Jun 7, 2022 - Podcasts

The January 6th committee goes prime time

After 10 months of investigation into the capitol insurrection, the January 6th committee is having its first prime time public hearing on Thursday night.

  • Plus, more police are banned from marching in this month’s pride parades.

Guests: Andrea Bernstein, co-host of the podcast Will Be Wild; Axios' Russell Contreras.

Credits: Axios Today is produced by Niala Boodhoo, Sara Kehaulani Goo, Alexandra Botti, Nuria Marquez Martinez, 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 Tuesday, June 7th.

I’m Niala Boodhoo.

Here’s what you need to know today: more police banned from marching in this month’s Pride parades.

But first, today’s One Big Thing: the January 6th committee goes prime time.

After 10 months of investigation into the Capitol insurrection, the January 6th committee is having its first prime time public hearing on Thursday night. Andrea Bernstein is with us with what to expect. She's co-host of the podcast Will Be Wild, which looks at the forces that led to January 6th. Hi Andrea.

ANDREA BERNSTEIN: Good morning. It's great talking to you.

NIALA: You know, we've had sort of a drip, drip, drip of information about the committee's work over the last year. What's the latest that we've learned ahead of these hearings?

ANDREA: I think that, the sort of biggest information that we've learned most recently is the extent to which the former president pressured his vice president, Mike Pence. And that in fact, Mike Pence's staff warned the secret service of potential violence that they were so concerned prior to January 6. But let me emphasize how important it is to look beyond the drips. And I think this is what the hearing is going to give us the opportunity to do, which is to say, what is the story of what happened? People saw the event on TV or processed it in real time via social media and then since then have gotten news bulletins, have read bits and pieces of stories, but have not really had a chance to immerse themselves in the story. That's what we've tried to do with our podcast and that is what I hope the committee is going to do a lot more of with this subpoena power that they've had.

NIALA: So what do you think will be the central focus, the central story of these hearings?

ANDREA: So I think initially what we're going to really be learning about is more about what the former president was doing on January 6 and in the run up to January 6. That's what they hinted very strongly, that we will understand the seven hour gap in his schedule. We've learned bits of breadcrumbs on the story from court documents that the committee has filed where they've upended bits of testimony from senior White House aides, not the top, top ones, but people who were in the room when decisions were being made. So we expect that we will be learning information that we'll be hearing from witness interviews that we have not heard thus far.

NIALA: My colleague, Jonathan Swan has been reporting this week that the January 6th committee has been split behind the scenes over what actions to take after the public hearings. Do we know what the intent of the end result of this hearing is meant to be?

ANDREA: So I think we've seen it somewhat of a range of what will happen after this that's been out in public view. There's been some indication that some members of the committee are more inclined to press the Justice Department to bring criminal charges while others feel more compelled to tell the story of what happened on January 6th. We don't know for sure.

And I think one of the things that's really extraordinary about this committee is to the extent that even though bits and pieces of information have come out, the construction of this committee is so different from anything that we've seen. It has seven Democrats. It has two Republicans who are renegade Republicans. So they're all committed to telling the story. The disagreements that we hear seem to me smaller than the unity of purpose with which this committee has really been trying to dig out the truth of what happened in the run-up to January 6th and on the day itself.

NIALA: What does the committee, what has the committee then indicated its hopes are for public engagement with what they're doing?

ANDREA: What we know from what committee members have said is that they are hoping that this information will be revelatory enough that it will change people's views of what to do about democracy. The forces that have been at play, that were at play in the run up to January 6th, those forces haven't gone away. If anything, they've just intensified. So the question of what that means is an existential question for democracy. And I would be alarmed if there wasn't some kind of debate and disagreement and discussion about what to do.

What we know now is that there will be these hearings. Uh, it's our understanding there'll be six of them, two of them in prime time, that there will be a report coming up sometime later this year, that there may be further hearings. And then beyond that, what they do? Do they press the Justice Department to move forward? We shall see. I mean, there's been very little tactically that the committee has done to tilt its hand prior to when it actually does things.

NIALA: Andrea Bernstein is co-host of the podcast Will Be Wild and Trump Inc. Thanks, Andrea.

ANDREA: Thank you so much. Great talking to you.

NIALA: In a moment: Pride events are telling police to stay away.

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NIALA: Welcome back to Axios Today. I'm Niala Boodhoo. As LGBTQ+ groups March in Pride parades around the country this month, organizers in some cities are banning police departments from marching with them. Axios’ Russell Contreras has been reporting on how these cities are responding. Hey Russ.

RUSSELL CONTRERAS: Great to be with you.

NIALA: Russ, what role have police departments played in the past in Pride parades?

RUSSELL: Well, traditionally Pride events were a chance for police to engage with gay and lesbian communities. They've marched officially in parades. But in recent years, Pride organizers have pulled back and asked police not to officially participate or march in uniform. And this is a result of some members who support the Black Lives Matter movements saying it's creating tensions between Black LGBTQ members and the tensions around police violence. So in recent years, there has been a push to remove police from officially participating and relegating them to patrolling.

NIALA: And how were police departments responding to that?

RUSSELL: Police across the country, they’re responding differently. Some like in Albuquerque say they’re hurt. They said this was a chance for them to engage with the gay and lesbian community. Others are saying, like say the San Francisco Police Officer Pride Alliance, that this is kind of a slap in the face. They say that you wouldn't do this to other groups. And just because they're police officers should not disqualify them, especially if they agree with the mission of the Pride events. So it's definitely creating a division amongst Pride organizers and some members of the community.

NIALA: What about cities that are still inviting police? Is that still happening too?

RUSSELL: Yes, there's a division, say like in Seattle - Seattle Pride will still allow officers to participate in the parade. Salt Lake City, the police will be marching and the Des Moines police are welcome to participate in this year's Capital City Pride Parade, but it's still unknown whether officers will accept this offer. What's interesting, Niala is that the discussion about police - We're actually going back to the origins of Pride events. You remember Pride came out of the 1969 Stonewall riots also known as the Stonewall Uprising in New York. This happened after police raided a gay club and gay and transgender people fought back.

The uprising sparked what we call now the modern gay rights movement. The day after this riot or uprising members of the Black Panther Party came to join gay protests and they said, “Look, we find ourselves in solidarity with our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters who are protesting this over-policing. And it's interesting how things are coming back around.

NIALA: The bigger picture here also, Russ, is we're seeing a number of anti-LGBTQ legislation happening in various states across the country. Has that also changed the tone of these events?

RUSSELL: That's right. If you remember, when the George Floyd protests were hitting the streets in the summer of 2020, many people were expressing concern that employers weren't letting workers participate in the George Floyd protests. They knew it was too political, but yet they could participate in Pride events or attend Pride events. People saw them as nonpolitical. That division is now gone. Because of these anti-trans laws that are being proposed and passed in various states, now Pride events, Pride parades are recapturing some of the political overtones. They are seen now as we're going to hold this Pride parade not just to commemorate Stonewall, but also to fight back against these anti-trans bills.

NIALA: Axios’ Russell Contreras from Albuquerque. Thanks Russ.

RUSSELL: Thanks for having me.

NIALA: Before we go today: we want to hear from teachers. Between the pandemic, school shootings and stagnant wages, how are you doing? Are you or have you considered changing careers? What support do you have…or do you need? Send me a voicememo with your response. We’ll talk about teachers on the show later this week and may use your reply.

I’m Niala Boodhoo - thanks for listening - stay safe and we’ll see you back here tomorrow morning.

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