Jan. 6 committee holds second hearing

By Elise Hammond, Aditi Sangal, Mike Hayes, Maureen Chowdhury, Melissa Macaya and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 6:59 p.m. ET, June 13, 2022
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10:46 a.m. ET, June 13, 2022

Ex-Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien will no longer appear before the Jan. 6 committee today

From CNN's Elizabeth Hartfield and Manu Raju

Then-campaign manager Bill Stepien stands alongside then-President Donald Trump aboard Air Force One in August 2020.
Then-campaign manager Bill Stepien stands alongside then-President Donald Trump aboard Air Force One in August 2020. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)

Former Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien will no longer be appearing in front of the Jan. 6 committee today "due to a family emergency," according to a release from the committee.

"Due to a family emergency, Mr. William Stepien is unable to testify before the Select Committee this morning. His counsel will appear and make a statement on the record," according to the release.

Stepien, who was at the center of former President Trump’s orbit as he sought to overturn the results of the 2020 election, was not eager to testify but did not want to defy a subpoena, a source familiar with his thinking told CNN's Kaitlan Collins.

Stepien's wife is in labor, a source familiar with the matter tells CNN, which is why the committee has released him from his subpoena for the day. 

Stepien was set to be one of five witnesses testifying before the panel Monday and was among the most high profile given his proximity to Trump and his campaign.

A source familiar with the Jan. 6 select committee’s plans says it is “disruptive” that Stepien isn’t testifying today, but argues that the committee will still be able to make their points.

The source says the committee has been prepared for such contingencies and has at its disposal deposition video clips from Stepien’s earlier testimony. The source said they have been pulling such video clips for all witnesses, in case an emergency arises or witnesses were unable to testify due to a Covid-19 complication.

Stepien’s lawyer Kevin Marino stopped at the witness door pool cam at before the hearing began and said Stepien was planning to appear under subpoena, but learned his wife went into labor. He said it’s his understanding video testimony of Stepien will be played today.

CNN's Annie Grayer contributed reporting to this post.

9:45 a.m. ET, June 13, 2022

Rep. Raskin says Garland knows "what's at stake" when it comes to possible DOJ indictment of Trump

From CNN's Daniella Diaz

US Representative Jamie Raskin attends a House Select Committee hearing to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the US Capitol, in the Cannon House Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on June 9.
US Representative Jamie Raskin attends a House Select Committee hearing to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the US Capitol, in the Cannon House Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on June 9. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Democrat who is on the Jan. 6 House select committee, said he believes Attorney General Merrick Garland knows "what's at stake here" when it comes to a possible indictment of former President Donald Trump from the Department of Justice.

"One of the conventions that was crushed during the Trump administration was respect by politicians for the independence of the law enforcement function," he told CNN's Dana Bash on "State of the Union." "Attorney General Garland is my constituent, and I don't browbeat my constituents. I think that he knows, his staff knows, US attorneys know, what's at stake here. They know the importance of it but I think they are rightfully paying close attention to precedent in history as well as the facts of this case."

On the committee revealing this week that multiple Republican lawmakers sought pardons from then-President Donald Trump including Rep. Scott Perry, Raskin called it "shocking."

"It is multiple members of Congress, as the Vice-Chair said at our opening hearing, and all in due course, the details will surface," he said. "Everything we're doing is documented by evidence, unlike the Big Lie, which is based on nonsense as a former Attorney General Barr said, everything that we're doing is based on facts."

Raskin also said one of the goals of the hearings is to prove to "any reasonable, open-minded person" that Trump knew he'd lost the election and wanted to overturn the results anyway. 

"He was surrounded by lawyers, including the Attorney General of the United States William Barr, telling him in no uncertain terms in terms that Donald Trump could understand, this is BS," Raskin said. "He heard it from the White House counsel, he heard it from all of the lawyers who threatened to resign if he staged his little mini coup against the Department of Justice by installing someone that would go along with his fairy tale about their having been electoral fraud and corruption."

