The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack spent more than 15 hours presenting their findings over eight hearings this summer, culminating in Thursday night’s prime-time presentation.
JUNE 9: The Big Picture
Trump was complacent about Hang Mike Pence chants
In her opening statement at the much-watched first hearing, committee Vice Chair Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) revealed that witnesses who spoke to the committee described former President Trump showing little regard for the safety of his vice president when learning about the mood at the Capitol, where rioters were calling to “hang Mike Pence.”
“Maybe our supporters have the right idea,” Trump said. He went on to add that Pence “deserves” it.
Perry, among multiple lawmakers, sought pardon from Trump
Cheney also revealed that Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.) was among the lawmakers who sought a pardon from Trump “in the weeks after Jan. 6.”
Perry introduced Trump to Jeffrey Clark, a Justice Department lawyer he weighed installing as attorney general because he was willing to forward an investigation into voter fraud.
JUNE 13: Trump was told he lost the election but pushed voter fraud claims
“My recommendation was to say that votes are still being counted. It’s too early to tell, too early to call the race,” Trump campaign manager told Trump the night of the election, according to video from his deposition with the committee’s investigators.
A number of other aides also stepped forward to say the campaign was unable to find any evidence of widespread voter fraud, despite Trump’s claims.
Barr questioned Trump’s mental state
The committee played numerous clips from a deposition with former Attorney General William Barr, who dished on his blunt assessment to Trump that there was no voter fraud, including telling him such claims were “bullshit.”
“I was somewhat demoralized because I thought, ‘Boy, if he really believes this stuff he has, you know, lost contact with — he’s become detached from reality if he really believes this stuff,” Barr said.
JUNE 16: Pence pushed back against illegal and unconstitutional plan
Eastman admitted that plan may be illegal
Former Pence counsel Greg Jacob told lawmakers about a meeting with Trump campaign attorney John Eastman on Jan. 4, noting that Trump may have been present.
“So during that meeting on the 4th, I think I raised the problem that both of Mr. Eastman’s proposals would violate several provisions of the Electoral Count Act. Mr. Eastman acknowledged that that was the case, that even what he viewed as the more politically palatable option would violate several provisions,” Jacob said.
Eastman was willing to do so, Jacob said, “because in his view the Electoral Act was unconstitutional” and thought the courts “simply wouldn’t get involved.”
Eastman refuted his own legal advice and asked for a pardon
The committee shared a never-before-seen October draft document prepared for Trump that Eastman redlined that refuted his own legal argument that the vice president has the power to single-handedly reject electoral votes. “Nowhere does [the Constitution] suggest that the President of the Senate gets to make the determination on his own,” Eastman noted.
At other points leading up to and after the attack, he acknowledged how his plan would be a “relatively minor violation” and said he wouldn’t approve of Vice President Harris making such a move. After Jan. 6, he emailed fellow campaign attorney Rudy Giuliani with a request: “I’ve decided that I should be on the pardon list if that is still in the works.”
Rioters came within 40 feet of Pence
After Pence was brought to a secure location at the Capitol, he remained there for four hours, where Jacobs said they could hear rioters nearby. “Approximately 40 feet — that’s all there was between the vice president and the mob,” Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.) said during the hearing.
JUNE 21: Trump and campaign put pressure on state-level officials
Giuliani acknowledged lack of “evidence”
Arizona Speaker of the House Rusty Bowers (R) said Giuliani and other Trump campaign lawyers repeatedly failed to provide the evidence they claimed to have of widespread voting fraud. “[Giuliani] said, ‘We’ve got lots of theories. We just don’t have the evidence,’” Bowers said. “And I don’t know if that was a gaffe or maybe he didn’t think through what he said.”
Lawmakers were working as late as Jan. 6 to advance the fake electors scheme
Two lawmakers were involved in forwarding the false elector scheme as late as the morning of Jan. 6, 2021: Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.). Johnson tried to hand-deliver two of the certificates to Pence as he arrived at the Capitol that morning to oversee the electoral vote count. “Johnson needs to hand something to VPOTUS please advise. … Alternate slate of electors for MI and WI because archivist didn’t receive them,” Johnson aide Sean Riley texted to a Pence staffer in an exchange the committee displayed. “Do not give that to him,” Chris Hodgson, Pence’s aide, responded.
