The January 6 hearing promises ‘surprising’ details ahead of the election

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Jan. 6 House committee is set to reveal “surprising” details, including evidence from Donald Trump’s Secret Service about the 2021 attack on the US capital in what will likely be the last public hearing before the midterm elections in November.

The hearing Thursday afternoon, the 10th public session of the panel, is expected to delve into Trump’s “state of mind” and the central role the defeated president played in the multipartisan effort to overturn the election, according to a committee aide who discussed the plans on condition of anonymity.

The committee begins to summarize its findings: After losing the 2020 presidential election, Trump launched an unprecedented effort to prevent Congress from confirming Joe Biden’s victory. The result was the deadly mob siege of the Capitol.

“The mob was led by some extremist groups – they planned in advance what they were going to do,” said Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., a committee member, told CNN. “And these individuals were known to people in the Trump circle.”

Speaker Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., is set to give the gavel in Thursday’s session in an otherwise empty Capitol complex, where most lawmakers at home are fighting for re-election. Several people who were among the thousands around the Capitol on January 6 are now running for Congress, some with Trump’s backing.

The session will serve as a closing argument by the panel’s two Republican lawmakers, Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, who has essentially been rejected by Trump and his party and will not return in the new Congress. Cheney lost his primary and Kinzinger decided not to run.

Another committee member, Rep. Elaine Luria, D-Va., a retired Navy commander, is in a tough re-election bid against state Sen. Jen Kiggans, a former Navy helicopter pilot.

Unlike previous hearings, this one is not expected to include live witnesses, although the panel is expected to share information from its recent interviews – including testimony from Ginni Thomas, the conservative activist and wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. She was in contact with the White House during the run-up to January 6.

Fresh information about the movements of then-Vice President Mike Pence, who presided over a joint session of Congress on Jan. 6 and was rushed to safety, is also expected to be revealed, according to a person familiar with the committee’s planning, who was not authorized to to discuss it publicly and requested anonymity.

The panel has been in talks with the US Secret Service for weeks after issuing a subpoena to produce missing text messages from that day. Former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson described being told by a White House aide about Trump angrily lashing out at the driver of his presidential SUV and demanding to be taken from his rally to the Capitol, when the mob formed on January 6.

Some in the Secret Service have disputed Cassidy’s account of events, but it is unclear whether the missing texts, which the agency has said were erased during a technology upgrade, will ever be recovered. The hearing is expected to reveal new details from a massive trove of documents and other evidence provided by the Secret Service.

The committee plans to show new video footage it received from the Secret Service of the demonstration on the White House Ellipse. Trump spoke there before calling on his armed supporters to march on the Capitol and “fight like hell.”

The hearing will also include new documentaries shot from the day of the attack.

The Secret Service has turned over 1.5 million pages of documents and surveillance video to the committee, according to agency spokesman Anthony Guglielmi.

Lofgren said that when she learned the information presented Thursday, she found it “quite surprising.”

The committee, which has conducted more than 1,500 interviews and obtained countless documents, has made a comprehensive investigation of Trump’s activities from his defeat in the November election to the Capitol attack.

“He’s used this big lie to destabilize our democracy,” said Lofgren, who was a young House staffer during the impeachment trial of Richard Nixon in 1974. “When did that idea come about and what did he know while he was doing it? “

This week’s hearing is expected to be the last investigative presentation from lawmakers before the midterm elections. But staff say the investigation is continuing.

The January 6 Committee has been meeting for more than a year, set up by the House after Republican senators blocked the formation of an outside panel similar to the 9/11 Commission set up after the 2001 terrorist attacks. Even after launching its high-profile public hearings last summer, the committee on January 6 continued gathering evidence and interviews.

Under the committee’s rules, the panel is expected to produce a report on its findings on January 6, which is expected after the election, likely in December. The committee will be dissolved 30 days after the publication of this report and with the new Congress in January.

House Republicans are expected to drop the probe on Jan. 6 and turn to other probes if they win control after the midterm elections, primarily focused on Biden, his family and his administration.

At least five people died in the Jan. 6 attack and its aftermath, including a Trump supporter shot dead by Capitol Police.

Police engaged in often bloody hand-to-hand combat as Trump supporters pushed past barricades, stormed the Capitol and roamed the halls, sending lawmakers fleeing for safety and temporarily disrupting the joint session of Congress that confirmed Biden’s election.

More than 850 people have been charged by the Justice Department in the Capitol attack, some receiving lengthy prison terms for their roles. Several leaders and associates of the extremist Oath Keepers and Proud Boys have been charged with sedition.

Trump faces various state and federal investigations over his actions in the election and its aftermath.

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