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By Christianne McCormick and Miriam Raftery

View full hearing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rrUa0hfG6Lo&t=189s

July 21, 2022 (Washington D.C.) – Last Tuesday’s hearing by the House Select Committee investigating the January 6, 2020 attack on the U.S. Capitol revealed new evidence, which exposed then-President Donald Trump’s use of social media to influence his followers, including violent extremists in designated hate groups.

Testimony revealed that instead of conceding the election after extensive briefings by top legal advisors informing him that he lost, Trump instead took actions that incited violence and inspired coordination among extremist groups including the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys, whose leaders have been charged with seditious conspiracy. Evidence also showed coordination between key Trump advisors and extremist leaders in the days leading up to the January 6th insurrection. A former Oath Keepers member testified to how he was swayed by Trump's deceptions and a documentary filimmaker confirmed the group's violent intentions.

Trump's White House Counsel Pat Cippolone, former Attorney General Bill Barr and others have testified that Trump was fully informed that no fraud sufficient to overturn election results had been found, after 60 judges found no evidence to overturn any election results. But the President continued to spread the false claim that the election was stolen, pressured Vice President Mike Pence to illegally stop certification of electoral votes, and sought to corrupt the Department of Justice to make false claims.

Republican Senator Liz Cheney said of Trump, “He had access to more information than almost any other American that the election was not stolen,” adding, “No rational or sane man could ignore that or reach an opposite conclusion.” Yet Trump ignored advice of top legal advisors and his own campaign chairman, relying instead on unsubstantiated and debunked legal theories promoted by his personal attorney, Rudy Giiuliani,

The committee presented evidence laying out a disturbing timeline of events:

December 14: The electoral college voted on December 14, declaring Joe Biden the winner

December 18:  An outside group of Trump advisors paid a surprise visit to the White House. These included former National Security Director Michael Flynn and political consultant Roger Stone, both later pardoned by Trump. The group presented a draft executive order that would have authorized a mass seizure of states’ voting machines by the military during an hours-long meeting described by some White House insiders as unhinged and contentious. The group also sought to have Trump appoint Sidney Powell as special council to charge people with election crimes;  Powell was a Trump lawyer facing a defamation lawsuit by Dominion Voting Machines after he made unsubstantiated claims. White House Counsel Pat Cippolone testified there was “no federal authority” to seize voting machines.

December. 19: After the Attorney General, the White House Counsel and others advised him he lost and even Justice Scalia’s son, the Secretary of Labor, urged him to concede, Trump tweeted, “Statistically impossible to have lost the 2020 election.  He added, “Big protest in D.C. on January 6.  Be there, will be wild!”  This triggered a monstrous response on social meeting, including several right-wing commentators who referred to a “red wedding” planned for January 6, slang for a mass slaughter. Infowars promoted “storming right into the Capitol” and pushing down barriers. Others called on Trump followers to bring body armor and weapons, to kill Democrats and police officers.

Leaders of the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys, who had never before collaborated, forged an alliance in an encrypted phone call; the committee has obtained hundreds of messages including tactical strategy such as maps showing location of police. Senator  Jamie Raskin stated that these groups worked with allies including Flynn; a photo shows Flynn guarded by a since-indicted Oath Keeper on January 6 (photo, right). Stone communicated regularly with leaders of both Oath Keepers and Proud Boys in a group called Friends of Stone.

Also in late December, Trump held a private meting with some Republican members of Congress urging them to encourage members of the public to come to D.C. and fight to stop what he falsely characterized as a stolen election, according to evidence compiled by the committee.

