Jan. 6 hearing makes case Trump at 'center of this conspiracy' to overturn election

·9 min read
Jan. 6 hearing makes case Trump at 'center of this conspiracy' to overturn election

The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol held its first prime-time hearing on Thursday.

The hearing featured never-before-seen video footage and witness testimony as lawmakers aim to explain what they call a "coordinated, multi-step effort" by former President Donald Trump and his allies to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.


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Jun 9, 10:30 PM

'He called me there': Teasing next hearing, committee shows video of rioters voicing intent

Chairman Bennie Thompson wrapped up the hearing with a video compilation of rioters' interviews with the committee, with more than half-a-dozen Capitol rioters explaining in their own words why they marched on the Capitol last Jan. 6.

"Trump only asked me for two things," said Robert Schornack, who was arrested last March and pleaded guilty to a single misdemeanor last December. "He asked me for my vote, and he asked me for January 6th."

"He asked us to come to come to D.C. and said things are going to happen," said Daniel Herendeen," who pleaded guilty last year to illegally entering the Capitol.

PHOTO: Trump supporters participated in a rally, Jan. 6, 2021 in Washington. As Congress prepares to affirm President-elect Biden's victory, thousands have gathered to show their support for President Trump and his baseless claims of election fraud. (John Minchillo/AP, FILE)
PHOTO: Trump supporters participated in a rally, Jan. 6, 2021 in Washington. As Congress prepares to affirm President-elect Biden's victory, thousands have gathered to show their support for President Trump and his baseless claims of election fraud. (John Minchillo/AP, FILE)

Thompson closed by teasing the committee's next hearing, scheduled for Monday, June 13, at 10 a.m.

"We're going to examine the lies that convinced those men and others to storm the Capitol," he said.

-ABC News Benjamin Siegel and Alex Mallin


Jun 9, 10:24 PM

Historic hearing gavels out

In a nearly two-hour hearing in prime time, the House select committee placed Trump at the center of an "attempted coup" and "multistep conspiracy aimed at overturning the presidential election," with the panel's chairs emphasizing how Trump and his allies repeatedly tried to stop the peaceful transfer of power.

Never-before-seen footage and graphic testimony from a Capitol Police officer, who described the crowd as an "absolute war zone," brought some in the hearing room to tears, as the committee laid out how it will explain in subsequent hearings a "sophisticated seven-part plan" by Trump to steal the election.

PHOTO: Serena Liebengood, widow of Capitol Police officer Howie Liebengood, Sandra Garza, partner of fallen Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick and Capitol Police Sgt. Harry Dunn, watch a video of the Jan. 6 attack during a public hearing, June 9, 2022. (Andrew Harnik/AP)
PHOTO: Serena Liebengood, widow of Capitol Police officer Howie Liebengood, Sandra Garza, partner of fallen Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick and Capitol Police Sgt. Harry Dunn, watch a video of the Jan. 6 attack during a public hearing, June 9, 2022. (Andrew Harnik/AP)

Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., said the 11-month-long investigation with more than 1,000 interviews revealed that Trump was "well aware" of the violence at the Capitol and security risk to Vice President Mike Pence and lawmakers but chose to do nothing.

"Not only did President Trump refuse to tell the mob to leave the Capitol, he placed no call to any element to the United States government to instruct at the Capitol be defended," she said. "The vice president -- Pence -- did each of those things."

PHOTO: A police flash-bang grenade is used at 5:05 PM to disperse the remaining protesters at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Jan. 6, 2021. (Leah Millis/Reuters, FILE)
PHOTO: A police flash-bang grenade is used at 5:05 PM to disperse the remaining protesters at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Jan. 6, 2021. (Leah Millis/Reuters, FILE)


Jun 9, 10:30 PM

'It was carnage': Capitol Police officer recounts 'slipping in people's blood'

Capitol Police officer Caroline Edwards, who suffered a traumatic brain injury after rioters knocked her to the ground, described in detail what she called a "an absolute war zone" as officers struggled to hold the line.

"I can just remember my -- my breath catching in my throat, because I -- what I saw was just -- a war scene," she said. "It was something like I had seen out of the movies.

"I couldn’t believe my eyes. There were officers on the ground. You know, they were bleeding. They were throwing ... I saw friends with blood all over their faces. I was slipping in people's blood," she continued.

"I was catching people as they fell ... It was carnage. It was chaos. I can't even describe what I saw," she added. "Never in my wildest dreams did I think as as a police officer, as a law enforcement officer, I would find myself in the middle of a battle."


Jun 9, 9:56 PM

Video shows Capitol Police officer getting knocked unconscious

The committee aired a video showing the moment Capitol Police officer Caroline Edwards was knocked out as she tried to hold the line from a crowd of rioters pushing up against barricades and bike racks.

Edwards winced as the video began.

"I felt the bike rack come on top of my head and I was pushed backwards, and my foot caught the stair behind me, and my chin hit the handrail," she said. "At that point I blacked out but the back of my head clipped the concrete stairs behind me."

Edwards returned to duty after regaining consciousness, saying "adrenaline kicked in" as she went to the West Front of the Capitol to protect the Senate steps. There she helped people who had gotten pepper sprayed and others injured before she was hit herself with pepper spray and tear gas.

PHOTO: U.S. Capitol Police Officer Caroline Edwards is sworn in to testify before the U.S. House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the United States Capitol, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., June 9, 2022. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)
PHOTO: U.S. Capitol Police Officer Caroline Edwards is sworn in to testify before the U.S. House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the United States Capitol, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., June 9, 2022. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)


Jun 9, 9:54 PM

Documentarian notes Proud Boys went to Capitol before Trump spoke

Documentarian Nick Quested, who followed the Proud Boys through Washington as members of the extremist group marched on the Capitol and clashed with law enforcement, noted in his testimony that the group headed to the Capitol long before Trump spoke on the Ellipse.