"I think any reasonable person in America will tell you he had to have known he was spreading a big lie," he added. "He continues to spread it to this very day."

8:51 a.m. ET, June 13, 2022

Analysis: These questions still need to be answered during the remaining Jan. 6 public hearings

Analysis from CNN's Zachary B. Wolf

Perhaps the most compelling and damning moment at the first prime-time hearing of the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection came at the end.

In a heavily edited montage of video from official testimony and social media, participants in the riot said they had come to protest the 2020 election results and had stormed the Capitol because Donald Trump asked them to.

This is the crux of the committee’s charge, to show that the former President, in his actions and his words, incited the 2021 riot, which was a violent attempt to stop Joe Biden’s election victory from being recognized by the Electoral College.

For how compelling the first prime-time hearing was – and parts of it were arresting – it leaves major holes for the committee to fill in during the remaining public hearings.

Here are some of the questions that still need answering:

Where is the full testimony?

Seeing a few seconds of Kushner sneering at the idea of White House lawyers quitting is one thing. The public should also see the totality of his testimony.

The same goes for Ivanka Trump, Barr and other recognizable members of the Trump administration.

CNN’s Kaitlan Collins and Gabby Orr wrote that those still in Trump’s orbit or trying to maintain their relationships with him will say their testimony was taken out of context in the short clips released by the committee.

More should be released. House select committee Chairman Bennie Thompson told CNN’s Jake Tapper the committee plans to release transcripts, but he did not give more information.

Is there a direct link between Trump and planning for the riot?

Rep. Liz Cheney, vice chair of the committee, promised that hearings in the coming days will show Trump is directly responsible for the riot – which is an important charge, since Trump has argued he had nothing to do with it.

“President Trump summoned the mob, assembled the mob and lit the flame of this attack,” the Wyoming Republican said in her opening statement. Trump did not intend to give up power, regardless of what it says in the Constitution.

Is there enough evidence for new prosecutions?

These hearings will create a fact base for the insurrection, which is important, but will not themselves create accountability for Trump or his inner circle.

The former President has already survived impeachment twice, which means he can run for president again. All indications are that he plans to.

It is not clear, as we wrote earlier, when or if the Department of Justice will move beyond prosecutions of rally participants to focus on efforts to undermine the election.

CNN’s Evan Perez and Edward-Isaac Dovere wrote before the hearing that Attorney General Merrick Garland was planning to watch but that many Democrats think Garland may have missed his moment to prosecute people from Trump’s circle.

That will remain the biggest question of these hearings – what will come of them? The Department of Justice will need to try to avoid the appearance of influencing the midterm elections by bringing cases just before November.

Read the rest here:

8:41 a.m. ET, June 13, 2022

Jan. 6 committee chair: Witnesses have described conversations between extremists and Trump's orbit

From CNN's Paul LeBlanc, Jeremy Herb and Katelyn Polantz

Rep. Bennie Thompson, the Democratic chairman of the House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol is seen on June 9.
Rep. Bennie Thompson, the Democratic chairman of the House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol is seen on June 9. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

The Democratic chair of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol said Thursday that the panel will present witnesses describing conversations between extremist groups and members of former President Donald Trump's orbit.

Asked by CNN's Jake Tapper whether there was "going to be witnesses that describe actual conversations between these extremist groups and anyone in Trump's orbit?" Rep. Bennie Thompson responded: "Yes.

"Obviously, you'll have to go through the hearings, but we have a number of witnesses who have come forward that people have not talked to before, that will document a lot was going on in the Trump orbit while all of this was occurring," the Mississippi Democrat said.

Thompson did not elaborate on the nature of the conversations, though evidence gathered in the Justice Department's Oath Keepers and Proud Boys cases shows that both groups stuck close to some right-wing VIPs, especially those they believed they were providing volunteer "security" for on Jan. 5 and 6, 2021.

