Your complete guide to the televised hearings of the Jan. 6 committee

Promising never-seen video, new audio and testimony, the U.S. congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol begins televised hearings beginning tonight that will attempt to show how the violence erupted that day and how defeated president Donald Trump tried to overturn Joe Biden’s election victory.

The panel’s year-long investigation into the Capitol attack is meant to demonstrate how America’s tradition of a peaceful transfer of presidential power came close to slipping away, and what that could mean for future elections.

It will reconstruct how Trump refused to concede the 2020 election, spread false claims of voter fraud and orchestrated an unprecedented public and private campaign to remain in power up to and including the day on which vice-president Mike Pence performed his ceremonial role in certifying the election.

What will come up

On Thursday night, the panel is expected to present wrenching accounts from police who engaged in hand-to-hand combat with the mob, including testimony from U.S. Capitol Police Officer Caroline Edwards, who was seriously injured in the attack. Also appearing Thursday will be documentarian Nick Quested, who filmed the extremist Proud Boys storming the Capitol. 

There will be recorded accounts from Trump’s senior aides at the White House, the administration and the campaign, as well as members of Trump’s family, an aide for the committee who spoke on the condition of anonymity told the Associated Press.

Former U.S. president Donald Trump is shown with his fourth and final White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, on Oct. 21, 2020. The actions and statements of both men are another line of inquiry for the House committee. (Al Drapo/Reuters)

The committee divided the investigation into different subject teams that are expected to provide structure to the hearings.

Likely of most interest is the probe on Trump and those who tried to help him overturn the election, as well as the actions of the Trump administration Justice Department in the weeks leading up to Jan. 6.

One team has looked into the government’s response, including the slow deployment of the National Guard and the struggles of Capitol Police on that day.

Other subjects of the investigation include those who organized and financed the rally on Jan. 6, as well as social media disinformation and the current state of domestic extremism in the U.S.

Who spoke to the committee?

The committee has conducted more than 1,000 depositions and interviews, with most subjects not known. Those who’ve participated include Trump’s daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner, both former White House advisers, and attorney Rudy Giuliani, who in the election aftermath pushed claims of fraud.

Trump’s attorney general William Barr also recently met with the committee, according to reports.

It has been reported that Jared Kushner and his wife Ivanka Trump, both former White House advisers, have appeared before the panel. (Patrick Semansky/The Associated Press)

The committee has issued at least 99 known subpoenas to compel testimony.

Jeffrey Clark, a senior Justice Department official in Trump’s administration, eventually agreed to a deposition after threat of criminal prosecution. According to published reports and the Senate judiciary committee, Clark was more amenable than other Justice officials about plans to install alternate, Republican-friendly slates of electors in some states won by Biden.

Who hasn’t spoken to the committee?

Trump has urged former aides to disregard committee subpoenas. The panel has not heard from his last chief of staff, Mark Meadows, his final attorney general, Jeffrey Rosen, or current Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

The House has voted to recommend to the Justice Department contempt of Congress charges for four Trump associates for refusing to co-operate: Meadows and former top Trump administration figures Steve Bannon, Peter Navarro and Dan Scavino.

Bannon is set to go to trial in July and Navarro was recently indicted. Convictions could net prison time of up to one year and a fine up to $100,000 US.

Peter Navarro, former trade adviser to president Donald Trump, complained bitterly to reporters on June 3 after being briefly jailed that day after an indictment on two counts of contempt of Congress was handed down. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

About the panel

While there are two Republicans on the nine-member panel — Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger — overall, there is not the bipartisan spirit seen in the 9/11 Commission and Watergate hearings.

The House panel was approved in June 2021 after Senate Republicans blocked the formation of an independent, bipartisan commission. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rejected some Republican members proposed by McCarthy, including some who still sow doubt over the 2020 result. Among those who were rejected is Republican Rep. Jim Jordan, who reportedly attended a Jan. 6 planning session at the White House on Dec. 21, 2020.

This combination of photos shows the members of the House select committee. Top row from left: Jamie Raskin, Zoe Lofgren, committee chair Bennie Thompson, Elaine Luria and Pete Aguilar. Bottom row from left: Adam Kinzinger, Stephanie Murphy, Liz Cheney and Adam Schiff. (The Associated Press)

Congress doesn’t have the power to press charges, but it could make criminal referrals based on what they unearth to the Justice Department — perhaps even for Trump. Such a referral would put Attorney General Merrick Garland and his prosecutors on the spot.

The stakes

The panel is expected to produce a report by year’s end. If the November midterms see the House flipped to Republican control, it is highly likely that inquiries into the Trump administration and Jan. 6 will end.

The attempt to subvert democracy isn’t over, Democrats argue, as multiple polls indicate many Americans still incorrectly believe Trump won, while some states around the country have moved to replace election officials and politicians who shot down election fraud claims. The Republican candidate for governor in Pennsylvania in November, Doug Mastriano, believes the 2020 election was stolen and also attended the aforementioned Jan. 6 strategy session at the White House.

Doug Mastriano, a Pennsylvania state senator, is the Republican candidate for governor in that state. Mastriano, seen on May 17, has offered to sit for a voluntary interview with the congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. (Carolyn Kaster/The Associated Press)

Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, a member of the panel, said Tuesday the measure of success would be “whether we are able to preserve American democracy and our institutions.”

No credible claims of widespread election fraud were brought forth in dozens of cases that went before the courts and were subsequently rejected. The Trump administration’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency characterized the election in a statement as “the most secure in American history.” In the days before he resigned in December 2020, Bill Barr told the Associated Press nothing was unearthed “on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.”

Are the actions of Trump and his associates being probed elsewhere?

Yes. Georgia officials are currently holding a special grand jury to look into attempts from Trump and his White House to pressure state officials to overturn a Biden win there.

Former aide Navarro also said recently he received a subpoena from the Justice Department.

Garland’s department has been silent on whether it’s examining the Trump administration in connection with Jan. 6.

Serious areas of concern also include the fact White House documents were found at Trump’s Florida estate, and that there was an hours-long gap in White House call logs on Jan. 6.

Who’s been charged?

Outside of the committee, nearly 850 people have been arrested in relation to the Capitol attack, including more than 250 charged with assaulting or impeding law enforcement.

More than 300 people have pleaded guilty to a variety of charges. Six individuals have been found guilty at trials.

Several members and associates of the extremist Proud Boys and Oath Keepers have been charged with seditious conspiracy, which carries a prison sentence of up to 20 years.

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