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OPINION | BRENDA BLAGG: As millions watch, Jan. 6 committee connects the dots on Trump’s role in Capitol attack

Jan. 6 committee peels backs layers of attack on Capitol by Brenda Blagg | June 22, 2022 at 1:00 a.m.

Perhaps expectations were unduly low as the Jan. 6 insurrection committee hearings began last week.

No one was sure who would watch or for how long, but revelations from the committee's months-long inquiry into what led up to the insurrection, who was responsible and how it played out has proven captivating.

That the fact-finding panel is made up of mostly Democratic House members, all named by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, seems to matter far less than what they've uncovered.

The truth of Jan. 6 is indeed being laid out by partisans, but they are partisans from former President Donald Trump's inner circle, people testifying under oath about what they saw and did as a defeated Trump desperately tried to cling to power.

Anyone who cared to listen last week -- and tens of millions of Americans did -- heard Trump's own advisers testify that the former president knew full well that he had lost re-election in 2020.

He fabricated "the big lie" that the election had been stolen and set into motion multiple efforts to disrupt the peaceful transition of power to his lawful successor.

On top of all that, Trump turned the effort into a quarter-billion-dollar fundraiser, seeing donations from supporters for a legal defense fund that didn't exist and diverting the money to other uses.

It was a big con on top of a big lie. Then there was the highly respected conservative former federal judge who reinforced all of the testimony with a caution that Trump and his followers remain "a clear and present danger to American democracy."

The initial hearings before the Jan. 6 panel provided shock after shock for viewers, even for those who thought they had followed developments closely since that historic day when Americans invaded the U.S. Capitol.

Newly released video, shot by a documentary crew embedded with the Proud Boys, gave a whole new view of the brutal attack that forced Capitol Police into hours of hand-to-hand combat for which they were not trained.

Clearly, the Proud Boys, who arrived at the Capitol well before Trump urged the crowd he gathered at the Ellipse to march on the seat of government, went early to case the security and plot their attack.

They went with malevolent intent and, as a confidential informant has since told authorities, would have killed Vice President Mike Pence if they had found him.

It was on the third day of testimony that Americans got a clear image of the pressure President Trump applied to Pence, expecting the vice president to refuse to allow certification of Electoral College votes that day.

Pence instead insisted on carrying out his constitutional duty, prompting not only a heated phone conversation with the president but also a Trump tweet after the violence had started.

"Mike Pence didn't have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. USA demands the truth!" Trump tweeted from his then-active @realDonaldTrump account.

No one will forget the chant from the mob to "hang Mike Pence," a fate Trump is reported to have said might have been justified.

Testimony to the Jan. 6 committee from Trump insiders and Pence's own staff established that the mob that breached the Capitol actually came within 40 feet of intercepting Pence as he and his staff were moved to a secure location in the Capitol building.

The vice president and his entourage waited there until he and members of Congress could return to their chambers to resume certifying the 2020 vote.

Nevertheless, one congressman later tried to persuade Americans that the mob rushing through the Capitol that day was like any ordinary group of tourists.

Last week's Jan. 6 hearings were just the beginning of efforts to record the truth of the insurrection. The hearings continue this week and throughout June.

It will be up to the Department of Justice whether to charge anyone, including the former president, for their roles in all of this.

But another development from last week was a renewed request from Justice for all of the testimony the Jan. 6 Committee has collected.

That's important, as is how the committee responds and when.

The clearest message to the rest of us, however, is to stay tuned.

The committee and its staff are far from done with this work. Indeed, they're gathering new information each day, fitting the pieces together with what they already know and reporting their findings to what should be an increasingly interested American public.

Print Headline: Putting it all together


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