Joshua James, an Oath Keeper who has pleaded guilty to seditious conspiracy, chauffeured Roger Stone, for instance. Stone also has close ties to prominent members of the Proud Boys, going back years.

During the riot, some Oath Keepers discussed trying to help Republican Rep. Ronny Jackson — though they were not clear whom they were in touch with to learn about Jackson's status.

And according to another piece of evidence in the case against the Oath Keepers, a lawyer working with the group discussed being in touch with people around the Trump campaign on a recorded November 2020 conference call.

Yet not all the contacts are described so explicitly. One Oath Keeper said as part of his guilty plea that he witnessed group head Stewart Rhodes call an unnamed person the night of January 6, and ask to speak to Trump directly. The person didn't oblige.

Thompson's comments came after the panel held its first prime-time hearing, detailing the findings of its investigation and playing new video from closed-door depositions of members of Trump's team and depicting the violence at the Capitol. The committee introduced the American public to two of the most militant far-right extremist groups in the country, which were present on January 6: The Proud Boys and Oath Keepers.

Keep reading here.

8:34 a.m. ET, June 13, 2022

Biden on Jan. 6 hearings: "It's important the American people understand what truly happened"

From CNN's Sam Fossum and Maegan Vazquez

President Joe Biden speaks at the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles on Thursday, June 9.
President Joe Biden speaks at the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles on Thursday, June 9. (Evan Vucci/AP)

President Biden on Friday said the high-profile summer hearings of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection are "about democracy itself," stressing that it's important for Americans to understand what transpired.

"It's important the American people understand what truly happened and to understand that the same forces that led January 6 remain at work today," Biden — who has said he has not yet watched Thursday's first prime-time hearing himself — asserted at the top of his remarks at the Port of Los Angeles.

The President also said the hearings show "how the battle for the soul of America has been far from won."

"But I know together ... we can unite and defend this nation, Democrat and Republican, allow no one to place a dagger at the throat of our democracy," he continued. "That's what those hearings are all about. You're gonna hear a lot more."

On Thursday, Biden called actions taken on the day of the insurrection a "flagrant violation of the Constitution."

"I think it was a clear, flagrant violation of the Constitution. I think these guys and women broke the law -- tried to turn around a result of an election and there's a lot of questions, who's responsible, who's involved," Biden said, but added that he would not make a "judgment" on who was involved.

Read more here.

8:28 a.m. ET, June 13, 2022

Cheney said Trump had a "seven-part plan" to overturn the 2020 election. Here's what she meant.

From CNN's Dana Bash, Jake Tapper and Jeremy Herb

Vice Chair Liz Cheney speaks during a House Select Committee hearing to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the US Capitol on June 9.
Vice Chair Liz Cheney speaks during a House Select Committee hearing to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the US Capitol on June 9. ( Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

Former President Donald Trump had a "sophisticated seven-point plan" to overturn the 2020 presidential election over the course of several months, Jan. 6 committee Vice Chair Liz Cheney said, detailing how the panel plans to use its future hearings to tackle each part of the scheme.

"On the morning of January 6, President Donald Trump's intention was to remain president of the United States, despite the lawful outcome of the 2020 election and in violation of his Constitutional obligation to relinquish power," Cheney, a Wyoming Republican, said in her opening statement at Thursday's prime-time hearing.

Cheney did not detail the specific points of the plan in her opening statement. She said that the rioters who breached the Capitol and fought with police were motivated by Trump's actions falsely claiming that the election was stolen from him.

"President Trump summoned the mob, assembled the mob and lit the flame of this attack," Cheney said, echoing the statement she made in 2021 when she voted to impeach Trump.

A committee source later provided CNN the following description of the "sophisticated seven-part plan":

"President Trump oversaw a sophisticated seven-part plan to overturn the 2020 election and prevent the transition of presidential power.

