Jan. 6 hearings live updates: Panel witness remembers 'carnage' and 'chaos' at the Capitol
U.S. Capitol Police Officer Caroline Edwards, who was injured by rioters storming the Capitol grounds, offered vivid testimony at Thursday's hearing, recalling the violent scene she saw: "It was carnage, it was chaos," and one that she and other officers were not trained for. "That day it was just hours and hours of hand-to-hand combat," she said.
In opening statements, committee members have put former President Donald Trump squarely at the center of a conspiracy over election fraud that led to the deadly riot that day.
Trump earlier that day “spurred a mob of domestic enemies of the constitution” to march to the Capitol and “subvert American democracy,” said Rep. Bennie Thompson, the panel's top Democrat. “January 6 was the culmination of an attempted coup."
- Opening statement: Rep. Liz Cheney, the panel's vice chair, revealed that Trump had expressed support for rioters' calls to hang Pence.
- Video footage: Thompson played a clip of former Attorney General Bill Barr saying that referring to the 2020 election as stolen was "b*******," and that he told the former president that.
- Who the panel wanted to talk to: In addition to live witnesses, the first hearing also has featured video clips from recorded interviews the panel has conducted during its nearly 11-month investigation. Here's who the House panel has wanted to hear from during its 10-month investigation. Some have cooperated, some have not.
Republicans blast committee during the hearing
While the Democratic-led House select committee was laying out its findings on the Capitol insurrection, Republican leaders were again blasting the panel — and trying to change the subject.
In most cases they didn't offer rebuttals to the specific claims or evidence offered during the nighttime hearing.
"All [Democrats] are doing is trying to paint a new political narrative ... because the Democrat agenda has failed," Florida Republican Rep. Byron Donalds said on Fox News in a video clip that was shared by former President Donald Trump's political action committee.
Several GOP figures turned turned to Fox News and other sympathetic media to make their case — as Fox's main cable news channel opted not to air the hearing in full, as other networks did.
The Twitter account for the House Judiciary Committee's GOP members said simply:
All. Old. News.— House Judiciary GOP (@JudiciaryGOP) June 10, 2022
While its ranking member, Ohio Republican Jim Jordan, wrote: "Where’s the primetime hearing on President Biden’s botched Afghanistan withdrawal?"
The online and on-air commentary follows a news conference earlier in the day from House Republican leaders. "It is the most political and least legitimate committee in American history," Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said.
Rep. Liz Cheney — one of two Republicans on the select committee, and a member of House GOP leadership before she was stripped of her role — had explicit words for members of her party during her opening remarks.
"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."
A Capitol Police officer injured on Jan. 6 recalls the chaos and carnage
The House panel heard on Thursday night from U.S. Capitol Police officer Caroline Edwards, who it described as the first law enforcement officer to be injured in the Jan. 6 riot.
It also played video of her being violently slammed to the ground by protesters breaking through a barrier outside of the Capitol, knocking her unconscious — the first of several injuries she sustained that day.
"I couldn't believe my eyes," she recalled of the scene, which she compared to a war zone. "There were officers on the ground. They were bleeding, they were throwing up ... I saw friends with blood all over their faces, I was slipping in people's blood. I was catching people as they fell. It was carnage, it was chaos. I can't even describe what I saw."
Several law enforcement officers who responded to the riot, as well as family members of those who died as a result, looked on as Edwards described her experience.
Edwards said as the mob grew, she told her sergeant "the understatement of the century: 'Sarge, I think we're going to need a few more people down here."
The officers on that part of the Capitol grounds grabbed bike racks to try to keep the protesters at bay and buy time for more units to respond.
As officers and protesters grappled over the bike racks, she remembers feeling one come on top of her head and pushing her backwards. Her foot caught on one of the concrete stairs behind her and her chin hit the handrail, at which point she lost consciousness and her head hit the stairs.
