Four key questions for the January 6 committee hearings to answer

The select committee will unveil its findings over a series a public hearings which will begin Thursday at 8pm

Proud Boys Charged With Seditious Conspiracy In Capitol Riot

The House January 6 committee on Thursday will open what is expected to be a series of at least six hearings which the panel will use to “present previously unseen material documenting January 6th, receive witness testimony, and provide the American people an initial 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”.

Over the year and a half since a mob of former president Donald Trump supporters assaulted police officers and overran the seat of America’s legislative branch in hopes of stopping certification of Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory, the nine-member panel has amassed a staff of more than 40 personnel – including many investigators and former prosecutors – working in teams to untangle multiple lines of inquiry regarding the facts and circumstances which led to the worst attack on the Capitol since Major General Robert Ross ordered British troops to set it ablaze in 1814.

One team of investigators is looking into how Mr Trump’s efforts to promote lies regarding the conduct of the 2020 election were funded, and has focused on whether donors who contributed to groups claiming to be working to uncover election fraud were themselves defrauded.

Another team has been examining Mr Trump’s interactions with members of Congress who shared his goal of installing him in the White House for a second term against the wishes of voters, as well as the pressure campaign he mounted against state and local election officials and against Justice Department officials who determined there was no truth to his claims of fraud.

A third team of investigators is looking into the actions of violent pro-Trump extremist groups such as the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, as well as the actions of conspiracy theorists associated with Qanon, and a fourth team is examining the “Stop the Steal” movement spearheaded by pro-Trump operatives and the planning for the 6 January 2021 rally which preceded the Capitol attack.

While the select committee has made some of the evidence it has obtained public in court filings and in highly choreographed business meetings in recent months, the vast majority of what it has learned from the more than 1,000 witnesses who have given evidence and the thousands of documents it has examined remains shrouded in secrecy.

Here are some questions the panel will need to answer over the course of its’ public hearings:

How much contact did Trump administration figures have with extremist leaders?

Two days before Electoral College members met to cast their votes, Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio posted on the now-defunct social networking site Parler about receiving a “last minute invite to an undisclosed location”.

The location? The White House.

Although Trump administration officials claimed Mr Tarrio had merely taken a normal tour of the executive mansion, the White House, like most government buildings, was closed to tourists at the time due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. The extremist group leader also posted a photo which appeared to be taken on the White House’s South Portico, an area not usually open to visitors on the tour route.

The fact that someone such as Mr Tarrio was able to gain access to the White House raises the possibility that senior Trump White House officials – or Mr Trump himself – met with the Proud Boys leader in the weeks leading up to the attack.

Justice Department officials have also disclosed in court documents that Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes was in contact with a person he believed was able to put him in touch with Mr Trump on the day of the attack.

What did Trump administration officials know about plans for violence?

In January 2021, The Independent reported, based on conversations with ex-Trump White House and campaign officials, that then White House deputy chief of staff Dan Scavino oversaw a sprawling social media monitoring operation that had eyes into the explicitly pro-Trump social media sites such as Parler and TheDonald.win.

Mr Scavino and his team, one ex-White House staffer said, had fingers “on the pulse of any and everything that is unfolding [online] in Trumpworld” and would have seen the myriad calls and plans for violence that were in plain view on such sites in the run-up to January 6.

The ex-Trump White House official is one of several who was referred to the Justice Department for refusing to comply with a select committee subpoena, but the DOJ said last week that it would not be prosecuting him.

Without Mr Scavino’s testimony, the panel will have to comb through White House records to determine what he and Mr Trump knew and when they knew it.

Did members of Congress give rioters ‘reconnaissance tours’?

One enduring mystery from the days following the attack is that of the accusation levelled against GOP members by some of their Democratic colleagues who saw some Republicans leading tours on 5 January 2021, the day immediately prior to the attack.

Republicans on the House administration committee have denied that any member gave unauthorised tours to rioters, but last month the panel requested information from Georgia Representative Barry Loudermilk, who select committee chairman Bennie Thompson and vice-chair Liz Cheney say did give a tour the day before the riot.

Mr Thompson and Ms Cheney say the select committee has evidence which contradicts claims that no “reconnaissance tours” were given, and they will have to show what they know in order to answer questions about how some of the rioters appeared to have intimate knowledge of the labyrinthine Capitol complex.

What was Mr Trump doing during the riot?

According to public reports, Mr Trump watched the attack on the Capitol unfold from a private dining room just off the Oval Office.

He also reportedly reacted approvingly to rioters calls to hang then vice president Mike Pence after tweeting that Mr Pence didn’t “have the courage” to unilaterally hijack the certification process to install him in the White House for a second term.

The select committee has also reportedly obtained testimony and evidence detailing more of Mr Trump’s actions and movements during the hours before he filmed a bizarre video telling the rioters to go home after calling them “very special”.

They will have to use that evidence to explain what – if anything – Mr Trump did to stop the violence that day.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in