A spokeswoman for Johnson tweeted later that Johnson had “no foreknowledge” of the scheme and called the texts “a staff to staff exchange.” Bowers also testified that he heard from Biggs that morning. “He asked if I would sign on both to a letter that had been sent from my state, and/or that I would support the decertification of the electors,” Bowers said. “I said I would not,” he added.
The White House contacted Georgia officials 18 times to set up infamous Trump-Raffensperger call
“The White House, including the former president’s chief of staff Mark Meadows, repeatedly called or texted the secretary’s office some 18 times in order to set up this call,” Cheney said during the hearing, referring to Trump’s phone call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) in which Trump asked Raffensperger to “find” votes for him.
Cleta Mitchell said fake elector scheme may have been hatched before the election
The Trump campaign’s focus on fake electors, much like the former president’s claims of election fraud, may have been hatched even before the election. “Right after the election. It might have been before the election,” Cleta Mitchell, a Trump campaign-aligned lawyer, said when asked when the idea first surfaced.
30 people have pleaded the Fifth
While the committee has interviewed more than 1,000 people, Cheney said 30 had chosen to exercise their right against self-incrimination, a group that includes Eastman and Trump confidant Roger Stone.
JUNE 23: DOJ and White House lawyers fought Trump plan to install new attorney general
Clark was favored by the campaign because he wasn’t concerned with his reputation
Trump weighed installing Clark, a Justice Department lawyer specializing in environmental law, as attorney general because he was willing to send a letter to Georgia and other states asking that they stall certification of their election results so that the agency could investigate baseless claims of voter fraud.
Giuliani said part of why they landed on Clark was because “somebody should be put in charge of the Justice Department who isn’t frightened of what’s going to be done to their reputation, because Justice Department was filled with people like that.”
White House visitor logs indicate Trump met Clark on Dec. 22, after an introduction by Perry, the day after the president held a meeting with lawmakers to hone a strategy to “fight back against mounting evidence of voter fraud,” according to a tweet from Meadows.
There was a connection between Eastman and Clark
Kenneth Klukowski began serving at the Justice Department just 36 days before President Biden’s inauguration, joining Clark’s staff on Dec. 15, 2020. Cheney said that Klukowski had been working with Eastman prior to joining the department and showed evidence suggesting their relationship continued while Klukowski was working under Clark.
She presented a Dec. 28 email from Trump ally Ken Blackwell requesting that Pence receive a briefing from Klukowski and Eastman and warning “to make sure we don’t over expose Ken given his new position.”
“This email suggests that Mr. Klukowski was simultaneously working with Jeffrey Clark to draft the proposed letter to Georgia officials to overturn their certified election and working with Dr. Eastman to help pressure the Vice President to overturn the election,” Cheney said.
Clark had secured the job — before DOJ and White House lawyers changed Trump’s mind
Clark and Trump spoke multiple times on Jan. 3 ahead of the explosive late evening meeting that would convince him to shift his plan. At that 6 p.m. meeting, the Justice Department’s top leadership as well as White House staff were able to successfully convince Trump to abandon his plans, stressing that he would face mass resignations that would overshadow any investigation Clark might launch.
Still, it appears Trump’s mind was made up as late as 4 p.m. that day, with call logs labeling a conversation shortly thereafter as being with “acting Attorney General Jeffrey Clark.”
At least a half dozen Republican lawmakers sought pardons
Taped testimony from Cassidy Hutchinson, a special assistant to Meadows, named GOP Reps. Matt Gaetz (Fla.), Mo Brooks (Ala.), Louie Gohmert (Texas), Biggs and Perry as seeking pardons. She also said that Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) contacted the White House counsel’s office seeking a pardon.
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) “talked about congressional pardons, but he never asked me for one,” Hutchinson said, noting that he was largely inquiring about whether the White House was going to grant the pardons to other lawmakers.
A letter from Brooks to the White House references the ask. “I recommend that President give general (all purpose) pardons to the following groups of people,” the email adds. “Every Congressman and Senator who voted to reject the electoral vote submission of Arizona and Pennsylvania.”
JUNE 28: Hutchinson offers explosive testimony about Trump’s actions on Jan. 6
White House officials expected violence on Jan. 6
Hutchinson approached Meadows about Jan. 6 after Guiliani told her Trump would be marching to the Capitol that day. “There’s a lot going on, Cass, but I don’t know. Things might get real, real bad on Jan. 6,” Meadows said, according to Hutchinson.
She also said Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe predicted there would be violence, saying he didn’t want to be involved with any of the post-election strategies. “He felt it was dangerous for the president’s legacy,” she said. “He had expressed to me that he was concerned that it could spiral out of control and potentially be dangerous, either for our democracy or the way that things were going for the 6th.”
Trump knew supporters were armed and wanted to eliminate screenings
Hutchinson said White House officials knew, as early as 10 a.m. on Jan. 6, that Trump supporters had knives, guns, bear spray, body armor and spears attached to the ends of flagpoles. Texts show Trump was furious the magnetometers, or “mags” for short, were evidently limiting his crowd size because many protesters with weapons elected to watch the speech from outside the screened area so their arms wouldn’t be confiscated.
“He felt the mags were at fault for not letting everybody in. But another leading reason, and likely the primary reason, is because he wanted it full and he was angry that we weren’t letting people through the mags with weapons,” Hutchinson said.
“They’re not here to hurt me,” Hutchinson recalled Trump saying. “Take the effing mags away. Let my people in. They can march to the Capitol from here. Let the people in. Take the effing mags away.”
Trump then used his speech to encourage his supporters to march to the Capitol.
Trump was determined to go to the Capitol; he allegedly tried to grab steering wheel of the car
A national security chat log indicates the White House was trying to arrange the trip to the Capitol — despite a 12:57 p.m. warning that fencing around the building had been breached. Ultimately it was the Secret Service that would push back against Trump’s demands to be transported to the Capitol, Hutchinson said she was told by Tony Ornato, a former Secret Service agent tapped to lead White House operations, as Robert Engel, the special agent in charge for Secret Service on Jan. 6, stood by listening.
“I’m the effing president, take me up to the Capitol now,” Trump said when Engel informed him they could not safely make the unscheduled journey, according to Hutchinson’s testimony. “The president reached up towards the front of the vehicle to grab at the steering wheel. Mr. Engel grabbed his arm, said, ‘Sir you need to take your hand off the steering wheel, we’re going back to the West Wing, we’re not going to the Capitol.’ Mr. Trump then used his free hand to lunge towards Bobby Engel,” Hutchinson testified she had been told. Ornato and Engel have said they are willing to testify to dispute Hutchinson’s account, but have yet to speak publicly about the incident.
White House lawyers worried about legal exposure
White House counsel Pat Cipollone told Hutchinson a few days before the attack he was worried that if Trump marched to the Capitol it could appear he was trying to incite a riot, obstruct justice or defraud the electoral count. “Please make sure we don’t go up to the Capitol, Cassidy,” Hutchinson said, relaying Cipollone’s message to her that morning. “We’re going to get charged with every crime imaginable if we make that movement happen.”
He and others in his office had also raised concerns about the language used in Trump’s speech for the morning of the 6th. “In my conversations with Mr. Herschmann, he had relayed that we would be foolish to include language that had been included at the president’s request,” she said, referring to White House lawyer Eric Herschmann. The language repeatedly would use the word “fight” and urged supporters to march to the Capitol.
Flynn pleads the Fifth when asked about democratic principles
Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser, needed a lengthy interlude with his lawyers when asked if he believes violence was justified on Jan. 6 and if he believes in the peaceful transition of power. He pleaded his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination to both questions.
Witnesses have been facing intimidation
The committee displayed various intimidating messages sent to those testifying before the committee, including one where a witness was told they would stay in good standing in Trump World if they “protect[ed] who I need to protect” and stayed on the “right team.” They were also reminded that “Trump does read transcripts.”
