03 divisions on democracy capitol riot

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Washington CNN  — 

It’s been a dramatic six months since the establishment of the House select committee investigating the January 6 Capitol Hill riot.

Much of the committee’s work to this point has taken place behind closed doors, and with an interim report not expected until the summer, the panel has drawn more headlines for the twists and turns of its plodding investigation than the revelations it’s produced.

But it hasn’t been just closed-door interviews, document requests and legal showdowns. Here’s some of the panel’s work that has been made public:

‘Firsthand’ knowledge of Trump’s behavior during the riot

The select committee has information from multiple sources with firsthand knowledge that describe what then-President Donald Trump was doing during the riot, according to a person familiar with the investigation.

“There’s a collection of people with relevant information,” the source told CNN’s Jamie Gangel.

One key witness who has given a deposition is Keith Kellogg, then-Vice President Mike Pence’s national security adviser, who was with Trump in the White House when the riot was happening.

The committee also has texts and other documents that shed light on what Trump was doing, according to the source. Some of those messages came from Mark Meadows, Trump’s former chief of staff, who provided them to the panel. The House voted last month to refer Meadows to the Justice Department for criminal contempt of Congress after he failed to appear for a deposition.

“We have significant testimony that leads us to believe that the White House had been told to do something,” Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat, told CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union.”

“We want to verify all of it so that when we produce our report and when we have the hearings, the public will have an opportunity to see for themselves,” he said. “The only thing I can say, it’s highly unusual for anyone in charge of anything to watch what’s going on and do nothing.”

Hannity’s texts

Fox News host Sean Hannity was concerned about Trump’s strategy and conduct before, during and after the January 6 attack on the US Capitol, according to the panel. The committee said it has text messages from Hannity pushing back on the plan to urge Congress to challenge the certification of the election and urging Trump to prepare for his departure from office.

According to the panel:

  • On December 31, 2020, Hannity wrote to Meadows, “We can’t lose the entire WH counsel’s office. I do not see January 6 happening the way he is being told. After the 6th. [sic] He should announce will lead the nationwide effort to reform voting integrity. Go to Fl and watch Joe mess up daily. Stay engaged. When he speaks people will listen.”
  • On January 5, Hannity wrote to Meadows that he was “very worried about the next 48 hours” and referred to Pence, who oversaw the certification of the 2020 election, saying: “Pence Pressure. WH counsel will leave.”
  • On January 10, Hannity sent messages to Meadows and Ohio Republican Rep. Jim Jordan, including: “Guys, we have a clear path to land the plane in 9 days. He can’t mention the election again. Ever. I did not have a good call with him today. And worse, I’m not sure what is left to do or say, and I don’t like not knowing if it’s truly understood. Ideas?”

Meadows’ texts

Donald Trump Jr., Hannity and other Fox News personalities and lawmakers unsuccessfully implored Meadows on January 6 to get Trump to stop the violence unfurling at the US Capitol, according to text messages relayed by the House committee investigating the attack.

The messages were read by committee members on the House floor before referring the criminal contempt of Congress against Meadows to the Justice Department.

Trump Jr. “‘He’s got to condemn this sh*t ASAP. The Capitol Police tweet is not enough,’” Trump Jr. wrote in one message to Meadows, according to the committee’s vice chairwoman, Republican Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming.

Cheney detailed that when Meadows had texted back that he agreed, Trump Jr. said: “We need an Oval office address. He has to lead now. It has gone too far and gotten out of hand.”

People inside the Capitol, including lawmakers. The congresswoman also read aloud messages that she said had been sent between Meadows and people inside the Capitol complex during the attack:

  • “One text Mr. Meadows received said, ‘We are under siege here at the Capitol.’”
  • “Another, ‘They have breached the Capitol.’”
  • “In a third, ‘Hey, Mark, protesters are literally storming the Capitol. Breaking windows on doors. Rushing in. Is Trump going to say something?’”
  • “A fourth, ‘There’s an armed standoff at the House Chamber door.’”

RELATED: Timeline of the coup: How Trump tried to weaponize the Justice Department to overturn the 2020 election

Fox News hosts. “Indeed, according to the records, multiple Fox News hosts knew the President needed to act immediately,” Cheney said, adding: “They texted Mr. Meadows, and he has turned over those texts.”

