Capitol riot committee holds first hearing

By Melissa Macaya, Veronica Rocha, Mike Hayes, Meg Wagner, Maureen Chowdhury and Melissa Mahtani, CNN

Updated 7:48 p.m. ET, July 27, 2021
20 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
10:05 a.m. ET, July 27, 2021

Cheney: If Congress does not act responsibly "this will remain a cancer on our constitutional republic"

Andrew Harnik/Pool/AP
Andrew Harnik/Pool/AP

GOP Rep. Liz Cheney, one of two Republicans on the committee, said during her opening statement that if those responsible for the Jan. 6 riot are not held accountable and if Congress does not act responsibly "this will remain a cancer on our constitutional republic."

Cheney opened her remarks by taking shots at her own party. She said that the members of the committee voted for and would have preferred an "independent nonpartisan commission" that was composed of five members from each party, but it was opposed by Republican leadership in the House and defeated by Republicans in the Senate.

She said that the committee must learn "what happened every minute of that day in the White House." 

"Every phone call, every conversation, every meeting leading up to, during, and after the attack. Honorable men and women have an obligation to step forward. If those responsible are not held accountable and if Congress does not act responsibly, this will remain a cancer on our constitutional republic. Undermining the peaceful transfer of power at the heart of our democratic system," she said.

She continued: "We will face the threat of more violence in the months to come and another January 6th every four years."

 

10:02 a.m. ET, July 27, 2021

GOP Rep. Liz Cheney is delivering her opening remarks

From CNN's Jedd Rosche and Christopher Hickey

GOP Rep. Liz Cheney, one of two Republicans on the Jan. 6 select committee, is delivering her opening remarks.

Cheney was formerly the No. 3 member of House Republican leadership before a very public break with former President Trump following his role in inciting the Jan. 6 riot.

The Republican from Wyoming was one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump earlier this year and has been an outspoken critic of both the former President and GOP lawmakers who support his “Big Lie” about the 2020 election. She was ousted from her leadership position in May.

Cheney was appointed to the committee by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi earlier this month.

10:50 a.m. ET, July 27, 2021

Select committee shows never-before-seen video of Jan. 6 attack

The House select committee showed new video footage from the Jan. 6 Capitol riot at the start of today's hearing.

Before rolling the video, Committee Chair Rep. Bennie Thompson described the attack as an assault on the Capitol "not seen since 1814 when British soldiers sacked the building." 

They raced through the hallways chanting, "'Hang Mike pence. Where is Nancy?' They stormed onto the Senate floor because they wanted to stop the Senate from certifying the election. The rioters tried to take over the House floor for the same reason," he said.

New video of Capitol riot shown at insurrection hearing:

10:14 a.m. ET, July 27, 2021

Committee chair says hearing will be "guided solely by the facts"

From CNN's Elise Hammond

Jim Lo Scalzo/Pool/AP
Jim Lo Scalzo/Pool/AP

Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson, who chairs the Jan. 6 select committee, thanked the police officers who attended today's hearing to testify and said the hearing is going to be "guided solely by the facts," adding "there is no place for politics or partisanship in this investigation."

Thompson said the charge of the committee is to "follow the facts where they lead us," and while there is still a lot to uncover, he outlined some of the points lawmakers already know.

"We know that the insurrection on January 6th was a violent attack that involved vicious assault on law enforcement. We know there is evidence in a coordinated, planned attack. We know that men and women who stormed the Capitol wanted to derail the peaceful transfer of power in this country," Thompson said.

He said another major goal of the committee is to find way to eliminate the threat of "efforts to subvert democracy."

Two DC Metropolitan police officers and two Capitol police officers are testifying at the hearing on Tuesday. Thompson said all officers have the gratitude of the committee and the country.

