The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection at the US Capitol just wrapped up its seventh public hearing.
The committee focused on the role of extremist groups and how the violent mob came together. The hearing explored the Trump administration's connections to these groups, such as the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers, ahead of the riot.
Jason Van Tatenhove, a former spokesperson for the Oath Keepers, and Stephen Ayres, who participated in the insurrection, testified. The hearing also featured clips from the deposition of former White House counsel Pat Cipollone.
Here are the key takeaways:
- Trump’s Dec. 19 tweet: Trump’s December tweet urged his followers to come to Washington, DC, on Jan. 6, 2021 for a “wild” and “big” protest. The tweet attracted some of his most extreme supporters, including followers of the QAnon conspiracy theory, White supremacists and other proponents of violence, according to witness interviews released by the committee. A former Twitter employee also testified that he was concerned that Trump seemed to be talking directly to extremists, but remained unchecked on the platform.
- Planning for the march: Trump planned days ahead of Jan. 6, 2021, to tell his supporters to march to the US Capitol from his rally on the National Mall, according to an unsent tweet intended for Trump's account. The committee used the tweet to show how the former President and his advisers were interested in sending crowds to Capitol Hill. Lawyers for Trump since the Jan. 6 attack have tried to argue his encouraging supporters to walk to the Capitol was political speech, and that he was not in control of the crowd nor responsible for the riot at the Capitol. "The evidence confirms that this was not a spontaneous call to action, but rather was a deliberate strategy decided upon in advance by the President," Rep. Stephanie Murphy said.
- Concerns about plans: A text message between a key organizer of the Jan. 6 rally and a top Trump ally — Kylie Kremer and Mike Lindell respectively — shows Kremer was concerned about making public well-established plans for a march from the Ellipse to the Capitol. “It can also not get out about the march because I will be in trouble with the national park service and all the agencies but POTUS is going to call for it ‘unexpectedly,’” she wrote to Lindell. Separately, Brad Parscale, Trump’s former campaign manager, privately said on Jan. 6, 2021, that Trump was “asking for civil war” and that he felt “guilty for helping him win,” according to text messages.
- Roger Stone and extremist groups: The committee zeroed in on Roger Stone’s connections to the far-right organizations, saying that “leaders in both the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers worked with Trump allies.” Figures in Trump’s circle, including Roger Stone and former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, hired the Oath Keepers as private security details and rallied with the Proud Boys, Raskin said. Stone also used encrypted chats to communicate with the leaders of both groups, according to the committee.
- Conceding the election: In clips from Cipollone’s deposition, he agreed with other Trump officials that there was not sufficient evidence of election fraud. Cipollone specifically testified that he believed Trump should've conceded the election. Many other Trump White House officials shared the view that once the litigation on alleged voting fraud ended and the Electoral College met, the election was over — including Ivanka Trump and former White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany.