Jan. 6 committee holds first prime-time hearing

By Elise Hammond, Maureen Chowdhury and Melissa Macaya, CNN

Updated 5:15 p.m. ET, June 10, 2022
10 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
6:15 p.m. ET, June 9, 2022

The Justice Department has arrested more than 840 people in connection to the Jan. 6 Capitol attack

From CNN's Holmes Lybrand

Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as people try to storm the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.
Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as people try to storm the US Capitol on January 6, 2021. (Brent Stirton/Getty Images)

A day before the Jan. 6 House select committee was set to hold their first prime-time, public hearing, the Justice Department released an update on the progress of their investigation into the Capitol attack.

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.

In April, the estimated cost of damage done to the Capitol building and grounds during the riot increased from $1.5 million to $2.7 million, an amount slowly being paid for in part by convicted rioters who have agreed to pay restitution for the damage as part of plea agreements with the government.

So far, however, the total number of restitution and fines judges have ordered Jan. 6, 2021 rioters to pay is still under $240,000, according to CNN’s tally.

Roughly 305 rioters have pleaded guilty, 59 of whom have pleaded to felony charges. Of the seven Jan. 6 riot 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.” 

6:00 p.m. ET, June 9, 2022

Why chairing the Jan. 6 investigation is a full circle moment for Rep. Bennie Thompson

From CNN's Gloria Borger

Chairman Bennie Thompson, center, flanked by vice chairwoman Rep. Liz Cheney, right, and Rep. Zoe Lofgren, left, speaks as the House selects committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol meets to vote on contempt charges against former President Donald Trumps advisers Peter Navarro and Dan Scavino on Capitol Hill on March 28.
Chairman Bennie Thompson, center, flanked by vice chairwoman Rep. Liz Cheney, right, and Rep. Zoe Lofgren, left, speaks as the House selects committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol meets to vote on contempt charges against former President Donald Trumps advisers Peter Navarro and Dan Scavino on Capitol Hill on March 28. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post/Getty Images)

For Bennie Thompson, the invasion of the US Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, was a significant moment of déjà vu. From his perch in the House gallery above the chamber that day, he couldn't quite tell what was going on, until his wife phoned him to let him know what was unfolding on television. Then the Capitol Police came and instructed him — and other members — to crouch, and take off their congressional lapel pins, so they would not become targets for the intruders.

Thompson refused.

"People I know fought and died in this country for me to have the right to represent them and for them to have the right to vote," Thompson told CNN. "I'm not going to let any insurrectionist, rioter, crazy person come here and take this pin."

As a congressman from Mississippi, Thompson has been wearing a pin for 13 terms. He's the only Democrat and the only Black member of the Mississippi congressional delegation — representing one of the poorest districts in the country. He's also the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee and for the past year, chairman of the January 6th committee -- a job unlike any other in American history.

For Thompson, leading the Congressional investigation into the attack on the US Capitol comes with an unprecedented mandate of reminding voters how much was almost lost that day. "Our democracy is at stake," Thompson says. "We have to defend our democracy. We have to defend our government."

For Thompson, 74, chairing the Jan. 6 committee is also about how his own personal history has come full circle.

As a product of the Jim Crow south, Thompson sees the right to vote — and be counted accurately in a free and fair election — as his life's work.

Thompson's congressional colleagues understand the history. "It's an extraordinary arc in a political career," says Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, a January 6 committee member. "He had to struggle for representation at the local level, at the county level, at the federal level."

Indeed, as Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California, another January 6 committee member, points out, "It wasn't possible in his state for a person of color to be elected until voting rights legislation."

Reuben Anderson, a former Mississippi State Supreme Court Justice, agrees.

"So many Mississippians lost their lives over a the right to vote. That sticks with you for awhile," he said.

Or a lifetime.

In Washington, Thompson is "Mr. Chairman," but in his hometown of Bolton, Mississippi, he's still Bennie. Home every weekend, back to the same small town where he ran as mayor in the 1970s, Bennie is a regular presence in his district. His good friend, NAACP Chair Derrick Johnson, said Thompson's home office is like a town living room.

Keep reading here.

5:54 p.m. ET, June 9, 2022

The Jan. 6 hearings will be the panel's first chance to show the public what they've learned in their probe

From CNN's Marshall Cohen

Former President Donald Trump speaks at a rally on May 28 in Casper, Wyoming.
Former President Donald Trump speaks at a rally on May 28 in Casper, Wyoming. (Chet Strange/Getty Images)

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 January 6 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 January 6.

