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Capitol riot hearing: Officer compares Trump to ‘hitman’ as Taylor Greene presser descends into chaos

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Andrew Naughtie,Justin Vallejo
Wednesday 28 July 2021 00:53

The 6 January Select Committee is holding its first hearing

After months of buildup, today marked the first public hearing of the Select Committee to Investigate the 6 January riot at the US Capitol.

The panel heard from law officers from the US Capitol Police and Washington’s Metropolitan Police Department. “Hero” officer Harry Dunn, who led the mob away during the 6 Capitol riot, described how he and his fellow officers were subjected to a torrent of racial abuse, including the “n-word”.

Liz Cheney, one of two Republicans selected by Nancy Pelosi on the committee, called her colleagues including Marjorie Taylor Greene and Matt Gaetz a "disgrace" for holding a counter-event to support rioters still held in prison.

The other Republican on the committee, Adam Kinzinger, broke down in tears after hearing the officers recount their experience of the day while Jamie Raskin, who lead the unsuccessful impeachment of Donald Trump, called his supporters "fascist traitors".

While Joe Biden was too busy to watch proceedings (according to Jen Psaki), Donald Trump wasted no time in bemoaning the "fake" hearing as a waste of time.


Good morning

Welcome to our live coverage of the first hearing of the 6 January select committee. Stay tuned for updates.

Andrew Naughtie27 July 2021 08:34

Who’s on the panel?

The select committee is being headed up by Bennie Thompson, who also serves as the chair of the House Homeland Security committee. The House’s only serving Democrat from Mississippi, the 73-year-old congressman is not seen as a partisan warrior and has the respect of many Republican colleagues.​

'We have to get it right,' Dem vows as Jan. 6 probe begins

Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson is about to pick up his duties as chairman of a select committee to investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection

Alongside Republicans Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, Mr Thompson is backed up by six other Democrats, among them two prominent figures from the Trump era: Adam Schiff, who led the first impeachment investigation into Donald Trump over his alleged Russian links and extortion of the Ukrainian government; and Jamie Raskin, the lead impeachment manager at the former president’s Senate trial after the insurrection.

Filling out the Democratic team are Californa’s Zoe Lofgren and Pete Auguilar, Virginia’s Elaine Luria and Florida’s Stephanie Murphy.

Andrew Naughtie27 July 2021 09:00

Right-wing Republicans to protest treatment of alleged rioters

As the committee’s work gets underway, four of the most Trump-friendly Republicans in the House will be holding an event of their own – and not in solidarity with the panel’s work.

Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene, who have recently been on a fundraising speaking tour of the country, will be joined by Paul Gosar and Louie Gohmert at a press conference where they will “demand answers” from the Justice Department on the status of those arrested for their alleged part in the riot.

Mr Gaetz, notorious for his belligerent style, not only voted to oppose the certification of the election results after the riot but also suggested on the day itself that left-wing protesters might have infiltrated the crowd. Ms Greene, meanwhile, is even more given to conspiracy theories, including violent ones, and posed with members of a local militia movement during her run for Congress.

And for his part, Mr Gosar has been the focus of intense controversy for accusing Capitol Police of “lying in wait” for Ashli Babbitt, one of the four rioters who died that day. Liz Cheney laid into him over the comments, saying she had helped him put on his gas mask while the insurrection was underway.

Liz Cheney rips Paul Gosar over comments about Capitol Police

Controversial Republican had previously described rioters as ‘peaceful patriots’

Andrew Naughtie27 July 2021 09:30

Take your seats: where the committee will meet

NBC Washington reporter Scott MacFarlane, who has covered the fallout from the insurrection extensively, last night posted a walkthrough of the room where the committee’s first hearing will be held.

Andrew Naughtie27 July 2021 09:49

How Adam Kinzinger joined the committee

By asking Liz Cheney to serve when the select committee was first created, Nancy Pelosi achieved two things: she guaranteed the committee would be bipartisan, and she also ensured it would be quorate – meaning that when she rejected two of the GOP’s nominees and Kevin McCarthy withdrew all five, the panel could proceed with its work anyway.