Thursday's hearing is over. The next one is Monday
The prime time hearing of the House select committee on the Jan. 6 Capitol attack ended with a video montage of various rioters saying why they showed up to try to stop Congress from certifying the 2020 election results.
The series of clips made it clear that the committee sees former President Donald Trump as bearing the ultimate responsibility for the deadly violence of Jan. 6, 2021.
“I did believe the election was being stolen and Trump asked us to come,” Robert Schornak, who has been sentenced to 36 months probation, said in a video interview. “You know, Trump only asked me for two things. He asked me for my vote and he asked me to come on January 6.”
The hearing, scheduled for about 90 minutes, lasted slightly less than two hours.
The committee’s next hearing is scheduled for Monday morning. It will focus on Trump’s attempts to litigate his claims that election fraud was committed, Vice Chair Liz Cheney said.
Looking ahead, Cheney outlined the topics of hearings through June including: Trump’s pressure on the Justice Department to say the election was corrupt; Trump’s pressure on former Vice President Mike Pence to refuse to count electoral votes; Trump’s pressure on state legislators to change election results; and how Trump summoned a violent mob and directed them illegally to march.
Proud Boy says far-right group's membership increased 'exponentially' after Trump comment
Membership for the Proud Boys increased "exponentially" after former President Donald Trump told the far-right group to "stand back and standby," according to video testimony from a Proud Boy displayed at the hearing.
"I'd say tripled, probably," Jeremy Bertino, who's listed as a Proud Boy by the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot, says in a deposition.
The testimony was played as part of a video featuring Marcus Childress, one of the lawyers for the panel.
Trump made those remarks on the presidential debate stage in September 2020, after moderator Chris Wallace asked Trump if he would condemn white supremacists, and suggested he condemn the Proud Boys.
Trump repeatedly sidestepped the question and then said, "Proud Boys, stand back and standby. But I'll tell you what: Somebody's got to do something about antifa and the left."
Hearing watch party is a 'darkly fun' time for viewers
Several dozen people gathered at Summit Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia to watch the House select committee hearing on the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Ahead of the event, attendees filled plates from platters of prepared sandwiches and sipped on drinks, while organizers handed out satirical "awards" to Republican politicians, including "The Golden Boot."
Organizers described the event as a "darkly fun" time.
The event is one of a number of watch events being coordinated by left-leaning groups across the country for the committee's first prime time hearing.
Cheney's message to GOP colleagues who continue to support Trump
Towards the end of her opening remarks, Rep. Liz Cheney offered a stark message to members of her party who continue to support former President Donald Trump and downplay the events of Jan. 6.
“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," she said.
Cheney is the top Republican on the House committee investigating the riot, and a vocal critic of the former president — at risk to her own political future.
On the day of Jan. 6, she was the third highest-ranking House Republican. Months later, she was removed from her leadership position in retaliation for her sustained criticism of Trump's election falsehoods and role in the riot.
Trump expressed support for rioters' calls to hang Pence, Cheney reveals
In her opening remarks, Republican Rep. Liz Cheney — the vice chair of the House select committee and a prominent critic of former President Donald Trump — placed the blame for the Jan. 6 attack squarely on the former president.
She accused him of provoking violence by spreading misinformation in the weeks after the 2020 election, and ignoring his advisers' calls to instruct rioters to stand down.
In fact, she cited testimony from administration staff who were in the West Wing on Jan. 6 saying that Trump was yelling and angry at advisers who told him he needed to take action to quell the violence.
Cheney also said he was aware of rioters' chants to hang former Vice President Mike Pence, reportedly remarking that "maybe our supporters have the right idea" and saying he "deserves it."
She also played clips from witness testimony and outlined some of the arguments and evidence the committee will present in the rest of this month's hearing. Among those points: the riot was not spontaneous, people who stormed the Capitol were motivated by Trump's false claims of a stolen election, Trump ignored proof from his campaign and dozens of lawsuits that he had indeed lost the election, and many of his associates resigned and distanced themselves from the administration in the wake of Jan. 6.
