Jul 28, 2021 - Podcasts

An emotional first day for the Jan. 6 committee

Yesterday, the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol held its first hearing. Four officers shared difficult testimony about the physical and verbal assaults they endured while responding to the riot.

  • Plus, the pandemic’s latest turning point.
  • And, the youngest victims of Myanmar’s military coup.

Guests: Axios' Margaret Talev, Dave Lawler, and Ina Fried.

Credits: Axios Today is produced in partnership with Pushkin Industries. The team includes Niala Boodhoo, Sara Kehaulani Goo, Dan Bobkoff, Alexandra Botti, Nuria Marquez Martinez, Sabeena Singhani, and Alex Sugiura. Music is composed by Evan Viola. You can reach us at [email protected]. You can text questions, comments and story ideas to Niala as a text or voice memo to 202-918-4893.

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NIALA BOODHOO: Good morning! Welcome to Axios Today!

It’s Wednesday, July 28th. I’m Niala Boodhoo.

Here’s what we’re covering today: an emotional first day for the Jan. 6 committee. Plus, the youngest victims of Myanmar’s military coup. But first, the pandemic’s latest turning point is today’s One Big Thing.

NIALA: Yesterday, the CDC once again updated its mask guidance, suggesting that fully vaccinated people wear masks indoors when in areas of high or substantial transmission. Which as it turns out includes a huge portion of the U.S., since the CDC is classifying about 46% of U.S. counties as “high transmission” and 17% have “substantial transmission."

It feels like we're hitting another Covid pandemic turning point where things are bad, and public health officials and politicians are scrambling for ways to contain the spread of the delta variant and convince unvaccinated Americans to get the shot -- and to do that, officials need to know who these people are. The latest polling from Axios and the global research firm Ipsos gets at this. Axios managing editor for politics Margaret Talev sent us this voice memo, explaining the new findings.

MARGARET: So it turns out there are actually three types of unvaccinated Americans. There are those who say they're likely to do it, but just haven't yet. They make up about a quarter of the unvaccinated. Then there are those who say they're not very likely to do it, but they haven't ruled it out. And they're about another quarter. Finally, there are those that we call the hard nos. They're telling us, as of right now, they just can't see anyone or anything convincing them and they're a little more than half of the unvaccinated population.

Now, what may be most valuable to officials is understanding these demographic differences among the groups. The most persuadable of the unvaccinated tend to be non-white, under 35, a little more female than male, and they lean Democratic. Pollster Chris Jackson says that with this group, it's less about convincing them that they should get the shot than it is about making it convenient for them to do it.

The middle group reflects the nation's demographics more evenly. These are the skeptics. They might respond to persuasion efforts, including enticement, requirements, or penalties. Finally, there's the hardest group to convince. There are Black, Hispanic, and Asian Americans in this camp, but it skews disproportionately white, Republican, and Southern. And we really don't know yet how much the new pro-vaccine advocacy that we're seeing from figures like Sean Hannity, or House GOP leaders could influence them.

But here's what we do know about the hard no's. They're the most likely to say they don't consume mainstream or any news. And they're also the most likely to distrust all authority figures, from the President right down to the CDC. They're also disproportionately likely to be parents of school-aged children, and that also could make it very difficult for their children to get the vaccine in the months to come.

NIALA: Big thanks to Axios's Margaret Talev for sending us that voice memo.

We’ll be back in 15 seconds with the emotional testimony on Capitol Hill yesterday, for the January 6th committee.

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NIALA: Welcome back to Axios Today! I’m Niala Boodhoo.

Yesterday the House committee investigating the January 6th attack on the Capitol held its first hearing. Four officers shared difficult testimony about the physical and verbal assaults they endured while responding to the riot. One Capitol police officer, Harry Dunn, spoke about the emotional trauma that he and other Black officers are still dealing with, after facing repeated racial abuse from protesters. A note that the testimony we are about to play contains racial slurs.

HARRY DUNN: No one had ever, ever called me a n----- while wearing the uniform of a Capitol police officer. One officer told me he had never, in his entire 40 years of life, been called a n----- to his face. And that streak ended on January 6th.