Another received a call the night before their deposition. “He wants me to let you know he’s thinking about you. He knows you’re loyal and you’re going to do the right thing when you go in for your deposition,” the committee said a witness was told. CNN has since reported both were messages to Hutchinson.
Giuliani and Meadows asked for pardons
When questioned by Cheney, Hutchinson affirmed that both Giuliani and Meadows asked for pardons relating to their involvement in Jan. 6. Meadows denied the assertion through a spokesman. “Meadows never sought a pardon and never planned to.”
JULY 12: Outside advisers helped shift Trump strategy to extremes
Trump verbally agreed to give Sidney Powell security clearance
Trump not only weighed installing campaign lawyer Sidney Powell as a special counsel to investigate voter fraud, but suggested he was preparing to get her a security clearance in order to further her work.
The idea came up in a meeting with Cipollone where outside advisers encouraged Trump to consider an executive order that would allow the secretary of Defense to seize voting machines and also establish the position for Powell. “[Trump] asked Pat Cipollone if he had the authority to name a special counsel, and he said yes. And then he asked him if he had the authority to give me whatever security clearance I needed, and Pat Cipollone said yes. And then the president said, ‘OK, you know, I’m naming her that and I’m giving her security clearance,’” Powell said in a taped deposition shown by the committee. It’s not clear that any further steps were taken to secure the clearance.
Campaign lead for investigating voter fraud said he could not find any
Bernard Kerik, a former New York City police commissioner tasked with leading the campaign’s investigation of voter fraud, was never able to find any, according to an email from his attorney to the committee. “It was impossible for Mr. Kerik and his team to determine conclusively whether there was widespread fraud or whether that widespread fraud would have altered the outcome of the election,” his lawyer wrote.
The panel also showed an email from him warning the investigation may not pan out. “We can do all the investigations we want later. But if the President plans on winning, it’s the legislators that have to be moved,” Kerik wrote to Meadows on Dec. 28.
Meadows thought Trump should concede; acknowledged voter fraud wouldn’t change outcome
Cipollone testified that Meadows had repeatedly shared that Trump should concede the election at some point. “That is a statement and a sentiment that I heard from Mark Meadows,” Cipollone said.
However, Hutchinson said she saw Meadows shift his focus to legal loopholes when voter fraud claims no longer seemed viable. “I perceived his goal with all of this to keep Trump in office. You know, he had very seriously and deeply considered the allegations of voter fraud,” she said.
“But when he began acknowledging that maybe there wasn’t enough voter fraud to overturn the election, you know, I witnessed him start to explore potential constitutional loopholes more extensively, which I then connected with John Eastman’s theories.”
Those outside White House stressed secrecy about Trump calls for a march to the Capitol
Text messages revealed by the committee showed those outside the White House, including those who organized the rally, seemed confident Trump would make the call for his supporters to head to the Capitol.
“POTUS is going to have us march there/the Capitol,” rally organizer Kylie Kremer wrote in a text to My Pillow founder Mike Lindell, adding that he wanted his involvement kept under wraps.
“It can also not get out about the march because I will get in trouble with the National Park Service and all the agencies but POTUS is going to just call for it ‘unexpectedly.’”
Another text from “Stop the Steal” organizer Ali Alexander on Jan. 5 noted that “Trump is supposed to order us to the Capitol at the end of his speech but we will see.” The committee also showed a draft tweet, marked with a “president has seen” stamp, that would have Trump tell rallygoers to “march to the capitol after” his speech.
GOP lawmakers had safety fears ahead of Jan. 6
In a Jan. 5 phone call among Republican members, Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-Ariz.), a member of the far-right House Freedom Caucus, said she asked House leaders to come up with a “safety plan for members.”
“I’m actually very concerned about this because we have who knows how many hundreds of thousands of people coming here,” Lesko said, falsely asserting “antifa” could be present.
“We also have, quite honestly, Trump supporters who actually believe that we are going to overturn the election,” she added. “And when that doesn’t happen — most likely will not happen — they are going to go nuts.”
