7 takeaways from the January 6 hearing

CNN  — 

The House select committee’s final hearing on the Capitol Hill insurrection before the midterm elections Thursday used new testimony and evidence to demonstrate how former President Donald Trump knew he had lost the election but still went forward with efforts to overturn the results, leading to the attack on the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.

The committee’s hearing used new records obtained from the Secret Service and new deposition footage from former Trump Cabinet secretaries and White House officials to bolster the argument that Trump still remains a danger to democracy heading into the 2024 election.

Here are the takeaways from the committee’s latest January 6 hearing:

Committee votes to subpoena former President

The committee voted Thursday to subpoena Trump for documents and testimony, marking an escalation in the panel’s efforts to obtain testimony from the former President.

The committee’s leaders argued that Trump was at the center of efforts to overturn the 2020 election that led to the violence of the insurrection, and as a result they needed Trump’s testimony to tell the complete story of January 6.

“We are obligated to seek answers directly from the man who set this all in motion,” said Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the panel’s top Republican. “And every American is entitled to the answers, so we can act now to protect our republic.”

And select committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat, argued that Trump “is the one person at the center of the story of what happened on January 6th. So we want to hear from him.”

Of course, the panel is issuing the subpoena nearing the end of recognition as a select committee, which is likely an acknowledgment that Trump is not going to comply. Should Trump object to the subpoena, it could lead to a lengthy court fight that outlives the committee.

That’s because if Republicans take back control of the House, which they’re favored to do, the January 6 committee as it’s currently constructed will cease to exist – giving the panel less than three months to issue a final report of its findings.

Still, the subpoena marks a notable escalation in taking on Trump directly. While it’s not unprecedented, congressional subpoenas to sitting or former presidents are rare. And if Trump does buck the subpoena, it would allow the committee to proclaim that it made a formal attempt to get Trump to talk to panelists, only to see him to refuse.

Panel airs new footage of congressional leaders scrambling to respond from Fort McNair

The committee aired previously unseen footage from Fort McNair, the DC-area Army base where congressional leaders took refuge during the insurrection and scrambled to respond to the unfolding crisis.

Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Maryland Democrat, said during the hearing that the footage highlights how Trump administration officials and congressional leaders worked around Trump to put down the riot that he had incited. By showing these behind-the-scenes clips, the committee delivered on its promise to present new material from January 6 to the public.

The footage shows House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, then-Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and other top officials working the phones and coordinating with Trump Cabinet members and other officials to secure the resources needed to quell the insurrection and secure the Capitol.

The footage also showed two phone calls between Pelosi and then-Vice President Mike Pence, who took on an impromptu leadership role on January 6, coordinating the emergency response.

The new footage showed Schumer dressing down then-acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen. During their heated phone call, Schumer implored Rosen to intervene directly with Trump, and tell Trump to call off the mob. During the call, Pelosi told Rosen that the pro-Trump rioters were “breaking the law… at the instigation of the President of the United States.”

During the hearing, the panel labeled the footage as showing lawmakers at an “undisclosed location.” It has been public knowledge since January 6, 2021, that senior congressional leaders from both parties took refuge at Fort McNair, while the Capitol was overrun.

CNN has obtained additional footage from Fort McNair that wasn’t shown by the committee. The exclusive footage will air on CNN on Thursday night at 8 p.m. ET, during a special edition of “Anderson Cooper 360°.” The footage shows congressional leaders, after evacuating from the Capitol, gathering at Fort McNair working the phones, trying to figure out what was going on at the overrun Capitol, and begging for help as they frantically scrambled to quell the insurrection.

Public hears from Elaine Chao interview

Elaine Chao, who resigned from her post as Trump’s secretary of Transportation a day after the insurrection, spoke in personal terms about her disgust toward the attack when she testified to the committee.

“I think the events at the Capitol, however they occurred, were shocking and it was something that, as I mentioned in my statement, that I could not put aside,” said Chao, one of the former members of Trump’s Cabinet whose recorded testimony lawmakers aired on Thursday.

“And at a particular point, the events were such that it was impossible for me to continue, given my personal values and my philosophy. I came as an immigrant to this country. I believe in this country. I believe in the peaceful transfer of power. I believe in democracy. And so I was – it was a decision that I made on my own,” she said.

CNN reported in August that Chao, who is also the wife of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, had met with the committee. But after condemning the attack in her resignation letter in early 2021, Chao has largely stayed out of the national spotlight, with her recent comments to the committee providing fresh insight into her thinking on the deadly attack.