Former President Donald Trump was at the center of the Jan. 6 conspiracy, committee chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS) said in his opening statement as committee hearings about the attack on the Capitol began.
"Ultimately, Donald Trump, the president of the United States, spurred a mob of domestic enemies to march down the Capitol and subvert American democracy," Thompson said Thursday evening.
Thompson played a video of former Attorney General Bill Barr's deposition, in which Barr said he had three discussions with Trump between Election Day 2020 and his resignation from the Trump administration in December 2020.
"I made it clear I did not agree with the idea that the election was stolen, which, I told the president, was bullsh*t. 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."
Barr added, "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."
Committee vice chair Liz Cheney (R-WY) said Trump "refused" to call off "a violent mob" and instead sat watching television in the dining room next to the Oval Office.
"There is no room for debate," Cheney said. "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."
After new video footage of the riot played, Cheney said, "White House staff urged President Trump to intervene and call off the mob." She provided a document allegedly written by White House staff during the riot "advising what the president needed to say."
The note read, "Anyone who entered the Capitol without proper authority should leave immediately."
"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," Cheney said.
Trump did not call his Secretary of Defense, his attorney general, the Department of Homeland Security, the National Guard, or the Department of Justice, she said.
Cheney also played a deposition from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, detailing his conversations with former Vice President Mike Pence on Jan. 6. Pence urged former Defense Secretary Christopher Miller to "get military down here, get the guard down here, put down this situation," Milley said.
"(Pence) was very animated and he issued very explicit, very direct, unambiguous orders — there was no question about that. He was very animated, very direct, very firm."
Milley also relayed his conversation with then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows.
"He said, 'we have 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.' That's something I immediately interpret that as politics, politics, politics, red flag for me personally."
Testimony was also played from Trump’s daughter and former White House advisor Ivanka Trump, in which she was asked about Barr's findings on whether the 2020 election was stolen.
The former first daughter said, "It affected my perspective. I respect Attorney General Barr so I accepted what he said."
Capitol Police Officer Caroline Edwards said she was "called a lot of things on Jan. 6, 2021 and 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."
She added, "I, whose literal blood, sweat and tears were shed that day defending the building that I spent countless holidays and weekends working in. They dared to question my honor. They dared to question my loyalty, and they dared to question my duty."
Edwards continued, "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."
Thompson closed the two-hour-long hearing and said that the committee will reconvene next week to "examine the lies that convinced those men and others to storm the Capitol, to try to stop the transfer of power."
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