The January 6 committee plans to show at its hearing Tuesday how right-wing extremist groups including the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers prepared to attack the US Capitol in the days leading up to January 6, 2021 – and the groups’ ties to Donald Trump associates, including Roger Stone and Michael Flynn, according to committee aides.
The latest January 6 hearing – set to begin at 1 p.m. ET and the panel’s seventh since it began last month – will focus on the extremist groups and their preparations ahead of January 6, 2021. Committee aides said the hearing will also scrutinize how Trump’s actions fueled the groups, such as his December 2020 tweet telling his supporters descend on Washington on January 6.
The hearing is also expected to be the first chance for the committee to play clips of its closed-door interview last week with former Trump White House counsel Pat Cipollone.
Committee aides said that the hearing would connect Trump’s multiple pressure campaigns to try to overturn his 2020 election loss to Joe Biden to the violence at the Capitol on January 6, which was led by the extremist groups that will be a focus of the hearing.
One of the witnesses testifying Tuesday is expected to be Jason Van Tatenhove, a former spokesperson and self-described “propagandist” for the Oath Keepers, CNN reported on Sunday. Stephen Ayres, one of the many people who descended on Capitol Hill on January 6 and was later accused and pleaded guilty to entering the Capitol illegally, is also scheduled to testify at Tuesday’s hearing, a source familiar with the committee’s plans confirmed to CNN on Monday night.
While there had been discussions that the committee would hold a second hearing later this week, aides confirmed that the panel’s only public session would take place on Tuesday.
Here are the key things to watch for during Tuesday’s hearing:
Hearing to scrutinize actions of GOP members of Congress
Committee aides said that the committee would focus once again Tuesday on the role that Republican members of Congress played in the lead-up to January 6.
The aides said that the hearing would examine their involvement in Trump’s pressure campaign, particularly against then-Vice President Mike Pence. After Trump publicly and privately pushed Pence to help him overturn the election on January 6, rioters called for Pence’s hanging as they stormed the Capitol.
Aides said that the hearing would further explore how members of Congress helped Trump in the days leading up to January 6 with “last-ditch efforts to overturn the election result and stop the transfer of power.”
In previous hearings, committee members have focused on numerous roles their GOP colleagues played aiding Trump’s efforts to overturn the election, including efforts to help a Trump loyalist gain power inside the Justice Department. The committee also provided emails and testimony showing multiple Republican members of Congress sought pardons from Trump after January 6.
Extremist connections to Trump associates
After the committee’s first hearing last month, the panel’s chairman, Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, told CNN that the hearings would describe conversations between extremist groups and members of Trump’s orbit.
That thread is likely to be a key focus of Tuesday’s hearing, as the committee had tried to frame every hearing around Trump’s role. Committee aides cited two Trump associates, Stone and Flynn, ahead of Tuesday’s hearing.
The Justice Department’s cases against members of the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers have shown that both groups stuck close to right-wing VIPs, especially those they believed they were providing volunteer “security” for on January 5 and 6, 2021.
That includes Joshua James, an Oath Keeper who has pleaded guilty to seditious conspiracy who chauffeured Stone. Stone also has close ties to prominent members of the Proud Boys, going back years.
In addition to the extremist groups, the committee said Tuesday’s hearing would focus on the QAnon conspiracy theory.
Inside the White House, the committee featured testimony late last month from Cassidy Hutchinson, the former aide to then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, who said she heard about both groups in the lead-up to January 6.
“I recall hearing the word ‘Oath Keeper’ and hearing the word ‘Proud Boys’ closer to the planning of the January 6 rally, when (Trump lawyer Rudy) Giuliani would be around,” Hutchinson said in a video deposition the committee played during its hearing where she testified.