"The was a large contingent, more than I would expect, and I was confused to a certain extent while we were walking away from the president's speech, because that's when I felt we were there to cover," Quested said.

Chairman Bennie Thompson emphasized that point to argue the Jan. 6 attack was not purely spontaneous but a "coordinated plan" and the "culmination of a months-long effort spearheaded by President Trump."

"They were not there for President Trump's speech," Thompson said of the hundreds of Proud Boys who descended on Washington. "We know this because they left that area to march toward the Capitol before the speech began."


Jun 9, 9:34 PM

Witness testimony begins, officer recounts insults hurled at her during attack

Capitol Police officer Caroline Edwards told lawmakers that her patriotism was called into question as she pushed back against rioters, sustaining a serious head injury in the process.

"I was called Nancy Pelosi's dog, called incompetent, called a hero and a villain," Edwards testified. "I was called a traitor to my country, my oath and my Constitution. In actuality, I was none of those things."

PHOTO: U.S. Capitol Police Officer Caroline Edwards and British filmmaker Nick Quested are sworn in during a House Select Committee hearing to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol, June 9, 2022, in Washington, D.C. (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)
PHOTO: U.S. Capitol Police Officer Caroline Edwards and British filmmaker Nick Quested are sworn in during a House Select Committee hearing to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol, June 9, 2022, in Washington, D.C. (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)

She continued, "I was an American standing face to face with other Americans asking myself how many times -- many, many times -- how we had gotten here."

Edwards recounted her own grandfather's experience fighting in the Korean war, telling lawmakers she will "gladly sacrifice everything to make sure that the America my grandfather defended is here for many years to come."


Jun 9, 9:32 PM

Cheney slams Kushner for downplaying resignation threats by WH lawyers as 'whining'

Among several clips of taped testimony with Trump aides, Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., played one of Jared Kushner telling the committee that he dismissed White House counsel Pat Cipollone's "multiple" threats to resign when asked if he was aware on any instances.

"Like I said, my interest at that time was on trying to get as many pardons done, and I know that he was always, him and the team, were always saying oh we are going to resign," Kushner said. "'We are not going to be here if this happens, if that happens' … . So, I kind of took it up to just be whining, to be honest with you."

Cheney slammed Kushner's response.

"Whining," she repeated.

"There is a reason why people serving in our government take an oath to the Constitution," she said. "And that oath must mean something."

-ABC News' Benjamin Siegel


Jun 9, 9:16 PM

Powerful video compilation prompts short recess

The House select committee played a 10-minute video compilation including never-before-seen footage of rioters violently breaching the Capitol overlaid with law enforcement officers calling for backup, and Trump calling the crowd "loving."

In chronological order, the video followed the timeline of the day: from Trump speaking at his "Save America" rally to the joint session of Congress being gaveled in -- leading up to rioters clashing with police and storming the Capitol, prompting lawmakers to take cover.

PHOTO: People gather in a park outside of the U.S. Capitol to watch the Jan. 6 House committee investigation in Washington, D.C., June 9, 2022. (Jose Luis Magana/AP)
PHOTO: People gather in a park outside of the U.S. Capitol to watch the Jan. 6 House committee investigation in Washington, D.C., June 9, 2022. (Jose Luis Magana/AP)

Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn, one of several officers in the hearing room who defended the Capitol, was seen wiping away tears before Chairman Bennie Thompson called a short recess.

Some members of Congress watching in the public seats teared up, clearly rocked with emotion by the horrific memory.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., held tissues in her hands. Around the hearing room, people shook their heads yet intently watched the footage.

PHOTO: Sandra Garza, partner of Brian Sicknick, cries as she attends the hearing of the U.S. House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the United States Capitol, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., June 9, 2022. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)
PHOTO: Sandra Garza, partner of Brian Sicknick, cries as she attends the hearing of the U.S. House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the United States Capitol, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., June 9, 2022. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

-ABC News' Katherine Faulders


Jun 9, 9:05 PM

Committee says multiple Republicans sought presidential pardons after attack

Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., said for the first time publicly that multiple Republican members of Congress reached out to the Trump White House to ask for presidential pardons in the wake of the Jan. 6 attack, including Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa.

"Multiple other Republican congressmen also sought presidential pardons for their roles in attempting to overturn the 2020 election," she added.

PHOTO: Trump supporters participated in a rally, Jan. 6, 2021 in Washington. As Congress prepares to affirm President-elect Biden's victory, thousands have gathered to show their support for President Trump and his baseless claims of election fraud. (John Minchillo/AP, FILE)
PHOTO: Trump supporters participated in a rally, Jan. 6, 2021 in Washington. As Congress prepares to affirm President-elect Biden's victory, thousands have gathered to show their support for President Trump and his baseless claims of election fraud. (John Minchillo/AP, FILE)

As with other House Republicans, Perry has refused to cooperate with the committee's investigation through voluntary requests and a congressional subpoena.

-ABC News' Katherine Faulders


Jun 9, 9:04 PM

Cheney issues warning to fellow Republicans

Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., had a message for her colleagues who continue to defend Trump and his false election claims.

"Tonight I say this to my Republican colleagues who are defending the indefensible: There will come a day when Donald Trump is gone, but your dishonor will remain," Cheney said.

PHOTO: Rep. Liz Cheney speaks during 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, D.C., on June 9, 2022. (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)
PHOTO: Rep. Liz Cheney speaks during 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, D.C., on June 9, 2022. (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)

Cheney also had a message for the American people as they watch these hearings unfold over the next several weeks.

"Please remember what is at stake," she said. "Remember the men and women who have fought and died so that we can live under the rule of law and not the rule of men."

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