A former Twitter employee who was a platform and content moderator for the company at that time, testified with his identity withheld. “My concern was that the former President for seemingly the first time was speaking directly to extremist organizations and giving them directives,” the employee said in recorded testimony. He said the company considered tightening its moderation policy after Trump told the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by.” The Proud Boys are a designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center for its misogynistic, racist and anti-Semitic views. The Twitter employee further stated that he was alarmed at posts threatening violence and  warned that if there was no intervention, “people will die” noting that the crowd coming was “locked and loaded.” Similarly, Dr. Denel Hardin, Chief of Homeland Secuity, warned that Trump’s tweet had united violent groups to align. “Armed militias were collaborating with white supremacy and with conspiracy groups,” Senator Raskin stated.

January 4: The organizer of the Jan. 6 Capitol Ellipse rally sent a message stating the march to the Capitol had to be kept secret to avoid trouble with the National Park Service, which authorizes or rejects requests for marches in Washingto D.C.  He stated that Trump would call for the march “unexpectedly” in his speech at the Ellipse.

January 5:  The evening before Congress was set to certify the election results, speakers deemed too inflammatory to join Trump at the Ellipse gave speeches in Freedom Plaza. A former Trump campaign aide, Katrina Pierson, testified she raised concerns about extremist speakers such as Alex Jones of Infowars and others. Trump reportedly asked an aide to open the door so he could hear the speakers, one of whom stating that if Congress certified the vote, “We are going to shut this country down” as the crowd chanted “1776,” a reference to the American revolution. Trump tweeted, “We hear you and love you” in response.

January 6: Trump abandoned his scripted speech and urged the crowd to march to the White House and “stop the steal.” Former White House aide Cassidy Hutchison earlier testified that Trump had also tried to get the Secret Service to take down metal detectors despite being warned that some in the crowd had guns and other weapons.


Key testimony presented at the July 12 hearing

Brad Parscale:  The former Trump campaign manager wrote that after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, he felt guilty for his role in getting Trump elected and that it was Trump’s rhetoric that led to death of a rioter that day.

Van Tatenhove: A journalist who covered the Oath Keepers since the 2014 Bundy standoff testified, “They are a violent militia” adding that he stopped covering the group when it’s anti-Semitism and white supremacy beliefs led its leaders to tout Holocaust denial.

Tatenhove said Oath Keepers’ vision for  America “includes violence” and “swaying of people who may not know better through lies and propaganda.”

Stephen Ayres (photo, right):  A former Oath Keeper member and close associate with the group’s leader, Ayres has pled guilty to disorderly and disruptive conduct after illegally entering the Capitol. He voluntarily testified to the committee that he was influenced by Trump’s statements and social media posts. Ayres said on January 6, he believed the election was stolen because “I was pretty hard-core into social media” and because Trump “put out a stop the steal rally.” Ayres said he changed his mind after since doing his own research and learning that all of Trump’s lawsuits were dismissed by judges (including some appointed by Trump, and that Trump knew there was no evidence of fraud when he urged followers to stop a stolen election.

Ayres, 39, gave testimony regarding his participation at the Capitol riots, stating that he did not intend to go to the Capitol but instead felt compelled to after the president “got everybody riled up.” Ayres mentioned that the crowd he was part of did finally leave the Capitol after Trump sent out a tweet asking everyone to leave. The tweet came three hours after the violence first erupted. “I believe if he would have done that earlier in the day, we wouldn’t be in this bad of a situation,” Ayres reflected.

Describing himself as a “family man and a working man,” Ayres said Trump’s deception caused him to lose his job and sell his house. “It changed my life, and not for the good,” he stated, adding, “I felt like I had horse blinders on.” His advice to others?  “Take the blinders off, step back, and see what’s going on.”

Conclusion, witness intimidation, and preview of next hearing

Senator Raskin, a Democrat, concluded, “American carnage – that’s Donald Trump’s legacy.”

Senator Cheney, a Republican, revealed that Trump tried to call witness who has not yet testified. She warned, “We will take any attempt to influence witness testimony very seriously.”

She also gave a preview of the next hearing slated for this evening, which Cheney said will “make clear he (Trump) did nothing to try and stop the vioelence” and that it was Vice President Mike Pence who spoke with the Secretary of Defense and called in the National Guard.



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