Cheney urged viewers to keep two points in mind as they watch the upcoming proceedings: The investigation is still ongoing, and the Department of Justice is currently working with cooperating witnesses and has only disclosed some of the info it has identified to date.
Ivanka Trump says she 'accepted' Barr's conclusion that election wasn't stolen
In a piece of video evidence revealed during Rep. Liz Cheney's opening statement, Ivanka Trump, the former president's daughter and his onetime White House adviser, reacted to then-Attorney General William Barr saying that the 2020 election was not stolen.
Interviewers asked Ivanka Trump for her reaction to Barr's statement.
"It affected my perspective. I respect Attorney General Barr so I accepted what he said," Ivanka Trump testified.
The clip was the first time the committee presented any testimony from Ivanka Trump, though more is expected.
The committee will hold six hearings, where it intends to detail a conspiracy by Donald Trump to overturn the election that ultimately led to a violent insurrection meant to stop Congress from certifying the 2020 election results.
Thompson says Jan. 6 was the 'culmination of an attempted coup'
In his opening remarks, Rep. Bennie Thompson, chair of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection, called the attack that day a "culmination of an attempted coup."
Jan. 6 was a "sprawling multistep conspiracy aimed at overturning the election, aimed at overturning the votes of millions of Americans," Thompson said.
Thompson also pointed to the former president as the center of the conspiracy that the 2020 election was stolen from him.
"Donald Trump was at the center of that conspiracy. And ultimately, Donald Trump, the president of the United States, spurred a mob of domestic enemies of the Constitution to march down to the Capitol and subvert American democracy,” Thompson said.
The chairman also introduced the first piece of video evidence in the hearing, a clip of former Attorney General Bill Barr saying that referring to the 2020 election as stolen was "b*******," and that he told the former president that.
Tonight's hearing was designed for prime time — by a former TV news executive
People across the country are gathering at watch parties and warming up their TVs ahead of tonight's Jan. 6 committee hearing, the first of several scheduled for this month and — as far as we know — the only one taking place during prime time.
It's one of the signs that the committee is hoping to draw and captivate as large an audience as possible. Plus, as Axios first reported, it even enlisted the help of former ABC News President James Goldston to produce the hearing "as if it were a blockbuster investigative special."
Goldston has promised the committee it will all be factually based and told associates he sees this as a civic duty, according to NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik. He's reportedly planning to make the event raw enough to merit new media coverage while accessible enough to attract viewers who haven't been following every turn of the investigation.
The two impeachment trials of former President Donald Trump drew a lot of media attention but were confusing to many viewers, Folkenflik notes — though both events aim to weave together documentary footage and witness testimony into a compelling narrative.
He offers this explanation for why the committee is going to such lengths this time around:
"There's a desire to make sure this punches through, that it's compelling on TV. There's a worry that it will be politicized, as it has already been dismissed by House Republicans and allies of former President Donald Trump, or simply ignored. And they want it to burst through."-- NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik
Proceedings will be broadcast live online and on cable news channels, except for Fox News.
A refresher on how the Jan. 6 attack unfolded
January 6, 2021, was a Wednesday. A joint session of Congress was set to convene in the U.S. Capitol to certify Joe Biden's electoral vote win. Meanwhile, thousands of Donald Trump supporters gathered near the White House to hear him speak at noon.
Tensions were high on Capitol Hill. Protesters swarmed lawmakers outside.
Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., was exasperated as protesters surrounded him on the steps of the Russell Senate Office Building at around 11:30 a.m.
"When it comes to the law, our opinions don't matter. The law matters. ... I value your opinion. ... I share your conviction that President [Donald] Trump should remain president. I share that conviction. But the law matters. I took an oath. I took an oath under God. Under God. Do we still take that seriously in this country?" he said, emphatically waving his arms in the air.
As the House select committee on Jan. 6 holds its first hearing, we revisit the events of that day — who said what, and what happened when.
What happens after the Jan. 6 hearings are over?