  • “Quote, ‘Mark, the President needs to tell people in the Capitol to go home. This is hurting all of us. He is destroying his legacy,’ Laura Ingraham wrote.”
  • “‘Please get him on TV. Destroying everything you have accomplished,’ Brian Kilmeade texted.”
  • “‘Can he make a statement? Ask people to leave the Capitol?’ Sean Hannity urged.”

The election lie, up close

Other messages to Meadows revealed by Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California last month show correspondence before and after the 2020 presidential election centered on keeping Trump in power.

Message about Jeffrey Clark. Schiff read a text from an unknown number that applauded the potential appointment of Jeffery Clark to be acting attorney general while Trump tried to get the Justice Department to support his false claims of election fraud.

“I heard Jeff Clark is getting put in on Monday. That’s amazing. It will make a lot of patriots happy, and I’m personally so proud that you are at the tip of the spear, and I could call you a friend,” the text to Meadows read.

Clark was one of the big proponents at the Justice Department of using the power of the department to investigate unfounded claims of voter fraud, but he was rebuffed by the department’s leaders.

Message suggesting ‘aggressive’ strategy. On November 4, 2020, the day after the election, Meadows received a text message suggesting an “aggressive strategy” for Republican-led state legislatures to “just send their own electors” to Congress and let the Supreme Court decide who had won the election.

Members of the January 6 committee believe that Rick Perry, former Texas governor and energy secretary in the Trump administration, was the author of that message. A spokesman for Perry told CNN that he denies being the author of the text. Multiple people who know Perry confirmed to CNN that the phone number the committee has associated with that text message is his number.

Elusive correspondence. Another text message from a member to Meadows underscored how the committee has not received everything from the former White House chief of staff. “Please check your signal,” the January 5 message said, a reference to the encrypted messaging application Signal.

Gripping testimony

The panel’s first and only public hearing so far featured harrowing testimony from officers who experienced firsthand the violent events of January 6 at the hands of the pro-Trump mob. While a few of the officers had already shared their accounts of the attack publicly, their July testimony under oath brought the insurrection into chilling clarity.

Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell. “The physical violence we experienced was horrific and devastating,” he said. “My fellow officers and I were punched, kicked, shoved, sprayed with chemical irritants and even blinded with eye-damaging lasers by a violent mob.”

“I was particularly shocked at seeing the insurrectionists violently attack us with the very American flag that they claimed they sought to protect,” he said.

DC Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone said he had been “grabbed, beaten, tased, all while being called a traitor to my country” and that he “was at risk of being stripped of and killed with my own firearm as I heard chants of ‘Kill him with his own gun.’ I can still hear those words in my head today.”

Taking aim at efforts to rewrite the history of the insurrection, he said, “What makes the struggle harder and more painful is to know so many of my fellow citizens, including so many of the people I put my life at risk to defend, are downplaying or outright denying what happened.”

DC Metropolitan Police Officer Daniel Hodges described the rioters as “terrorists” and likened the mob to a “cult,” saying at one point during his testimony, “Terrorists pushed through the line and engaged us in hand-to-hand combat. … One latched onto my face and got his thumb in my right eye, attempting to gouge it out. I cried out in pain and managed to shake him off.”

Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn, who is Black, testified that the rioters repeatedly targeted him with vicious racial slurs and called him the N-word.

“In the days following the attempted insurrection, other Black officers shared with me their own stories of racial abuse on January 6,” he said. At one point, he recalled growing emotional and yelling, “Is this America?” as he began sobbing while other officers tried to console him.

Summer blockbuster?

The panel is working toward a goal of releasing an interim report with initial findings by the summer, a committee aide told CNN, with a final report following next fall.

Committee members have said they hope to present more of their work in a public setting this year, which would include hearings that outline the story of what occurred on January 6. The specific timing of these hearings has not yet been set.

The source said the timing of the release of these potential reports, which was first reported by The Washington Post, is subject to change.

“We don’t have a specific date,” Thompson told CNN last month when asked when the panel would begin holding public hearings. “But we’ll have some rolling hearings that will go on a good bit. It will be a nontraditional type of hearing.”

This story has been updated with additional information.

CNN’s Jamie Gangel, Clare Foran, Jeremy Herb, Lauren Fox, Annie Grayer and Ryan Nobles contributed to this report.