NIALA: Capitol Police Sergeant Aquilino Gonell also testified, condemning former President Trump's false claims of other groups playing a role in the insurrection.

AQUILINO GONELL: There was nobody else. It was not Antifa. It was not Black Lives Matters. It was not the FBI. It was his supporter that he sent him over to the Capitol that day.

NIALA: The two Republican lawmakers, Representatives Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger on the Democratic-led committee, vowed to carry out a full investigation and lamented other lawmakers who have questioned the events of that day.

LIZ CHENEY: The American people deserve the full and open testimony of every person with knowledge of the planning and preparation for January 6th. We must know what happened here at the Capitol. We must also know what happened every minute of that day in the White House. Every phone call, every conversation, every meeting leading up to during and after the attack.

NIALA: Yesterday, the Justice Department denied the use of executive privilege for some witnesses, clearing the way for former Trump DOJ officials to testify on what happened between the election and January 6th. We will continue to bring you updates as the investigation continues.

Between COVID-19 and the Olympics, a lot has been swallowed up by the American news cycle lately. But meanwhile there’ve been huge protests across the world - including in Myanmar where the military staged a coup in February. Since then, at least 75 children have been killed - and more than 1,000 other children detained.

Axios’ World Editor Dave Lawler is here to catch us up. Dave, after those initial clashes that got so much attention - what’s happening now?

DAVE LAWLER: Yeah, so you have a bunch of things happening at once. You have this ongoing civil disobedience movement among supporters of the deposed government. You also have violence around the country between the military and these rebel militias that have formed to take on the ruling junta. And you have also, um, the worst yet wave of the pandemic hitting the country. So a lot of difficult things happening at the same time in Myanmar.

NIALA: More than a thousand children have been detained. The U.N. says, arbitrarily, why hasn't this conflict bubbled up to front page news here in the U.S.?

DAVE: So I've been thinking about this as well. And I think it's just weeks and months of bad news are often very difficult to keep your eyes focused on. And it's clear that this government does not have the support of the people, that crack downs have been really brutal, and there is still this will to resist, but we're not seeing these images that we saw right when the coup happened of people flooding the streets and standing up in this sense of optimism that things could change. Unfortunately, at the moment, we're settling into this kind of long grueling period of opposition to the military with no clear end in sight.

NIALA: The U.S. is talking a big game here, taking a stand for democracy. Are we actually doing anything about it or is anyone in the international community?

DAVE: Yeah, so we've had a few waves of sanctions against individuals and companies linked to the military. There have been efforts to isolate the regime, which doesn't have many friends around the world at this point. But it is really an example of the limits of U.S. power in this situation. Now you mentioned talking a big game, when this first happened, it was a big priority of President Biden's. It was the first, or at least one of the first big international crises of his administration and he basically said, we're not going to accept this. And yet we've gotten to a point where the steps the U.S. have taken so far, don't really seem to have changed the equation at all.

NIALA: Thanks for joining us, Dave. Dave Lawler is Axios’ World Editor.

DAVE: Sure, thanks for having me.

NIALA: For more on other international stories you might have missed, check out yesterday’s Axios Re:Cap, where we also talked about violence in Venezuela and protests in Belarus.

We end today's show with another dispatch from Tokyo by Axios' Ina Fried, who was there Tuesday night for the softball finals. Although the US team did lose the gold medal to Japan, there was a silver lining -

INA FRIED: Japan winning can help make the case that it's not just a U.S. dominated sport. Softball is really at a precipice when it comes to being an Olympic sport, so this is really a chance for the sport to say, look, we are competitive. We're a global sport. There were four continents represented among the six countries that competed here in Tokyo. And a lot of the games were close.

NIALA: You can read Ina’s story on softball’s future and the rest of her Olympics coverage on Axios.com.

That’s all we’ve got for you today! You can reach our team at podcasts at axios.com or reach out to me on Twitter. You can also text me at (202) 918-4893. I’m Niala Boodhoo - thanks for listening - stay safe and we’ll see you back here tomorrow morning.

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