January 6 hearing will focus on Trump’s ‘siren call’ to violent extremists

On December 19, 2020, President Donald Trump tweeted one of his many baseless claims regarding the presidential election, alleging it was “statistically impossible” for him to have lost to Joe Biden and alerting his supporters of a demonstration in Washington in the coming weeks.

“Big protest in DC Jan 6,” Trump tweeted at the time. “Be there, will be wild!”

This tweet would serve as an invitation to far-right activist groups such as the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers as well as other violent extremists who were part of the pro-Trump mob that invaded the US Capitol in an attempt to block Biden’s certification. Electoral College victory, members of the House Select Committee investigating the insurgency said Sunday.

The effect of that tweet — along with other messages from Trump and his allies — will be explored this week as the committee resumes its public hearings. Tuesday’s session will focus on Trump’s ties to these far-right and political extremist groups.

“People are going to hear the story of this tweet and then the explosive effect it had in Trumpworld, and especially among domestic violent extremist groups, the most dangerous political extremists in the country at this time,” said Rep. Jamie B. Raskin. (D-Md.) said on CBS News’ “Face the Nation.”

Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Florida), who is scheduled to lead Tuesday’s hearing with Raskin, said on NBC News’ “Meet the Press” that the Dec. 19 tweet was a “siren call” to those groups that the January 6 to be a “last bastion” to keep Trump in power.

Trump had already mounted a broad and ongoing pressure campaign — on Vice President Mike Pence, the Justice Department and state election officials — to help overturn the election results, she added, and his tweet amounted to a call for these violent groups to provide “additional information”. support” until January 6.

Committee members also confirmed on Sunday that they had received a letter from an attorney for former Trump chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon stating that Bannon would waive his claim for executive privilege and testify at a public hearing. . Bannon was charged with contempt of Congress last year after he refused to comply with the committee’s subpoena.

Bannon could still assert his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and could insist on conditions, such as testifying on live television rather than in closed-door deposition, that committee members might not want to agree to. .

Raskin said Sunday that the committee would be “very interested” in hearing from Bannon, but indicated that his initial testimony was unlikely to be made public.

Tuesday’s hearing will be the committee’s first since Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows, gave explosive testimony about Trump’s rage and inaction on the day of the Capitol attack. . Hutchinson testified on June 28 that Trump knew some of his supporters were armed but urged them to march on Capitol Hill anyway, and that Trump told Meadows to speak to some of his aides who had militia connections. far right.

Former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson testified June 28 about President Donald Trump’s actions surrounding the Jan. 6 Capitol attack. (Video: JM Rieger/The Washington Post, Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-California) said Sunday it would be “a logical conclusion” that Trump knew the crowd that day included members of those violent extremist groups.

“We’re going to connect the dots in these hearings between these groups and those in government circles trying to nullify the election,” Lofgren said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “So we think this story unfolds in a very serious and very believable way.”

Raskin, Murphy and Lofgren all indicated that testimony from former White House attorney Pat Cipollone would be played during the hearing. In a closed hearing on Friday, Cipollone testified before the committee for eight hours, providing information that “corroborated key elements of Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony,” committee spokesman Tim Mulvey said in a statement Sunday. a statement.

Hutchinson testified that Cipollone sought to block Trump from going to the Capitol on Jan. 6 with his supporters, fearing criminal liability and telling him “something to the effect of, ‘Please make sure we let’s not go up to the capitol, Cassidy . Keep in touch with me. We are going to be accused of every crime imaginable if we make this move happen.

Visual: Testimony of Cassidy Hutchinson

There was a lot of information in Cipollone’s testimony that “fits into this bigger puzzle” the committee is putting together, Murphy said Sunday.

“The general message we got from all of these witnesses is that the president knew he had lost the election, or that his advisers had told him he had lost the election, and that he was looking for ways to do so. . could retain power and remain president, despite the fact that the democratic will of the American people was for President Biden to be the next elected,” she said.

Former White House attorney Pat Cipollone arrived on Capitol Hill July 8 for closed-door testimony with the Jan. 6 select committee. (Video: The Washington Post)

The upcoming hearing will also address the “fundamental significance” of a Dec. 18, 2020, meeting of Trump allies that took place at the Willard Hotel in downtown Washington, according to Raskin.

During that meeting, a group of outside lawyers including Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani — dubbed “Team Crazy” by some in the Trump White House — discussed efforts to try to overturn the election results. Potential steps included seizing voting machines across the country, Raskin told “Face the Nation.”

“But against this ‘Team Crazy’ there was an internal group of lawyers who basically wanted (Trump) at that time to acknowledge that he had lost the election, and were much more willing to accept the reality of his defeat at that time,” Raskin said.

Twitter banned Trump from its platform after the Capitol attack, citing the risk of further violence.

Jacqueline Alemany and Isaac Stanley-Becker contributed to this report.

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