The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol is expected to have six or so hearings over the next month.
But what happens after the hearings are over?
The panel — though its members have combed through thousands of documents relating to the insurrection — cannot bring criminal charges against any figures it is investigating. That action falls to the Department of Justice, which so far has charged more than 800 people related to the attack last January and obtained the cooperation of insiders from far-right groups.
But even with those efforts, there is still mounting pressure on the DOJ to do more, particularly when it comes to holding those who weren't storming the Capitol on Jan. 6 — like former President Donald Trump — accountable.
The hearings might lead the House committee to recommend more criminal charges, says William Banks, a professor of law and public policy at Syracuse University. But any actions the DOJ may take in the aftermath of the hearings and the committee's report on the investigation could take time.
"If the next round of hearings leads the Committee to recommend criminal charges, DOJ will make carefully considered judgments about the culpability of the potential defendants," he said in an email. "The First Amendment, executive branch privilege, and other protections for the accused continue to complicate the landscape."
The sprawling investigation into Jan. 6
NPR's Investigations and News Apps teams have been meticulously tracking those arrested and charged in the wake of the Capitol insurrection.
- Well over 800 people have so far been charged with crimes.
- At least 213 defendants have been charged with violence.
- So far, 303 people have pleaded guilty to one or more charges.
- Judges have handed down sentences to 186 people, and 44% of those people who have been sentenced received prison time.
Biden has the hearing on his mind as he meets with leaders in Los Angeles
President Biden, in Los Angeles discussing migration, climate and the economy with Latin American leaders, also has tonight’s hearing on his mind.
At the start of a meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on the sidelines of the Summit of the Americas, Biden said:
“One of the things that is going to occupy my country tonight, I suspect, is the first open hearings on January the 6th. As I said when it was occurring — and subsequently — I think it was a clear, flagrant violation of the Constitution. I think these guys and women broke the law, tried to turn around the result of an election. And there are a lot of questions about who is responsible and who is involved. I’m not going to make a judgement on that.”
Biden has spent a lot of time talking about democracy at the summit. He kept the authoritarian leaders of Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela off the invite list — a move that resulted in other leaders deciding not to come, in protest.
He’ll also meet with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, a close ally of former President Donald Trump, who has raised questions about the Biden’s election win as recently as Tuesday. Bolsonaro has been casting doubt on Brazil’s election system ahead of his own tough reelection campaign this fall — a system that U.S. officials have said is fair and democratic.
Panel Chair Rep. Bennie Thompson will say 'democracy remains in danger'
Jan. 6 select committee Chair Rep. Bennie Thompson plans to tell a public hearing on Thursday that the United States must confront the truth about the Capitol attack and understand that it was not an isolated incident.
“Our democracy remains in danger. The conspiracy to thwart the will of the people is not over,” he will say, according to excerpts of his remarks.
“January 6th 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,” he will also say.
The committee is holding six public hearings over June to weave together the story of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol intended to stop Congress from ratifying the results of the 2020 presidential election. It then plans to release a report containing recommendations in September.
Proud Boys leader and 2 associates plead not guilty to seditious conspiracy
The leader of the far-right Proud Boys group and two of his associates pleaded not guilty in federal court Thursday afternoon to new charges against them in connection with the Capitol riot.
They're preparing for a trial that could begin in August.
A federal grand jury recently added the rare and serious charge of seditious conspiracy against Enrique Tarrio, Joseph Biggs and Dominic Pezzola. The Justice Department says they tried to overthrow the government by using force.
Defense lawyers want the trial to be moved outside of Washington, D.C. They're worried information from the House Jan. 6 committee hearings could inflame the jury pool.
Prosecutors said they're still negotiating with Congress to get copies of the committee's transcripts of witness interviews, but those may not be made public until September when the trial is under way. Notably, the Jan. 6 committee interviewed more than 1,000 people.
Republicans continue attacks on committee as it prepares for first hearing
Hours before the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol starts its first hearing, Republican House leaders continue to claim the panel's work is illegitimate.