  1. President Trump engaged in a massive effort to spread false and fraudulent information to the American public claiming the 2020 election was stolen from him.
  2. President Trump corruptly planned to replace the Acting Attorney General, so that the Department of Justice would support his fake election claims.
  3. President Trump corruptly pressured Vice President Pence to refuse to count certified electoral votes in violation of the US Constitution and the law.
  4. President Trump corruptly pressured state election officials, and state legislators, to change election results.
  5. President Trump's legal team and other Trump associates instructed Republicans in multiple states to create false electoral slates and transmit those slates to Congress and the National Archives.
  6. President Trump summoned and assembled a violent mob in Washington and directed them to march on the US Capitol.
  7. As the violence was underway, President Trump ignored multiple pleas for assistance and failed to take immediate action to stop the violence and instruct his supporters to leave the Capitol.

These are initial findings and the Select Committee's investigation is still ongoing. In addition, the Department of Justice is currently working with cooperating witnesses, and has disclosed to date only certain of the information it has identified from encrypted communications and other sources."

8:24 a.m. ET, June 13, 2022

Jan. 6 committee is zeroing in on Trump's role in insurrection and attempt to stop transfer of power

From CNN's Marshall Cohen

Former President Donald Trump speaks during a rally protesting the electoral college certification of Joe Biden as President in Washington, DC, on January 6, 2021.
Former President Donald Trump speaks during a rally protesting the electoral college certification of Joe Biden as President in Washington, DC, on January 6, 2021. (Evan Vucci/AP)

The House select committee investigating Jan. 6 is zeroing in on former President Donald Trump, and is preparing to use its platform to argue that he was responsible for grave abuses of power that nearly upended US democracy.

The committee's central mission has been to uncover the full scope of Trump's unprecedented attempt to stop the transfer of power to President Biden. This includes Trump's attempts to overturn his 2020 defeat by pressuring state and federal officials, and what committee members say was his "dereliction of duty" on Jan. 6, 2021, while his supporters ransacked the US Capitol.

Lawmakers will try to convict Trump in the court of public opinion — which is all they can do because it's not within their powers to actually indict Trump. But they have an emerging legal foundation to claim that Trump broke the law, thanks to a landmark court ruling from a federal judge who said it was "more likely than not" that Trump committed crimes regarding Jan. 6, 2021.

These highly choreographed hearings will be the panel's first opportunity to show the public what they've learned from more than 1,000 witness interviews and 135,000 documents.

"We are going to tell the story of a conspiracy to overturn the 2020 presidential election and block the transfer of power," Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Maryland Democrat who serves on the committee, told the Washington Post last week, adding that the committee "has found evidence of concerted planning and premediated activity" related to the events of January 6.

Read more about the committee's investigation here.

8:18 a.m. ET, June 13, 2022

Timeline: Here's how the events of the Jan. 6 insurrection unfolded

From CNN’s Ted Barrett, Manu Raju and Peter Nickeas

Demonstrators are seen at the US Capitol building on January 6, 2021.
Demonstrators are seen at the US Capitol building on January 6, 2021. (Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket/Getty Images)

The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection at the US Capitol is set to continue to lay out its findings during a public hearing this morning. When and how the events occurred that day have been a key part of their probe.

Supporters of then-President Trump breached the US Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, engulfing the building in chaos after Trump urged his supporters to protest against the ceremonial counting of the electoral votes to certify President Biden's win.

Here's how key events unfolded throughout the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, after Trump’s speech:

