Jul 26, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Jan. 6 panel to show graphic footage

A protestor is seen hanging from the balcony in the U.S. Senate chamber during the Jan. 6 assault.

A rioter hangs from the balcony in the Senate Chamber on Jan. 6. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

The Jan. 6 select committee will paint a haunting picture of what unfolded during the attack on the Capitol during its first public hearing on Tuesday, Axios is told.

Why it matters: The nine-member panel will not only hear from four police officers on the grounds that day, but show graphic video footage similar to the chilling 13-minute video Democrats aired during Donald Trump's second impeachment trial.

  • The goal, committee aides say, is to make clear how violent the events were, and to leave viewers with no doubt that what happened was a vicious attack on American democracy.
  • The opening presentations and testimony will set the stage for a monthslong probe into the worst assault on the Capitol since the British torched it during the War of 1812.

What to expect: Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), chairman of the committee, and Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), one of two Republican members, will deliver opening statements at the outset of the hearing — a sign the committee wants to emphasize its bipartisan composition.

  • Cheney's remarks will focus heavily on how the riots threatened the peaceful transfer of power between administrations, making clear Jan. 6 “was an assault on the Constitution," a source familiar with her statement tells Axios.
  • “It’ll be similar to what she spoke about in her op-ed in May,” the source said, referring to a piece Cheney wrote for the Washington Post.

The witnesses, including two officers from the Capitol Police protection squad and two from the Metropolitan Police, will be prompted to go into detail about what they experienced.

They'll also be asked to give a thorough account of who the rioters were, what their perceived goal was, and what violence the officers personally experienced, Axios is told.

  • “Hearing from law enforcement first is critical as we piece together what happened on Jan. 6 and the run-up to that fateful day," Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.) told Axios.
  • In addition, members of the panel plan to press the officers on their preparedness — or lack thereof — following a damning Senate report detailing a series of failures made by Capitol Police in the weeks leading up to the attack.
  • Members of the committee want the officers to help piece together a precise timeline of not only what took place between the Nov. 3 election and the Jan. 6 riots, but also who knew what and when — something the Senate report did not examine, committee aides say.

Behind the scenes: The committee members have held a series of phone calls.

  • They also have met in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-Calif.) office at least three times — including Monday afternoon — in preparation for Tuesday's hearing.

What to watch: Two key members of the committee — Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) — will be essential.

  • Both served as lead impeachment managers during former President Trump's first and second impeachment trials, and they were largely seen by their Democratic colleagues as having performed well.
  • Schiff held out the possibility Monday of calling former members of the Trump administration to testify — and said he expects the committee will eventually issue subpoenas.
  • He said some suspects "will be reluctant to testify and need to be compelled."
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