"It is the most political and least legitimate committee in American history," Republican Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said at a GOP conference Thursday morning.
McCarthy called the committee a "smokescreen" for Democrats to push their agenda. The congressman was one of five House Republicans subpoenaed by the select committee.
Former President Donald Trump has been actively posting on the social media platform Truth and has continued peddling his false narrative that the 2020 election was stolen, calling the House committee investigation a "hoax."
Democrat Bennie Thompson and Republican Liz Cheney lead the Jan. 6 committee
Thompson, who hails from rural Mississippi, was tapped by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to lead the committee when it was created last year.
"Chairman Thompson is the chair of one of the committees of jurisdiction, Homeland Security, and this was an assault on our homeland security and he commands a great deal of respect in our caucus and I'm very proud of what he is doing," Pelosi told NPR.
Cheney, for her part, is breaking with her own party in participating in the committee in the first place. Thompson announced last September that Cheney would be the No. 2 lead on the committee. Just one other Republican, Rep. Adam Kinzinger, sits on the committee alongside Cheney and seven Democrats.
Cheney told CBS News last weekend that the country hasn't seen any remorse from former President Donald Trump about what happened at the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
"We are in fact in a situation where he continues to use even more extreme language, frankly, than the language that caused the attack," Cheney said Sunday. "And so, people must pay attention. People must watch, and they must understand how easily our democratic system can unravel if we don't defend it."
A Capitol Police officer and a filmmaker will testify in the first hearing
The first Jan. 6 House hearing on Thursday will feature two witnesses, the committee announced Tuesday.
U.S. Capitol Police Officer Caroline Edwards, who the committee says was the first law enforcement officer injured by rioters storming the Capitol grounds, and Nick Quested, a filmmaker who documented the Capitol that morning, will serve as witnesses during the prime-time hearing that begins at 8 p.m. EDT.
The committee says Edwards suffered a traumatic brain injury from the rioters as she patrolled the Capitol’s West Plaza on Jan. 6. Since then, she has not been able to return to her previous assignment with the Capitol Police but is looking to return sometime this year after she is physically cleared.
What to expect at Thursday's Jan 6. committee hearing
The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol will hold a prime-time hearing tonight on what it's learned so far, showcasing evidence members have gathered from the violent attack that happened just weeks before then-President-elect Biden’s inauguration in 2021.
Thursday’s hearing will kick off what is expected to be roughly six hearings throughout June.
In a press release last week, the committee said it will present “previously unseen material” documenting the day of the insurrection and will preview what will take place at future hearings. Committee member Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., told NPR that he thinks of the framework of the insurrection hearings as similar to the impeachment hearings of former President Donald Trump.
"My thought is, much what we tried to do in the impeachment trial ... is to make it a multimedia presentation, to integrate witness testimony with video footage with documentary evidence with audio tapes to make it very engaging,” Schiff said.
One challenge committee members may face is capturing Americans’ attention to an event that took place nearly a year and a half ago.
Lawmakers on the committee, however, have stressed in recent days that the hearings will provide dramatic and “disturbing” new evidence around what took place leading up to Jan. 6.
The committee’s next hearing is scheduled to take place on the morning of June 13.
Where you can watch the Jan. 6 hearing — and one place you can’t
The House select subcommittee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection has scheduled its first hearing on what it has learned so far for prime time — for a reason. That's because more viewers will tune in to the feed as its broadcast live online and on cable news channels.
You can watch the hearing starting at 8 p.m. ET here.
The 8 p.m. ET start time will likely grab attention from more Americans, but one place the hearing won’t be available: Fox News.
The conservative network announced Tuesday that the cable channel will only cover the hearings “as news warrants,” but the proceedings will be livestreamed on the network’s other outlets such as Fox Business and Fox Nation.
The nine-member select subcommittee has revealed several of the network’s hosts were texting with then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows the day of the attack. The committee also sought to speak with Fox News host Sean Hannity.