  • At 1:10 p.m. ET, while Congress began the process of affirming then-President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College win, Trump encouraged his supporters to protest at the US Capitol. Despite promising he would join them, Trump retreated to the White House in his SUV and watched on television as the violence unfolded on Capitol Hill.
  • Shortly after 1 p.m. ET, hundreds of pro-Trump protesters pushed through barriers set up along the perimeter of the Capitol, where they tussled with officers in full riot gear, some calling the officers "traitors" for doing their jobs.
  • About 90 minutes later, police said demonstrators got into the building and the doors to the House and Senate were being locked. Shortly after, the House floor was evacuated by police. Then-Vice President Mike Pence was also evacuated from the chamber, he was to perform his role in the counting of electoral votes.
  • An armed standoff took place at the House front door as of 3 p.m. ET, and police officers had their guns drawn at someone who was trying to breach it. A Trump supporter was also pictured standing at the Senate dais earlier in the afternoon.
  • The Senate floor was cleared of rioters as of 3:30 p.m. ET, and an officer told CNN that they had successfully squeezed them away from the Senate wing of the building and towards the Rotunda, and they were removing them out of the East and West doors of the Capitol.
  • The US Capitol Police worked to secure the second floor of the Capitol first, and were seen just before 5 p.m. ET pushing demonstrators off the steps on the east side of the building. 
  • With about 30 minutes to go before Washington, DC's 6 p.m. ET curfew, Washington police amassed in a long line to push the mob back from the Capitol grounds. It took until roughly 5:40 p.m. ET for the building to once again be secured, according to the sergeant-at-arms.
  • Lawmakers began returning to the Capitol after the building was secured and made it clear that they intended to resume their intended business — namely, confirming Biden's win over Trump by counting the votes in the Electoral College.
  • Proceedings resumed at about 8 p.m. ET with Pence — who never left the Capitol, according to his press secretary — bringing the Senate session back into order.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement earlier on the evening of Jan. 6 that congressional leadership wanted to continue with the joint session that night.

Then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on the floor that the "United States Senate will not be intimidated. We will not be kept out of this chamber by thugs, mobs or threats."

It took until deep in the early hours of Thursday morning (Jan. 7, 2021), but Congress eventually counted and certified Biden's election win.

See the full timeline of events here.

8:10 a.m. ET, June 13, 2022

Justice Department prosecutors are watching the hearings for new evidence

From CNN's Evan Perez and Hannah Rabinowitz

A video image displaying the US Capitol grounds being breached is seen during the Jan. 6 hearing on June 9.
A video image displaying the US Capitol grounds being breached is seen during the Jan. 6 hearing on June 9. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

CNN reported last Thursday that Justice Department officials are watching the House select committee Jan. 6 hearings for what kind of possible crimes the committee believes it has uncovered.

It’s possible at the end of the committee’s investigation, it makes criminal referrals, or something less formal by turning over evidence that prosecutors could examine. 

While the committee cannot bring legal charges against former President Trump, Chairman Bennie Thompson said the committee will cooperate with the DOJ.

During a hearing for the criminal case against the Proud Boys last week, Justice Department prosecutors said that the committee is planning to release all 1,000 witness transcripts from its investigation in early September, coinciding with the trial of five Proud Boys charged with seditious conspiracy for their involvement in the riot.

Officials are mindful that some members of the committee have been critical of the pace of the DOJ investigation.

But they believe that criticism is outdated. Recent subpoenas looking into the “alternate electors” scheme and ties to the Trump campaign, as well as other indications prosecutors are looking beyond the rioters and focusing on people who helped instigate the events of Jan. 6, 2021.

Where things stand in the DOJ investigation: Seventeen months after the riot, the Justice Department has arrested over 840 individuals, charging roughly 255 with assaulting, resisting or impeding officers that day – 90 of whom are charged with using a weapon or causing serious injury to an officer.  

According to the Justice Department, over 50 defendants have been charged with conspiracy, ranging from conspiring to obstruct a congressional proceeding to conspiring to obstruct law enforcement.

Sixteen individuals – members of the far-right groups the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers – have been charged with seditious conspiracy for their alleged actions that day, three of whom have pleaded guilty to the charge.

Roughly 305 rioters have pleaded guilty, 59 of whom have pleaded to felony charges. Of the seven January 6 cases that have gone to trial, all but one has been found guilty.

But the investigation is not close to being over. The Justice Department is still looking for over 350 individuals who they say “committed violent acts on Capitol grounds.” 

CNN's Holmes Lybrand contributed reporting to this post.