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. An avalanche of new information about January 6 has come to light since Trump's impeachment trial in February 2021, where he was acquitted of one count of "incitement of insurrection."

"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 earlier this week, adding that the committee "has found evidence of concerted planning and premediated activity" related to the events of January 6.
5:32 p.m. ET, June 9, 2022

Texts to Trump's former chief of staff are likely to come up in the Jan. 6 hearings. Here's what they say.

From CNN's Jamie Gangel, Jeremy Herb and Elizabeth Stuart

Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows speaks with reporters outside the White House in 2020. 
Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows speaks with reporters outside the White House in 2020.  (Patrick Semansky/AP/File)

Within minutes of the US Capitol breach on Jan. 6, 2021, messages began pouring into the cell phone of then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows. Among those texting were Republican members of Congress, former members of the Trump administration, GOP activists, Fox personalities — even the President's son.

CNN obtained the 2,319 text messages that Meadows selectively handed over in December before he stopped cooperating with the investigation. Meadows withheld more than 1,000 messages, claiming executive privilege, according to the committee.

Their texts all carried the same urgent plea: President Donald Trump needed to immediately denounce the violence and tell the mob to go home.

"He's got to condem (sic) this shit. Asap," Donald Trump Jr. texted at 2:53 p.m.
"POTUS needs to calm this shit down," GOP Rep. Jeff Duncan of South Carolina wrote at 3:04 p.m.
"TELL THEM TO GO HOME !!!" former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus messaged at 3:09 p.m.
"POTUS should go on air and defuse this. Extremely important," Tom Price, former Trump health and human services secretary and a former GOP representative from Georgia, texted at 3:13 p.m.
"Fix this now," wrote GOP Rep. Chip Roy of Texas at 3:15 p.m.

One of the key questions the Jan. 6 House committee is expected to raise in its June hearings is why Trump failed to publicly condemn the attack for hours, and whether that failure is proof of "dereliction of duty" and evidence that Trump tried to obstruct Congress' certification of the election.

The Meadows texts show that even those closest to the former President believed he had the power to stop the violence in real time.

Why these are important to the committee: The Meadows text logs present a dramatic timeline of how friends, colleagues and Republican allies were pleading for help on January 6, according to a source familiar with the committee's investigation

Rioters stormed police barriers around the Capitol just after 1 p.m. that day. The House and Senate fled their chambers around 2:20 p.m. Yet it took Trump until 4:17 p.m. to release a video on Twitter telling the rioters to go home.

The hearings are expected to focus on the gap of 187 minutes it took Trump to release the video — as well as highlight some of the most notable texts that Meadows received and sent that day.

The logs are not a complete record of Meadows' texts — he withheld more than 1,000 messages, claiming executive privilege, according to the committee. But the messages Meadows did hand over show his responses were often terse and emotionless, if he replied at all.

Read more about the timeline laid out in the text messages here.

5:35 p.m. ET, June 9, 2022

A former ABC News executive is working with the House committee to help produce hearings

From CNN's Ryan Nobles, Zachary Cohen and Annie Grayer

James Goldston, the former president of ABC News, will help produce the House select committee's upcoming hearings.
James Goldston, the former president of ABC News, will help produce the House select committee's upcoming hearings. (Ilya S. Savenok/IWMF/Getty Images)

The House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection at the US Capitol is working with a former ABC News television executive to help produce their upcoming hearings, according to a source familiar with the committee's plans.

James Goldston — the former president of ABC News who also served as a producer for some of the network's most successful news programs like "20/20," "Nightline" and "Good Morning America" — is helping the committee with the planning of the hearings and their presentation.

The committee has hopes of putting on hearings that don't look like traditional congressional proceedings, and instead are multimedia presentations that weave a narrative outlining the committee's findings. Their goal is to demonstrate how former President Donald Trump and his allies peddled a false narrative about the election that laid the groundwork for the riot at the Capitol.

Axios was the first to report of Goldston's role with the committee. A spokesperson for the committee told CNN they do not comment on personnel decisions.

5:26 p.m. ET, June 9, 2022

Wives and partner of officers who died in Jan. 6 attack are expected to attend first committee hearing

From CNN's Whitney Wild, Jessica Schneider and Jamie Gangel

Three women — the wives and long-time partner of the officers who died after responding to the Capitol attack — are expected to attend the first Jan. 6 committee hearing Thursday. Erin Smith, Sandra Garza and Serena Liebengood will be at the presentation in person, accompanied by Capitol police officers Harry Dunn, Daniel Hodges and Sgt. Aquilino Gonell.  