Trump changed his speech to attack Pence
A review of multiple drafts of Trump’s speech as well as testimony indicate Trump added a line to his speech attacking Pence after a call the morning of Jan. 6 with his speechwriter Stephen Miller. “And we will see whether Mike Pence enters history as a truly great and courageous leader. All he has to do is refer the illegally submitted electoral votes back to the states,” Trump wrote shortly before his speech at the Ellipse. Miller’s wife, Katie Miller, was a communications director for Pence at the time.
The line was removed over legal concerns, with Stephen Miller saying Herschmann saw it as “counterproductive,” but speechwriters were directed to add it back in shortly after Trump’s heated call with Pence later that morning.
An analysis of Trump’s prepared remarks and what he ultimately said that day showed that while speaking he ended up criticizing Pence seven more times during the speech.
Trump campaign manager said his rhetoric will lead to deaths
Texts from former Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale show he blamed Trump for inciting the violence that day. “This is about Trump pushing for uncertainty in our country. A sitting president asking for a civil war,” he wrote in a message to former Trump campaign spokesperson Katrina Pierson shortly after 7 p.m. on Jan. 6. “This week I feel guilty for helping him win.”
The two would later disagree about the role Trump’s rhetoric played. “A woman is dead,” Parscale said in reference to Ashli Babbit, who was shot in the Capitol. “But if I was Trump and I knew my rhetoric was going to kill someone...” When Pierson said “it wasn’t the rhetoric,” Parscale responded, “Katrina. Yes it was.”
JULY 21: Trump led White House path of inaction
Secret Service spent at least 45 minutes weighing whether to take Trump to the Capitol
Videotaped testimony from retired Sergeant Mark Robinson, who previously worked with D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department and was assigned to help the president’s motorcade that day, backed up testimony from Hutchinson that Trump got into a “heated” exchange with his Secret Service detail.
But he also added new details to just how long the agency spent determining whether and how to get Trump there. “We were told to stand by … until they confirmed whether or not the president was going to go to the Capitol. And so I may have waited, I would just estimate maybe 45 minutes to an hour waiting for Secret Service to make that decision,” he said in a taped interview.
Trump did not talk to any of his national security leaders on Jan. 6
Despite gaps in call logs, interviews with a wide range of national security officials indicate that Trump didn’t contact any of them on Jan. 6. “You’re the commander in chief — you’ve got an assault going on the Capitol of the United States of America and there’s nothing? No call? Nothing? Zero?” Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in a recorded deposition shared by the committee.
While Trump did not talk to his national security officials, others on his staff did. It was Pence that ultimately spoke with Milley. “He was very animated and he issued very explicit, very direct, unambiguous orders. There was no question about that,” Milley said, adding that Pence said “get the military down here, get the Guard down here, put down this situation.”
And at one point, the Pentagon called the White House to coordinate a response to the attack. “The president didn’t want to do anything,” Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Va.) said. “And so Mr. Cipollone had to take the call himself.”
Pence security detail feared for their lives
Pence’s security detail believed they may need to use lethal force as they were trapped in the Capitol hearing the chants of rioters some 40 feet away. “If we lose any more time, we may … lose the ability to leave. So, if we’re going to leave, we need to do it now,” one Secret Service agent said in a radio transmission.
The committee interviewed an anonymous White House security official, who told the panel that the National Security Council was listening to the audio in real time and could hear some officers audibly fearing for their lives. “There was a lot of yelling. A lot of very personal calls over the radio, so it was disturbing. I don’t like talking about it, but there were calls to say goodbye to family members, so on, so forth,” an anonymous official said in audio played Thursday.
“They were running out of options and they were getting nervous. It sounds like we came very close to either service having to use lethal options or — or worse.”
Trump resisted adding any references to “peace” in his tweets
As the attack was happening, Trump sent a limited number of tweets, but none included messages to call off the attack as staff hoped for.
“Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement. They are truly on the side of our Country. Stay peaceful!” Trump wrote at 2:38 p.m.
Sarah Matthews, Trump’s deputy press secretary, said she was told by then-White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany that it was difficult to get Trump to make any call for peace. “She looked directly at me and, in a hushed tone, shared with me that the president did not want to include any sort of mention of peace in that tweet, and that it took some convincing on their part, those who were in the room,” Matthews said.
