Tonight will be the first-ever public hearing examining the attack on the parliament building.
It’s been seventeen months since the Capitol was stormed. On January 6, 2021, outraged supporters of Donald Trump stormed into the House of Representatives in Washington DC to block Congress from confirming Joe Biden’s election victory. Five people were killed and hundreds were injured.
Nine members of Congress and a team of investigators took over a thousand statements and collected 140,000 documents about the assault. “They have been investigating for nearly a year and are hearing witnesses behind closed doors,” said US correspondent Erik Mouthaan. “Now the commission says: we know what happened, we have evidence and we are going to show it to the rest of the world.”
The House Committee’s investigation is separate from the US prosecution’s criminal investigation. So far, 800 people have been prosecuted for their actions during the storm. “Now it’s about the bigger story: what exactly happened? Was it a protest that got out of control or was it a preconceived plan?”
“A lot of Americans wonder how this could have gone wrong,” Mouthaan says. “When I was there to report, I said to myself: where are the police? Where are the reinforcements? So that too is under investigation.
Former President Trump’s role is also under scrutiny. According to Mouthaan, the image that the committee wants to convey is that this president wanted to stay in power at all costs. “Trump was not heard from during the storm for three hours. The Board of Inquiry has spoken to several of his former employees.
According to US media, these employees say that Trump actually thought everything was fine with what happened. Until it got really violent, he was actually in favor.”
Not on Fox News
The hearing starts at 8 p.m., prime time for all television channels, because that’s when most Americans are behind the screen. Because the commission of inquiry wants as many people as possible to watch it, major broadcasters have promised to broadcast it live.
Fox News, one of the nation’s largest broadcasters, will not broadcast the hearing. As a result, many Republican voters will have far less, Mouthaan says. “America is divided to the core and this investigation is no exception. Democrats are glad things are finally coming out, but Republicans are calling it a witch hunt and refusing to watch it.”
Divided into committee
Instead, they prefer to talk about inflation, high gas prices and dissatisfaction with current President Joe Biden. Mouthaan: “After the assault, Republican Party leaders in the US Congress condemned the attack. They called it unacceptable, but also decided not to fully investigate. In fact, they now call the attack commission of inquiry of unconstitutionality.”
According to the US correspondent, they mean the fact that the commission of inquiry is made up of seven Democrats and two Republicans who do not support Trump. Republicans present it as an investigation that is only conducted by Democrats and therefore has no say. This is a nonsense argument, because the majority of the House of Representatives just voted for this committee. That’s how they sell it to their followers: it’s but a left-wing leisure club, you don’t trust that, do you?”
At the same time, for many Republicans, this looks like yet another attempt to destroy Trump, says Mouthaan: “For years we have heard of various investigations into Trump. For example, the Democrats say he colluded With the Russians Such accusations are still unheard of So it’s understandable that Republican voters are thinking: Here we go again.
What to expect?
The committee has not yet announced who will testify. According to the American media, filmmaker Nick Quested, among others, will give a testimony. He shot the right-wing group Proud Boys during the storm and recorded the events of that morning.
After Thursday’s hearing, five more hearings will follow in the coming weeks.
Prior to the hearing, the FBI arrested Ryan Kelley. Kelley is a Republican candidate for governor of Michigan. He was arrested for his role in the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol in Washington. Kelley is one of five Republicans in the state vying to face Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in November.
According to a statement from an FBI agent, Kelley was filmed in a crowd of people “attacking and pushing law enforcement officers” inside the Capitol. Other images show Kelley climbing on an “architectural feature” near the stairs leading to the building. We then see him waving his hand to encourage the crowd to come up.
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