The House committee investigating the storming of the US Capitol, by Donald Trump supporters, wraps up its gripping public hearings on Thursday, with a televised primetime finale dissecting the former president's actions on the day of the incident.
"It's pretty simple," said Congresswoman Elaine Luria, a member of a panel comprising the seven Democrats and two Republicans who had voted to impeach Trump after the violent insurrection of January 6, 2021.
"He was doing nothing to actually stop the riot," the Democratic lawmaker from Virginia said, despite "his advisers urging him continuously to take action, to take more action".
Luria told CNN that the committee would examine Trump's actions "minute by minute", starting with a fiery speech made to his supporters near the White House (in which he claimed that the November 2020 election was stolen), to when he finally told the rioters that they were "very special", but it was time to go home.
Liz Cheney, the Republican Vice Chair of the committee, explained that the panel will present evidence that "Donald Trump never picked up the phone that day to order his administration to help… For multiple hours, Donald Trump refused to intervene to stop it."
The panel has also subpoenaed numerous advisors and aides to Trump, as it seeks to determine if either the former president, or his associates, had a role in planning/encouraging his supporters to prevent the certification of Democrat Joe Biden's election victory.
Thursday's two-hour hearing in Washington, the committee's eighth, is expected to be the last one this summer, although the committee has not ruled out further sessions.
The committee's opening hearing was also held in primetime, when television audiences are largest.
Two witnesses are expected to deliver a live testimony at Thursday's session— Sarah Matthews, the former deputy White House Press Secretary, and Matthew Pottinger, who served on the National Security Council. The two had resigned on January 6, as Trump supporters stormed the Capitol.
Committee members said the hearing would also feature excerpts from a videotaped deposition by White House counsel Pat Cipollone. In a testimony aired previously, Cipollone had said that there was no evidence of significant election fraud, and that Trump should have conceded to Biden.
Previous committee hearings have focused on Trump's attempts to sway election officials in the swing states that Biden narrowly won, and to put pressure on Vice President Mike Pence not to certify the Electoral College results.
During its seventh hearing last week, the committee examined the impact of a tweet Trump sent on December 19, 2020, urging his supporters to descend on the nation's capital on January 6 for a rally he promised would be "wild. Members of right-wing militia groups like the Proud Boys, the Oath Keepers and other Trump supporters saw the tweet from the president as a "call to arms," lawmakers said.
More than 850 people have been arrested in connection with the attack on Congress, which left at least five people dead and 140 police officers injured.
The 76-year-old Trump, who has repeatedly hinted that he may run for the White House again in 2024, was impeached for a historic second time by the House after the Capitol riot— he was charged with inciting an insurrection— but was acquitted by the Senate.
The House committee is expected to submit a report to Congress this fall with its findings.
The committee may issue criminal referrals to the Justice Department, leaving it up to Attorney General Merrick Garland to decide whether Trump or others should be prosecuted for the attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 election. He told reporters on Wednesday that the January 6 probe is the "most important" investigation that the Justice Department has ever conducted, and stressed that "no one is above the law in this country."
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