Focus of Primetime Jan. 6 Hearing: Trump's Inaction

Committee to argue Trump wanted the violence, struggled to condemn it
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 21, 2022 8:07 AM CDT
Focus of Primetime Jan. 6 Hearing: Trump's Inaction
Former deputy national security adviser Matthew Pottinger departs after President Donald Trump awarded the Medal of Honor to Army Sgt. Maj. Thomas P. Payne in the East Room of the White House, Sept. 11, 2020, in Washington.   (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

The House select committee investigating the events of Jan. 6, 2021, returns to primetime Thursday. In its 8pm ET hearing, the panel will argue then-President Trump failed to act to defend the Capitol over 187 excruciating minutes: from the time he wrapped up his speech at the Ellipse at 1:10pm until he released a video telling rioters to leave the Capitol at 4:17pm. "We'll go through pretty much minute by minute during that timeframe," Rep. Elaine Luria of Virginia tells CNN. "He was doing nothing to actually stop the riot." Luria, a Democrat, will co-lead the committee's eighth hearing with GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois. Rep. Bennie Thompson, who tested positive for COVID-19 this week, will chair the hearing virtually, per NPR.

Video depositions from former Trump aides—including former White House counsel Pat Cipollone, who testified that he urged Trump to intervene in order to save lives—are expected to be played. Two former White House aides who quit on Jan. 6—former deputy national security adviser Matthew Pottinger and former deputy press secretary Sarah Matthews—will testify. In a video deposition, Pottinger said he read Trump's tweet from 2:24pm on Jan. 6 stating Vice President Mike Pence "didn't have the courage" to reject or delay the congressional count of presidential electors and "made a decision at that moment to resign."

Matthews told the committee Trump "was pouring gasoline on the fire by tweeting that," per CNN. She's expected to say whether Trump knew violence had erupted when he sent the tweet, per the Washington Post. The panel will also touch on what happened beyond those 187 minutes: Outtakes from a video message Trump recorded for his supporters on Jan. 7, 2021, will be played. The outtakes show "how [Trump] was ultimately prevailed upon to say something and what he was willing to say and what he wasn't," Rep. Adam Schiff tells CNN. Per the Post, the argument from the committee will be that "Trump wanted the violence, he is responsible for it and his unwillingness to help end it amounts to a dereliction of duty and a violation of his oath of office." (More Jan. 6 hearings stories.)

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