January 6 committee finds Trump to blame for attempted coup

One of the most powerful was that of former Attorney General Bill Barr, who made it clear to Trump that he believed his claims of a stolen election was “bullshit”.

“I made it clear I did not agree with the idea of saying the election was stolen and putting out this stuff, which I told the president was bullshit,” Barr recalled telling Trump.

“I didn’t want to be a part of it, and that’s one of the reasons that went into me deciding what I did.”

Barr’s views were backed up by Trump’s favourite child Ivanka, who served as the president’s special adviser.

“I respect Attorney General Barr. So I accepted what he was saying,” she told the committee in a videotaped testimony.

Tonight’s opener also contained several new revelations from Cheney and Democratic chair Bennie Thompson, which they said would be fleshed out in further hearings over the next few weeks.

Among the most damning was that the committee had received testimony that when Trump learned of his supporters’ threats to hang Vice President Mike Pence, he said, “Maybe our supporters have the right idea” and that Pence “deserves it”.

The committee also played a video montage of the riot itself, highlighting some of its most dramatic moments – including the key role of right-wing militia group the Proud Boys, whose leader Enrique Tarrio has since been charged for his role in the attack.

This came in the context of the September 2020 presidential debate in which Trump infamously told the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by”.

As part of its evidence tonight, the committee showed a post that Tarrio posted on Parler shortly after that statement, which said: “Standing by sir.”

Two key witnesses also provided fresh evidence: US Capitol Police officer Caroline Edwards, who suffered a traumatic brain injury during the attack, as well as documentary filmmaker Nick Quested, who was embedded with the Proud Boys that day and had a first-hand account of how the crowd morphed “from protesters, to rioters, to insurrectionists.”

Caroline Edwards, a US Capitol Police officer injured in the January 6 riot.Credit:Bloomberg

Footage was played of Edwards standing guard at a barricade at the edge of the Capitol lawn, along with several other officers – none of whom were with riot gear.

Minutes later, as the crowd surged forward, Edwards was propelled back, her head hitting the concrete steps in the process.

Donald Trump talked while rioters breached the US Capitol.

Donald Trump talked while rioters breached the US Capitol.

“Never in my wildest dream did I think as a police officer, as a law enforcement officer, that I would find myself in the middle of a battle,” she told the committee.

“It was something like I’d seen in the movies. I couldn’t believe my eyes. There were officers on the ground, they were bleeding, they were throwing up, they had friends’ blood all over their faces… It was carnage, chaos.”

Tonight’s hearing was the first of at least six public hearings that will take place over the next few weeks before a final report will be released in September, two months out from the midterm elections.

However, any criminal activity uncovered will need to be referred to the Justice Department led by Attorney General Merrick Garland.

In a sign of the wrenching politics surrounding the Trump-era, committee co-chair Cheney issued a warning to her fellow Republicans – who voted to remove her from her House leadership position: “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 dishonour will remain.’”

Meanwhile, Republicans have already sought to characterise the hearing as illegitimate and have sought to focus instead on Biden’s political woes.

“Democrats are using January 6 to avoid accountability for the worst inflation since 1981, record high gas prices that have doubled since Biden took office, historic crime, and open borders,” said aspiring House speaker Kevin McCarthy

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