The House panel investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 riots convened for a final hearing on Tuesday to further examine former President Donald Trump’s efforts to reverse his 2020 election loss and close the knot. The commission released new evidence about how far Trump and his allies want to keep him in the White House — and how groups like the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers interpreted his calls for a “wild” rally on Jan. 6. Congress confirmed Joe Biden’s election victory. Tuesday’s hearing focused on testimony from former Trump administration staffers and allies, including former White House adviser Pat Cipollone and Sidney Powell, an outside lawyer who advised Trump.
The commission also heard from Stephen Ayres of Warren, Ohio, who recently admitted they entered the Capitol illegally; and Jason Van Tatenhove, former spokesman for the Oath Keepers militia, whose members joined the attack. Here are the main takeaways from the hearing.
Rep. Liz Cheney, a Wyoming Republican and vice chair of the committee, criticized Trump and his allies for their approach in attempting to discredit the findings of the committee’s year-long investigation.
“Now the argument seems to be that President Trump was manipulated by others outside the administration,” Cheney said. She noted that fingers are being pointed at advisers like John Eastman or Powell as people who wielded significant influence over the president at the time.
“This, of course, is nonsense,” Cheney said. “President Trump is a 76-year-old man. He is not an impressionable child.”
Cheney said the commission shows Trump has access to more detailed and specific information than almost anyone in the country who said the 2020 election was not true.
“Donald Trump cannot escape responsibility by being willfully blind,” she said.
Pat Cipollone makes his debut, describes chaotic Oval Office meeting
The committee for weeks has described Cipollone, the former White House counsel, as a critical witness in Trump’s inner circle leading up to and following the Jan. 6 attack. Cipollone finally sat for a deposition last week, and clips of his testimony were aired for the first time in Tuesday’s hearing.
In an interview with researchers, Cipollone commented on what Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., had a “hot and bad fight” in an Oval Office meeting on Dec. 18, 2020, when White House officials learned that Powell, the former CEO of Overstock.com, was among those who declined the pick. Patrick Byrne and retired. Lt. Gene. Mike Flynn meets with Trump. Cipollone said the group showed “a complete refusal to support what you were actually saying as facts.” Cipollone also recalled that Powell was told that the proposal that the federal government could confiscate voting machines was a “terrible idea for the country.”