Erin Smith’s attorney confirmed she plans to attend, but does not plan to speak. Smith’s husband Jeffrey Smith was an officer with the Metropolitan Police Department. Officer Smith died nine days after responding to the Capitol attack. Video evidence showed Officer Smith was assaulted by the mob and hit in the head with a metal pole on Jan. 6, 2021. His death by suicide was declared a line of duty death in early March of this year.

Serena Liebengood is still fighting to have her husband’s death ruled in the line of duty. Capitol Police officer Howie Liebengood died by suicide in the days after Jan. 6. Serena Liebengood says he assisted with riot control during the attack and then worked long shifts in the days that followed. 

In a letter to Rep. Jennifer Wexton, a Democrat from Virginia, soon after his death in 2021 urging her husband’s death be declared in the line of duty, Serena Liebengood wrote: “Although he was severely sleep-deprived, he remained on duty — as he was directed — practically around the clock from January 6th through the 9th. On the evening of the 9th, he took his life at our home.”

Brian Sicknick, a US Capitol Police officer who died after the Jan. 6 insurrection, and his longtime partner, Sandra Garza.
Brian Sicknick, a US Capitol Police officer who died after the Jan. 6 insurrection, and his longtime partner, Sandra Garza. (Courtesy Sandra Garza)

Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick suffered two strokes and died of natural causes one day after he confronted rioters at the Capitol on Jan. 6, according to a ruling from DC’s chief medical examiner. His longtime partner Sandra Garza wrote an op-ed for CNN last June blasting Republican lawmakers who refused to acknowledge the gravity of the Capitol attack.

“Over and over they denied the monstrous acts committed by violent protestors….To know that some members of Congress — along with the former President, Donald Trump, who Brian and I once supported but who can only now be viewed as the mastermind of that horrible attack — are not acknowledging Brian’s heroism that day is unforgivable and un-American," Garza wrote.
5:19 p.m. ET, June 9, 2022

What to expect from the Jan. 6 hearings

From CNN's Paul LeBlanc

Chairman Bennie Thompson makes remarks during a House select committee meeting on December 1, 2021.
Chairman Bennie Thompson makes remarks during a House select committee meeting on December 1, 2021. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc/Getty Images)

More than 500 days removed from the violent attack on the US Capitol, the committee investigating it is ready to show its work.

The House select committee will hold the first of several public hearings on Thursday.

Sources told CNN this hearing will be a broad overview of the panel's 10-month investigation and set the stage for subsequent hearings, which are expected to cover certain topics or themes.

While the setup of the hearings has been a work in progress and evolving, sources note, the presentations will likely feature video clips from Jan. 6, as well as some of the roughly 1,000 interviews the committee has conducted behind closed doors.

Committee members have teased that the hearings could be focused on former President Donald Trump's direct role in undermining the election results.

Broadly, the panel has been working toward a thesis that Trump's obsession with the election loss and his peddling of false claims about the results is what laid the groundwork for the violent and deadly riot at the Capitol.

Will there be new information?

Yes, here's what an advisory from the committee said last week:

"The committee will present previously unseen material documenting January 6th, receive witness testimony, preview additional hearings, and provide the American people a summary of its findings about the coordinated, multi-step effort to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election and prevent the transfer of power," the panel said.

What witnesses might appear?

CNN has learned that two people directly tied to former Vice President Mike Pence are among those who have received invitations to appear. Former Pence chief counsel Greg Jacob and former federal Judge J. Michael Luttig have received outreach from the committee about their possible testimony.

In addition, CNN has also learned former Pence chief of staff Marc Short is expected to be called to testify.

All three men have already been interviewed privately by committee investigators. In some cases, their testimony has already been used by the committee as part of court filings and subpoena requests of other potential witnesses in their investigation.

The Jan. 6 House select committee announced that Thursday's hearing will include testimony from two witnesses who interacted directly with the Proud Boys during the riot at the Capitol.

How will these hearings compare to Trump's impeachment proceedings?

One source close to the committee told CNN that the panel has drawn on experiences from Trump's two impeachment proceedings. Those hearings have served as a model of both what to do and not to do.