"You held the line that day. I can't overstate what was on the line, our democracy. You held the line. We're going to revisit some of those moments today. It won't be easy. History will remember your names and actions and it's important to think about history as this committee starts its work," he said. "As we hear from these courageous men and to get answers for the American people because we need to understand our history if we want to understand the significance of what happened on January 6th in our role as members of the people's House. I'm talking about the peaceful transfer of power."

Some more background: Thompson worked with the panel’s top Republican, Rep. John Katko of New York, to reach a compromise behind the legislation that would have created an independent commission to investigate the Jan. 6 riot.

That effort was blocked in the Senate and the House passed a bill to form the special committee that is meeting today.

Thompson has built much of his congressional career on the Homeland Security panel, defined by the fallout from devastating events like Hurricane Katrina and the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

CNN's Jedd Rosche and Christopher Hickey contributed reporting to this post. 

9:50 a.m. ET, July 27, 2021

The committee's chairman is delivering opening remarks. Here are key things to know about him.

From CNN's Lauren Fox, Jeremy Herb, Annie Grayer and Ryan Nobles

Rep. Bennie Thompson, the chairman of the Jan. 6 House select committee, is kicking off today's hearing with his opening remarks.

The 14-term congressman spent months trying to hammer out an agreement for a bipartisan commission to examine the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, only to watch a carefully crafted deal fall apart in the Senate thanks to GOP opposition.

Now, the 73-year-old Thompson is taking the helm of the House select committee at a time when the relationships on Capitol Hill are frayed, tensions are high, and as some of his Republican colleagues have denied the grim realities that defined the day altogether. 

Aides and fellow members are well aware the potential for the select committee to become little more than a forum for political jousting, but the same people say Thompson is uniquely positioned to succeed, approaching his new role armed with a reserve of bipartisan relationships, experience in investigating domestic terrorism and the temperament and patience that getting to the bottom of what unfolded on Jan. 6 may require, even if it drags on for a year or longer.

Thompson may also have to defend against attacks of his own partisanship. In 2005, Thompson was one of roughly 30 Democrats who voted to invalidate the election results from the state of Ohio when President George W. Bush was elected. That vote, which is similar to one that dozens of Republicans took in the hours after the insurrection, could open him up to attacks.

For Thompson, the fraught months ahead will be built on a career spent on the Homeland Security Committee and defined by the fallout from devastating events like Hurricane Katrina and the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. This time, however, Thompson recognizes his investigation may force him to question his own colleagues and a former President who was the target of Democratic investigations for years and still has a loyal following on Capitol Hill.

Read more about Thompson here.

9:40 a.m. ET, July 27, 2021

The committee hearing has begun. These are the key players in today's panel.

From CNN's Daniella Diaz, Melanie Zanona and Aaron Pellish

Jim Lo Scalzo-Pool/Getty Images
Jim Lo Scalzo-Pool/Getty Images

The first hearing of the House select committee to investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol riot just began.

The hearing will feature new video footage from the perspective of police officers who were engaged with the mob during the attack, a source familiar with the planning told CNN. The footage is expected to give viewers new perspectives into what first responders experienced and further underscore to the public the violence that unfolded.

The hearing will also include testimony from police officers who defended the Capitol that day. The witnesses have shared their stories publicly before, which include accounts of being beaten with a flagpole, being the target of racist slurs, being crushed in a door and being tased by the rioters.

These are the key players participating in today's panel:

Witnesses:

  • DC Metropolitan Police Officer Daniel Hodges
  • DC Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone
  • Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn
  • Capitol Police Officer Sgt. Aquilino Gonell

Select committee members:

Democrats (7): 

  • Chair Bennie Thompson (Mississippi’s 2nd District)
  • Rep. Zoe Lofgren (California’s 19th District)
  • Rep. Adam Schiff (California’s 28th District)
  • Rep. Pete Aguilar (California’s 31st District)
  • Rep. Stephanie Murphy (Florida’s 7th District)
  • Rep. Jamie Raskin (Maryland’s 8th District)
  • Rep. Elaine Luria (Virginia’s 2nd District)

Republicans (2): 

  • Rep. Liz Cheney (Wyoming’s At-Large District)
  • Rep. Adam Kinzinger (Illinois’ 16th District)

Learn more about the committee members here.

