we ask that you respond expeditiously in writing to those questions.
Without objection, members will be permitted ten business days to submit statements for the record, including opening remarks and additional questions for the witnesses.
The witness have just told us what they heard the rioters saying why they stormed the Capitol on that day.
Now we're going to hear it from the rioters themselves.
Without objection, I include in the record a video presentation.
We were invited by the President of the United States!
What really made me want to come was the fact that you know, I had supported Trump all that time I did believe, you know, that the election was being stolen um and Trump asked us to come.
He personally asked for us to come to D.C. that day.
And I thought for everything he's done for us, if this was the only thing, he's gonna ask of me.
I'll do it.
We're going to walk down to the Capitol.
President Trump mentioning going to the Capitol during his speech.
So that's one of my disappointments, is that he was going to go go with us, that he was going to be there.
I know why I was there.
And that's because he called me there and he laid out what is happening in our government.
He laid it out.
But I remember Donald Trump telling people to be there.
I mean, to support that.
You mentioned the presence of the president asked you.
Do you remember a specific message?
Basically, he asked for us to come to D.C. that big things are going to happen.
What got me interested, he said, I have something very uh important to say on.
January 6 or something like that, is what got me interested to be there.
You know, Trump is only asked me for two things.
He asked me for my vote and he asked me to come on January 6th.
When the committee reconvenes next week, we're going to examine the lives that convinced those men and others to storm the Capitol to try to stop the transfer of power we're going to take a close look at the first part of Trump's attack on the rule of law when he hit the fuze that ultimately resulted in the violence of January 6th.
Without objection and with with that, the committee stands adjourned.
And with that, Chairman Bennie Thompson wraps up this first night of public hearings of the January 6 committee with some uh absolutely jaw dropping video of uh the storming of the Capitol.
Statements by the extremist groups, members of the proud boys uh of the Oath Keepers.
Joining me now, the analysts who've been watching with us here and our PBS NewsHour live coverage for the entire evening, Mary McCord, Paul Rosenzweig and Donell Harvin.
Mary, I want to come to you first because you follow what these extremist groups do.
What did you see and hear tonight that added to your understanding of what happened?
Well, I saw them carrying out the things that they'd really been planning and thinking about.
You know, Stewart Rhodes, even during the first impeachment, talked about very publicly about hoping the the Donald Trump would call forth the Oath Keepers back then in the event he should be impeached and they would come to his service.
And he's been, you know, wanting to do this all along.
So this gave them that chance to, you know, answer that call and come and come to the Capitol and and try to actually uh halt the counting of the Electoral College vote to try to ensure that Donald Trump remained president.
And Donell Harvin also joining us watching all of this again, you were watching it.
You were the head of homeland security for the District of Columbia.
You were seeing clues leading up to January 6. that this was going to happen.
And now you've seen them execute it in this video.
First of all.
Wow, that was riveting.
The the interesting parts that I picked up really laid out a few things that I think the viewers should take away from this.
One this wasn't just some disorganized group of individuals who are opportunist um this the intelligence supports what we saw on the ground on January 6.
They were planning this for weeks, um and that played out just as they wanted it to.
Uh the other thing is that this wasn't some just a small group of bad apples or or as some elected officials have said, that it was just a normal tour.
These individuals came prepared for war, you heard the officer talk about sustained hours long, hand-to-hand combat, something that they're not trained for and something that we would never see, never think that we would see in the steps of the Capitol.
It was just stunning, jarring, as you said.
Paul Rosenzweig, to you quickly, because we're approaching 10:00 in the east um put it all together tonight.
What does it add up to?
Well, what I think it adds up to is the outlines of an indictment of Donald Trump.
Uh it's not a criminal indictment than an indictment of responsibility.
I think the most effective thing for me was the ending the the members of the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers saying, I came because my leader called me and said, I want you to be there.
And that's something that Trump is going to have to own and I hope it's something that the American people understand was a deliberate action or seems to have been.
And Lisa Desjardins at the Capitol inside the hearing room.
Is it your sense that the committee has gotten this started the way they wanted to tonight?
I think so.
I'm interested to get the reaction of people after this.
But, you know, we know that one of our producers spoke to Pramila Jayapal, the head of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
She she told us she told us that she does think that this is off to a very strong start she almost too soon to say that she doesn't understand how anyone couldn't be affected by what was said in there tonight.
This was a very methodical hearing I wasn't sure how much Hollywood we were going to get in this kind of hearing.
We'd heard a lot about the production value of it, but there's still was a very methodical and kind of slow pace as the committee was leading people through their conclusions.
And one thing that really stood out to me, Judy, was not just this idea that the committee is indicting former President Trump in the court of public opinion here, but you talk about Trump and his role on January 6 is one thing they also said a lot about the idea that the election was stolen building their case, that that was a lie told by President Trump that it was a lie he knew was a lie and that the people around him knew was a lie.
To me that is important because covering the Capitol here every day, that is a piece of modern politics hour by hour that is it's a part of what's happening now in this Capitol.
That still idea, that lie that the election was stolen is very much present.
Many Americans still believe that this was an election that had a large amount of fraud and the community attacking that I thought was significant.
A lie that lives very much in the halls of the Capitol and around the United States.
And finally, just quickly to you, Geoff Bennett at the White House, President Biden in California tonight.
But this administration has to be watching what's going on in these hearings very closely.
And I'm also struck by the degree to which Attorney General Merrick Garland will in many ways really just have to face the immense public pressure that would come from the mountain of evidence that was revealed tonight, and that will come forward in the weeks to come.
We knew coming into this hearing that the committee made the case that what happened on January 6 did not happen in a vacuum, that it was part of a coordinated conspiracy, a criminal conspiracy to take the words of some of the committee members.
What we learned tonight, just from the sort of out laying of evidence, is that President Trump, according to the committee, sat at the very center of it.
It was part of a seven point plot, to use the phrase that we heard from Congresswoman Liz Cheney.
So one wonders that by the time uh we get to the end of these hearings, uh what will come of it.
Very clearly beginning to build the case uh that this committee is trying to make for the American people.
Geoff Bennett at the White House, Lisa Desjardins at the Capitol.
We're joined by our analyst Paul Rosenzweig, Mary McCord and and Donell Harvin.
Thank you all very much for your analysis tonight.
We appreciate it.
And that does conclude our coverage of the first day of public hearings on the January 6 attack.
The next hearing is scheduled for this coming Monday, that's June the 13th.
That will be in the morning, 10 a.m.. We'll have live coverage here on PBS.
We're now going to return you to your regularly scheduled programing in progress for all of us at the NewsHour, I'm Judy Woodruff.
Please stay safe and we'll see you soon.
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