The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection has wrapped its hearing, outlining what happened in the three-plus hours after former President Donald Trump finished his speech at the Ellipse, telling his supporters to march to the Capitol.
In a prime-time hearing on Thursday, the committee presented new evidence showing Trump's failure to act during the riot, heard live testimony from two former Trump aides who resigned over the attacks and showed clips from former White House counsel Pat Cipollone’s closed-door deposition earlier this month.
Committee member Rep. Elaine Luria, a Democrat from Virginia, said that Trump was taken back to the White House after his speech. She said “within 15 minutes of leaving the stage,” a White House aide told Trump the Capitol was under attack. She said witnesses told the committee that the then-President went to a dining room off the Oval Office where he watched Fox News for two and a half hours.
Several witnesses with first-hand knowledge of what was happening inside the White House on Jan. 6 told the committee that Trump did not place a single call to any of his law enforcement or national security officials as the Capitol attack was unfolding, according to previously unseen video testimony played during Thursday's hearing.
Sarah Matthews, a former Trump deputy press secretary, testified that Trump could have made a statement to Americans and stopped the violence “almost instantly” if he wanted to. She also testified that Trump was resisting sending a message of peace to rioters.
Here are the key moments from the hearing:
- Calls for action: The former White House counsel told the committee that he was joined by a number of top Trump advisers in pushing the former President to issue a strong condemnation of the attack. The group included Ivanka Trump and former chief of staff Mark Meadows, Cipollone said in a clip of his closed-door testimony earlier this month. Cipollone also implied Trump was alone in his opposition to taking further action to convince rioters at the US Capitol to disperse and go home.
- Trump’s outtakes: The committee played outtakes from footage of Trump’s video message to rioters on Jan. 6, 2021, showing that Trump wanted to claim that the vast majority of his supporters who had stormed the US Capitol were acting "peacefully." Ultimately, these remarks were not the remarks the President delivered in the Rose Garden, Rep. Luria said, referring to the video Trump eventually sent out telling his supporters, "We love you." The committee showed more outtakes from footage of Trump having difficulty working through efforts to tape a message to his supporters on Jan. 7, 2021, the day after the Capitol riot. Trump struggled to condemn the violence at the Capitol, and refused to say “the election is over,” according to the outtakes. The clips were part of a production of a speech where Trump refused to say the election results had not been settled and attempted to call the rioters patriots.
- Details on Pence’s frantic evacuation from the Senate: Former Vice President Mike Pence's security detail was so concerned for safety inside the Capitol as rioters broke into the building, that they "were starting to fear for their own lives," one committee witness said. The moments were so tense, "there were calls to say goodbye to family members," an unidentified national security professional told the committee in a recorded interview. The committee also revealed, for the first time, Secret Service radio traffic as agents assessed the Senate stairwell where Pence would be evacuated, while rioters were confronting police in a hallway downstairs at the same time. The video played Thursday spliced together the surveillance tapes with the security footage and sound of Pence's detail, bringing into focus how near a miss Pence and his detail experienced.
- Trump’s tweet about Pence: In her testimony, Matthews said the tweet was effectively a "green light" to rioters storming the Capitol. She went on to say, "I've seen the impact that his words have on his supporters. They truly latch on to every word and every tweet that he says." Matt Pottinger, a former National Security adviser, called the tweet essentially “fuel being poured on the fire" on the day of the insurrection.
- Trump’s last tweet on Jan. 6: The committee played several taped interviews with White House staffers denouncing Trump’s last tweet on Jan. 6, 2021, when he told rioters he loved them and that they should remember the day forever. “To my mind, it was a day that should be remembered in infamy. That wasn’t the tenor of this tweet,” Greg Jacob, former Vice President Mike Pence's chief counsel, told the committee. Matthews testified that the tweet cemented her decision to resign, calling Jan. 6 2021, “one of the darkest days in our nation's history.”
- Donald Trump Jr’s testimony: For the first time, the committee played audio of Trump Jr.’s closed-door deposition. In the testimony, the committee asked Trump Jr. about his texts with Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows during the insurrection. As CNN has previously reported, Trump Jr. texted Meadows that his dad has “got to condemn this sh*t ASAP,” and that his tweets in the earlier afternoon weren’t enough. Meadows told Trump Jr. that he agreed, and Trump Jr. replied, “this one you go to the mattresses on. They will try to f**k his entire legacy on this if it gets worse.”
- More hearings to come: Committee members said the panel is receiving an overwhelming amount of evidence and they struggled to fit everything within the time constraints of Thursday’s prime-time hearing and were forced to cut some things. Chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson said in taped remarks at the beginning of the hearing, after testing positive for Covid-19, that the hearings will reconvene in September.
Read takeaways from tonight's hearing here.