“There was a back and forth, going over different phrases to find something that he was comfortable with. And it wasn’t until Ivanka Trump suggested the phrase ‘stay peaceful’ that he finally agreed to include it.”
Trump didn’t include calls to go home in a peaceful way in Jan. 6 video
Raw footage presented Thursday showed Trump ignored a script that called for him to tell protesters to “leave the Capitol Hill region now and go home in a peaceful way.” The script, marked with the “president has seen” stamp, included such language.
Instead he spoke off the cuff in the Rose Garden, repeating false claims about the election being stolen and ultimately telling supporters they were “very special.” Trump ended the day mad at Pence
“Mike Pence let me down” were the last words Trump said before going into his private residence on Jan. 6, according to a White House employee who spoke with the committee.
Giuliani worked until the last minute to delay the certification of the vote
Even after Trump had tweeted a video telling people to go home, his lawyer was still working the phones the hour before Congress reconvened asking lawmakers to further delay the certification.
Giuliani made calls to GOP Sens. Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.), Tommy Tuberville (Ala.), Bill Haggerty (Tenn.), Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Josh Hawley (Mo.), and Ted Cruz (Texas) as well as Jordan.
“Hello. Senator Tuberville? Or I should say Coach Tuberville. This is Rudy Giuliani, president’s lawyer. I’m calling you because I want to discuss with you how they’re trying to rush this hearing and how we need you, our Republican friends, to try to just slow it down so we can get these legislatures to get more information to you,” he said in a voicemail left for Tuberville.
Trump resisted filming Jan. 7 speech
In the aftermath of Jan. 6, advisers encouraged Trump to condemn the actions of the day prior more explicitly. The video gave a window into Trump’s ongoing refusal to accept the election results, as well as the behind the scenes tinkering that took place to produce a three-minute video.
In one outtake, Trump cuts himself off while reading a script from a teleprompter. “But this election is now over. Congress has certified the results — I don’t want to say the election’s over, I just want to say Congress has certified the results without saying the election’s over, OK?” Trump said.
In another outtake, Trump is seen saying he can’t say the word “yesterday” in the context of the script. Additionally, the committee showed two out takes of Trump becoming frustrated after reading the line, “My only goal was to ensure the integrity of the vote.” In one clip, he pointed his index finger down before starting over, and in the second, he slammed the podium.
Cipollone was nervous about resigning
Cipollone said he considered resigning with the waves of other staffers but decided against it. “Did I consider it? Yes. Did I do it? No. [What I was] concerned about is if people in the counsel’s office left, who would replace me? And I had some concerns that it might be somebody who, you know, had been giving bad advice,” he said.
Scalia told him to knock off stolen election talk and stop listening to Giuliani
Then-Labor Secretary Eugen Scalia organized a meeting of Cabinet officials to “steady the ship” amid calls to use the 25th Amendment to remove Trump, ultimately issuing a memo of demands to the president. “While president, you will no longer publicly question the election results — after Wednesday, no one can deny this is harmful,” Scalia wrote in the memo.
He also offered a veiled dismissal of Giuliani, according to the committee. The memo suggests Trump listen to his Cabinet secretaries “while limiting the role of certain private citizens, who, respectful, have served you poorly with their advice.”
Trump campaign aides said Trump response to Jan. 6 was ‘shitty‘
A text exchange between Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh and one of his deputies, Matthew Wolking, showed they were frustrated that Trump never even mentioned Brian Sicknick, a Capitol Police officer killed in the riot.
“Also shitty not to have even acknowledged the death of the Capitol Police officer,” Murtaugh said in the Jan. 9 exchange.
“That is enraging to me. Everything he said about supporting law enforcement is a lie,” Wolking responded.
“You know what this is, of course. If he acknowledged the dead cop, he’d be implicitly faulting the mob. And he won’t do that, because they’re his people. And he would also be close to acknowledging that what he lit at the rally got out of control. No way he acknowledges something that could ultimately be called his fault. No way,” Murtaugh said.
by Rebecca Beitsch, The Hill