9:32 a.m. ET, July 27, 2021

SOON: Select committee will hold first Capitol riot hearing with 4 officers on the front lines

From CNN's Jeremy Herb, Lauren Fox and Clare Foran

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol will soon hold its first high-profile hearing Tuesday with testimony from four officers who will give firsthand accounts of the horrors they witnessed and endured as rioters stormed the building.

What to expect: The officers are expected to recount the harrowing attacks they faced on Jan. 6, including being beaten with a flagpolegetting crushed in a doorway, being the target of racial slurs and facing rioters who tased them.

The committee also is expected to show never-before-seen videos depicting the violence from that day, just as House impeachment managers did during the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump.

The goal Tuesday, according to select committee member Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California, is to portray what it was like "to be on the front lines for the brave police officers" and to push back on efforts to whitewash the events of that day.

9:29 a.m. ET, July 27, 2021

These are the 2 lone Republicans on the Jan. 6 committee

From CNN's Daniella Diaz, Melanie Zanona and Aaron Pellish

Getty Images
Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Sunday she appointed GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger to the House select committee to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the US Capitol, bolstering the Republican presence on the panel after GOP leadership pulled its appointees last week.

Kinzinger, a vocal critic of former President Trump who was one of 10 House Republicans to vote for his second impeachment, is joining Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming as the only Republicans on the committee.

Pelosi named Cheney — another vocal Trump critic who voted for his impeachment earlier this year — among her eight selections to the panel earlier this month.

"Let me be clear, I'm a Republican dedicated to conservative values, but I swore an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution—and while this is not the position I expected to be in or sought out, when duty calls, I will always answer," Kinzinger, a Illinois Republican, said in a statement Sunday.

Kinzinger's appointment may bring additional legitimacy to one of the most consequential investigations ever conducted by Congress and will likely make it harder for Republicans to argue that it's a partisan endeavor — although they quickly framed Pelosi's announcement that way. "The Speaker has structured this select committee to satisfy her political objectives," House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said in a statement Sunday.

What happened to the other Republicans on the committee? McCarthy withdrew all of his five of GOP appointees from the panel last week after Pelosi rejected two of his choices — Reps. Jim Banks of Indiana and Jim Jordan of Ohio — for their roles in pushing to overturn the presidential election results.

The other three selected by McCarthy were Reps. Rodney Davis of Illinois, Kelly Armstrong of North Dakota and Troy Nehls of Texas. Banks, Jordan and Nehls all objected to the certification of the 2020 presidential election.

9:20 a.m. ET, July 27, 2021

DOJ says former justice officials can testify on Trump’s actions in lead up to Jan. 6 

From CNN's Evan Perez

The Justice Department formally declined to assert executive privilege for testimony of at least some witnesses related to the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, a person briefed on the matter said. 

The decision paves the way for some former Justice Department officials to provide potential testimony on what they witnessed in the chaotic days between former President Trump’s November election loss and early January when he tried to use the Justice Department and other means to advance false claims that he won.

Among the potential witnesses from whom a special select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack is expected to seek testimony is Jeffrey Rosen, who was acting attorney general in late December and until the inauguration of President Biden. 

Rosen and other Justice officials were at the center of a pressure campaign by Trump and other White House officials to back his claims of voter fraud. Frustrated that the Justice Department didn’t find evidence of fraud, Trump contemplated replacing Rosen with Jeffrey Clark, another Justice Department official who signaled support for the fraud claims. Rosen and a group of top Justice officials prepared to resign if Clark were made acting attorney general. 

The Justice Department’s decision applies to former Justice employees. Other potential witnesses that the committee may want to hear from, such as former White House officials, may be subject to a different standard under executive privilege. 

An attorney for Trump didn’t immediately respond to a request comment.