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
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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. 

9:09 a.m. ET, July 27, 2021

Liz Cheney calls efforts from GOP leadership to detract from select committee "really sad"

From CNN's Lauren Fox and Annie Grayer

Andrew Harnik/AP
Andrew Harnik/AP

GOP Rep. Liz Cheney, who will give an opening statement in the select committee’s first hearing with police officers, told CNN’s Lauren Fox that the way Republican leadership is reacting to the select committee “is really sad.”

Asked if she believes the select committee should pursue the line of questioning that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is harping on, namely asking what House Speaker Nancy Pelosi knew the day of Jan. 6, Cheney said the committee would go wherever the facts lead but criticized her party’s leadership for framing the select committee as “some sort of a partisan game.”

“The committee will absolutely pursue everything. We will look at what the security failures were in the Capitol on that day. And we will go where the facts lead,” Cheney said when asked if pursuing what Pelosi knew about the security failures on January 6 was a legitimate line of inquiry.

But she added, “I think what is really sad is watching the leadership of my party act as though this some of a political game, some sort of a partisan game. It’s deadly serious, it’s not a game. And I would hope that they would start to recognize that.”

Cheney also said to expect the hearing to highlight the stories of the officers who defended the Capitol on Jan. 6.

“I think that what we really will see is the importance of these officer’s testimony, and I think all of us on the committee are very committed to making sure that we give them the opportunity to tell their story,” Cheney said.

Cheney said the testimony from officers will counter the “efforts to try to whitewash” by some of her Republican colleagues and former President Trump of that day.

“We've seen many efforts to try to whitewash what happened that day, and no American can watch their testimony can watch the video and make the kinds of claims that we've seen from some of my colleagues and from former President Trump," she said.

9:08 a.m. ET, July 27, 2021

The Jan. 6 select committee will hear from these 4 police officers 

From CNN's Zachary Cohen and Marshall Cohen

 Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone with U.S. Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn at the U.S. Capitol on June 25, 2021.
 Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone with U.S. Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn at the U.S. Capitol on June 25, 2021. Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

The House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack will hear testimony Tuesday from four police officers who were on the frontlines that day as rioters supporting then-President Trump violently stormed the US Capitol in an attempt to stop lawmakers from certifying President Biden’s electoral win.

The hearing will mark the first time the panel will have public testimony, and will kick-start its efforts to investigate the events on Jan. 6.

The four officers testifying are:

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

The men 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.

During Tuesday’s hearing the officers will again describe what they experienced on Jan. 6, according to a source familiar with their plans, who told CNN that the testimony will be “quite vivid” at times.

The witnesses will also raise questions for the committee to consider, stemming from how officers are still grappling with the physical and psychological wounds they endured more than six months ago and the care that they are, or are not, receiving, the source added.

Read more about their stories here.

9:05 a.m. ET, July 27, 2021

Jan. 6 committee chair offers preview of today's hearing

From CNN's Lauren Fox and Annie Grayer

Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

CNN’s Lauren Fox caught up with Rep. Bennie Thompson, who chairs the Jan. 6 select committee, before the start of the committee’s first hearing.

Asked about new video that will be shown during the hearing today, Thompson said, “some of the video will show some of the people who are testifying before us today, some of it has not been shown.”

Thompson told CNN that in his opening statement he will give “an acknowledgement that they (police officers) saved this democracy. That what they did was patriotic, heroic, and for that, this committee, and a number of members of Congress are grateful.”

On why he decided to have GOP Rep. Liz Cheney give an opening statement as well, Thompson said it was customary for a Democrat and a Republican to give an opening statement and they wanted to follow custom.

Thompson said “we offered that opportunity to her and she accepted,” describing the decision as “organic.”

Describing what it’s like to work with GOP Reps. Adam Kinzinger and Cheney on this committee, Thompson called it “sobering.”

“It was sobering to see Democrats and Republicans working for the common good. It used to be that way always, but it's been very divided. And this is one of the few times that I've had an opportunity to work on a controversial issue with the opposing party, and they both want the same thing," he said.

Thompson was asked to respond to a repeated attack from Republicans, led by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, that the select committee needs to look into what House Speaker Nancy Pelosi knew in the lead up to Jan. 6, and whether that was a legitimate line of inquiry.

“Democracy is about participation. And if for whatever reason, you choose not to participate, then you relegated it to sideshows. If the minority leader was genuinely interested in what the Speaker's office was involved in, join the committee," the Democrat said.