A key difference to typical committee proceedings is that the Jan. 6 hearings will not feature the voices of prominent Trump supporters in Congress.

The panel's only two Republican members, Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, are both outspoken critics of Trump.

Keep reading about the Jan. 6 hearings here.

4:57 p.m. ET, June 9, 2022

Committee chair says hearing will show video testimony of those who've been charged for Jan. 6 

From CNN's Melanie Zanona and Annie Grayer

Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson, who chairs the House select committee investigating Jan. 6, told reporters some of the videotaped interviews that will be shown tonight will include individuals who have been charged for their actions on the day of the insurrection. 

“We will have significant video of some people who’ve been charged, some people who have been convicted, some people who pled guilty,” Thompson said. 

Thompson declined to say whether Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio, who has been charged with seditious conspiracy, would be among those featured. 

On Thursday, the committee plans to show previously unseen video of testimony collected during closed depositions that includes interviews with former President Donald Trump's White House aides, campaign officials and members of his family.

Thompson said it is still “under consideration” and still “a work in progress” whether the committee will show video of interviews from Trump family members tonight such as Ivanka Trump or Jared Kushner.  

Thompson continued to be vague about whether Greg Jacob, a top aide to former Vice President Mike Pence, would testify as a live witness during the committee’s hearings. 

“A lot of people have been on our list, and names go in and out based on whether or not there was agreement that they will come and agreement on the committee. So we’ve had a lot of people,” Thompson said.

But when asked if the committee has an agreement with Jacob, Thompson added, “I don’t want to say yes, but I know he’s been on the list.”

Thompson said tonight the committee “will systematically go through what we uncovered” and “kind of tease the other hearings in the process.”

4:57 p.m. ET, June 9, 2022

Ahead of the Jan. 6 hearings, Trump has been mobilizing his allies to defend him

From CNN's Melanie Zanona, Zachary Cohen and Ryan Nobles

Then-President Donald Trump speaks at a rally in Washington, DC on January 6, 2021.
Then-President Donald Trump speaks at a rally in Washington, DC on January 6, 2021. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP/File)

Former President Donald Trump has made it clear he is looking for cover from his closest allies around the upcoming public hearings by the House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection — and some prominent names in Congress and the Republican Party are answering the call.

Trump's team has communicated to some of his most loyal acolytes on Capitol Hill that the former President wants people vigorously defending him and pushing back on the select committee while the public hearings play out, according to GOP sources familiar with the request.

Committee members have teased that the hearings could be focused on Trump's direct role in undermining the election results. The committee has been working toward a thesis that Trump's obsession with losing the election and his peddling of false claims about the results is what laid the groundwork for the violent and deadly riot at the Capitol.

Trump's insistence that his allies defend his honor has mobilized Republicans both on and off the Hill into action, with a broad range of plans to protect him. This despite the belief by some Republicans that they should draw attention away from Jan. 6, 2021 and instead continue to beat the drum of the present day economic and cultural issues that have resonated with voters.

In Congress, the targeted response to the hearings will be overseen by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California, who has been coordinating the response effort with GOP members.

The California Republican is facing added pressure to show his support for Trump after he was caught on tape earlier this year criticizing the former President and some of his GOP colleagues in the immediate aftermath of the Capitol attack.

The main player in keeping Republicans on message will be House GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik of New York, who emerged as one of Trump's loudest defenders during his first impeachment and replaced Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney in Republican leadership. Sources say Stefanik will be tasked with coordinating the party's messaging response and ensuring key allies and surrogates have talking points.

"Just like impeachment, at the urging of President Trump and his team, Stefanik is going to play an outsized role defending President Trump and House Republicans on the issue of election integrity," said a senior GOP source.

Two members whom House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rejected from serving on the select committee will also play a key part on the messaging front: Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana, who chairs the conservative Republican Study Committee; and Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, who had a hand in the effort to overturn the 2020 election results.

Banks and other Republicans, including Rep. Rodney Davis of Illinois, the top Republican on the House Administration Committee, have also been working on their own counter investigation into the Jan. 6 insurrection that focuses squarely on the security failures from that day. Banks said they are putting the "finishing touches" on a report outlining their findings and expect it to be released in "a matter of weeks," which could coincide with the tail end of the select committee hearings.

Part of the challenge for Republicans — especially after they decided to boycott the select committee — is that they have little insight into what the investigation has uncovered and what might be revealed in the public hearings, making it harder for them to settle on a precise strategy.

Read more here.