Cheney unleashes on GOP colleagues who asked Trump for pardons after Jan 6: ‘Your dishonour will remain’

Select committee chairman Bennie Thompson opened Thursday’s prime-time hearing with a warning to Americans that the ‘conspiracy to thwart the will of the people’ which led to the 6 January 2021 attack on the Capitol remains ongoing

Jan 6 committee share never-before-seen footage of Capitol riot
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Rep Liz Cheney, vice-chair of the select committee investigating the January 6 attack on Congress, unleashed on her own party during the panel’s first hearing on Thursday.

“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,” Ms Cheney said, noting how a number of Republican lawmakers sought pardons from President Trump over the January 6 violence..

Rep Bennie Thompson, chairman of the House January 6 select committee, on Thursday opened the first of the panel’s hearings on the worst attack on the Capitol since 1814 with a stark warning: American democracy “remains in danger”.

In a statement delivered across most major US television networks to millions of viewers, Representative Bennie Thompson said America could not“sweep what happened” on 6 January 2021 “under the rug” as many of his Republican colleagues would wish, because the same types of threats that existed before that day remain extant.

“The conspiracy to thwart the will of the people is not over. There are those in this country who thirst for power but have no love or respect for what makes America great: devotion to the Constitution, allegiance to the rule of law, our shared journey to build a more perfect Union,” Mr Thompson said.

The select committee’s vice-chair, Wyoming Representative Liz Cheney, said Mr Trump welcomed the violence at the Capitol and “refused for hours ” to take any step to stop it despite being begged to do so by “his staff, his family, and many of his other advisers”.

Mr Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat, began his remarks by telling viewers that he grew up in a part of the country “where people justify the actions of slavery, Ku Klux Klan and lynching” and noted how even Abraham Lincoln had made his cabinet sign a memorandum memorialising his intention to cooperate with his opponent if he lost his re-election bid.

Every president had done the same, he said, until Donald Trump.

Mr Thompson said Mr Trump, rather than accept defeat in the 2020 election, “spurred a mob of domestic enemies of the Constitution to march down to the Capitol” in what the chairman described as “the culmination of an attempted coup”.

“Donald Trump was at the center of this conspiracy and ultimately, Donald Trump, the president of the United States, spurred a mob of domestic enemies of the constitution to March down the Capitol and subvert American democracy,” he said.

Ms Cheney delivered a meticulous speech describing that the panel will present chilling evidence that Mr Trump’s inaction was deliberate and was fueled by his “intention to remain President of the United States despite the lawful outcome of the 2020 election, and in violation of his constitutional obligation to relinquish power”.

“You will hear testimony that ‘the president did not really want to put anything out calling off the riot or asking his supporters to leave’. You will hear President Trump was yelling and really angry at advisor‘s who told him he needed to be doing something more,” she said. “And aware of the rioters chants to hang Mike Pence the president responded with this sentiment: ‘Maybe our supporters have the right idea. Mike Pence deserves it”.

Ms Cheney also promised that the panel would use its’ last two hearings to reveal evidence that Mr Trump “summoned a violent mob and directed them illegally to march on the United States Capitol” and then did nothing to stop them.

She said an 18 December 2020 tweet in which Mr Trump predicted that protests on 6 January “would be wild” came after an hours-long meeting with his attorney Rudolph Giuliani, conspiracy theorist and attorney Sidney Powell, and Michael Flynn, the disgraced former US army general who was his first national security adviser.

“The tweet led to the planning for what occurred on January 6, including by the Proud Boys, who ultimately led the invasion of the Capitol – of the US Capitol — and violence on that day,” she said.

And as Mr Trump watched the riot, Ms Cheney said he “not only ... refused to tell the mob to leave the Capitol” but “placed no call to ... instruct that the Capitol be defended”.

“He did not call his secretary of defense on January 6. He did not talk to his attorney general, he did not talk to the Department of Homeland Security,” she said. “President Trump gave no order to deploy the national guard that day, and he made no effort to work with the department of justice to coordinate and deploy law enforcement assets”.

Ms Cheney then played a recording of General Mark Miller, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recounting a meeting with Mr Trump’s then-chief of staff, Mark Meadows, in which Mr Meadows urged him to “establish the narrative” that it was Mr Trump — not Mr Pence — who contacted the Pentagon that day.

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