Asked whether the committee will subpoena Trump, Thompson said “I’ll follow the facts,” but when pressed on whether it was off the table, he said “it is not off the table.”

More on the committee's actions: Thompson said he was not going to rule out subpoenaing anyone yet, using his common trope that he will go wherever the facts lead, but said specifically that he is interested in looking at who else made phone calls to the White House that day.

Thompson said the next steps for the committee are “assembling data” and predicted that the recess would be busy for the committee, which he said would include a meeting with the Attorney General, something he has talked about doing before.

“I do assume that the recess for this committee will be a lot of work," he noted.

2:16 p.m. ET, July 27, 2021

McCarthy-Pelosi feud boils over as Jan. 6 select committee hearings begin

From CNN's Melanie Zanona and Manu Raju

The relationship between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy was never very warm. Now it's in the downright gutter.

After a whiplash week of power plays between the two party leaders over the Jan. 6 select committee, tensions are at an all-time high between the California lawmakers, and there are zero signs of that simmering down anytime soon — with both lambasting each other publicly and erupting at each other privately.

In a heated phone call last week, Pelosi informed McCarthy that she would reject two of his selections to the special House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack. Voices were raised, a source with knowledge of the matter said, and McCarthy protested, hinting the decision could come back to haunt her.

"What you're doing is unprecedented," McCarthy told Pelosi, according to a second source familiar with the call.

Publicly, Pelosi agreed.

"The unprecedented nature of Jan. 6th demands this unprecedented decision," Pelosi said, contending that McCarthy's selections of GOP Reps. Jim Banks of Indiana and Jim Jordan of Ohio would have undercut the integrity of the probe.

Pelosi is now plowing ahead with an investigation into the deadly Capitol riot, which could ensnare not only former President Trump but McCarthy himself and several of his GOP colleagues. The first hearing will come today, featuring testimony from police officers who responded to the attack. The speaker added more Republican firepower to the panel's roster on Sunday in Rep. Adam Kinzinger — another blow to McCarthy, who yanked all five of his selections from the panel last week and is trying to paint the probe as partisan as possible.

McCarthy, meanwhile, has ramped up his public attacks on Pelosi in pointedly personal terms after she rejected Jordan and Banks, calling her a "lame duck speaker" and accusing her of destroying the institution. And the GOP leader is now facing pressure from his right flank to take a symbolic — though doomed-to-fail — shot at Pelosi with a "motion to vacate the speaker's chair," which wouldn't succeed but would represent a dramatic escalation of the McCarthy-Pelosi feud.

Read the full story here.

2:17 p.m. ET, July 27, 2021

What the House's Jan. 6 select committee will do

From CNN's Jeremy Herb, Manu Raju, Ryan Nobles and Annie Grayer

The House voted at the end of June to create a select committee to investigate the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the US Capitol. This came after Senate Republicans blocked the formation of a bipartisan commission to probe the insurrection. Now the committee is getting ready to kick off its first official hearing.

The resolution passed in the chamber outlined some of the things the panel would do.

Here are key things to know about the committee:

  • What it will probe: The House’s select committee is expected to investigate both the security failings of the Jan. 6 attack — when pro-Trump rioters breached the Capitol and disrupted the certification of Joe Biden’s November 2020 victory — as well as the circumstances leading up to the attack. That’s likely to include an accounting of former President Trump’s role in spreading lies about the election being stolen, as well as some Republican lawmakers who supported efforts to overturn the election. The committee could also examine McCarthy’s conversation with Trump by phone as the attack was unfolding.
  • How it will be organized: According to the resolution, the committee would be made up of 13 members. Pelosi could appoint eight members to the commission and McCarthy had five slots "in consultation" with Pelosi — meaning the House speaker could veto his selections. McCarthy decided to withdraw all five of his 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. Pelosi appointed two Republicans to the committee — Rep. Liz Cheney and Rep. Adam Kinzinger. Their participation keeps the committee bipartisan even without anyone appointed by McCarthy. The select committee is run by House Democrats, has subpoena power and will not be given a strict deadline to finish its work.
  • What Republicans have said: Most House Republicans have criticized the select committee, accusing Democrats of creating a partisan panel that will be used to attack Trump. House GOP Whip Steve Scalise recommended House Republicans oppose the select committee. And several Republicans who voted in favor of the bipartisan commission legislation said they would vote against the select committee.

CNN's Daniella Diaz, Melanie Zanona and Aaron Pellish contributed reporting to this post.