Nonetheless, Ms Pelosi also tapped Adam Kinzinger to join. He and Ms Cheney were the only two Republicans to vote in favour of establishing the committee, and he has been one of Mr Trump’s most caustic Republican critics in Washington for years.

Accepting Ms Pelosi’s invitation on Sunday, Mr Kinzinger released a statement explaining why he said yes:

“Self-governance requires accountability and responsibility. My faith requires the same of me, truth is necessary for order, and that’s what I will do. Let me be clear, I’m a Republican dedicated to conservative values, but I swore an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution – and while this is not the position I expected to be in or sought out, when duty calls, I will always answer.”

Read more below.

Pelosi appoints Republican Adam Kinzinger to Capitol riot committee

Kinzinger is second Republican, after Liz Cheney, to confirm participation

Andrew Naughtie27 July 2021 10:15

Questions raised about committee’s power

The select committee technically has subpoena power, meaning it can legally compel people to testify or submit information. But as pointed out by Duty to Warn, a group of mental health professionals who joined together to demonstrate that Donald Trump was not psychologically fit for office, enforcing subpoenas is easier said than done.

Among those who may be subpoenaed are sitting and former members of Congress, with rumours circulating since 6 January itself that some may have helped facilitate or even plan the attack.

According to the Washington Post’s Jacqueline Alemany, the fact that the Justice Department is led by a Democratic-appointed attorney general improves the committee’s chances of getting to see the witnesses and information it wants.

Andrew Naughtie27 July 2021 10:42

Who is Officer Harry Dunn?

Of the four witnesses appearing before the select committee today, one of the most pivotal is Harry Dunn, a Capitol Police officer who claims he was called the N-word while defending lawmakers against rioters who had stormed the Capitol.

Mr Dunn, who has served in law enforcement for some 13 years, has said in interviews that the Black officers who served on 6 January had a fundamentally different experience that day because of the implicit and explicit racism of many in the crowd – some of whom were carrying Confederate flags and were members of racist extremist groups.

Mr Dunn’s outspokenness since the insurrection has infuriated some on the right, including Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who recently branded him an “angry, left-wing political activist” and warned viewers that he has “very little in common with your average cop”. Mr Dunn’s lawyers responded by pointing out that Mr Carlson has never served in any uniform of any kind.

Harry Dunn’s lawyers hit out at Tucker Carlson after he brands Capitol police officer ‘angry’ activist

The officer will testify at a 27 July hearing investigating the Capitol riot

Andrew Naughtie27 July 2021 11:09

FBI veteran: further political violence “a matter of time"

While some on the right are trying to present the 6 January insurrection as an anomaly, others are cautioning that it could be anything but. Peter Strzok, a 26-year counterintelligence veteran of the FBI, last night told MSNBC’s Deadline White House that given the ideas and conspiracy theories that are being shared on the American right, serious violence could well be in the offing.

As he pointed out, it’s not a matter of how many Americans are susceptible to these messages. “You don’t need most people. You need one, or two, or three, or five people and I do think it’s a matter of time, unfortunately, before we see deadly violence.”

Andrew Naughtie27 July 2021 11:40

When Michael Fanone met Kevin McCarthy

The select committee today will hear from Michael Fanone, an officer with the Washington Metropolitan Police, who was brutalised by rioters on 6 January – and who has since lobbied Congress heavily to fully recognise what happened to him and his fellow officers that day. His efforts have included meetings with top Republicans, something that has proved to be quite a challenge.

In June, Officer Fanone finally managed to secure a meeting with Kevin McCarthy after disputing the minority leader’s claim that his office had reached out to schedule one. Emerging from their encounter, he was not upbeat about it.

Footage from Officer Fanone’s body camera shows him being severely beaten by protesters who dragged him onto the Capitol steps.

Andrew Naughtie27 July 2021 12:10

Videos of insurrection defendants compiled for easy viewing

The nonprofit news site ProPublica, which specialises in investigative journalism, has compiled the 6 January video footage it has been able to obtain from the Department of Justice and posted it on one handy page, sorted by case. The footage is being introduced as evidence in cases against hundreds of alleged rioters.

Andrew Naughtie27 July 2021 12:40

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