Jul 20, 2022 - Politics & Policy

187 minutes: Jan. 6 hearing to show Trump's deliberate inaction

President Donald Trump speaks to supporters from The Ellipse near the White House on January 6, 2021
President Donald Trump speaks to supporters from The Ellipse near the White House on January 6, 2021. Photo: Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images

The Jan. 6 committee on Thursday will walk through, in detail, former President Trump's reported inaction during the 187 minutes that a violent mob attacked the Capitol, aiming to show that he deliberately chose not to intervene.

The big picture: Using recorded and in-person testimony, the committee will highlight evidence that Trump was fully briefed and aware of the events that were unfolding in real time on Jan. 6, and despite pleas from people inside and out of the White House, he waited several hours to intervene.

  • "One of the main points that we're going to make here is that President Trump ... was the sole person who could call off the mob, and he chose not to," a select committee aide told reporters.

What to expect: During the primetime 8 p.m. hearing, the committee will "demonstrate who was talking to [Trump] and what they were urging him to do in that time period," the committee said.

  • "We're going to talk about when he was made aware of what was going on in the Capitol. We're going to hear testimony from individuals who spoke to the president."
  • In-person testimony from those in the West Wing, including from former deputy national security advisor Matthew Pottinger and deputy press secretary Sarah Matthews, will detail what the president, his aides, his allies and his family were doing while the rioters were inside the Capitol.
  • The committee says they also have evidence showing how around the time Trump released a recorded video telling his supporters to finally "go home," it was clear the insurrection would fail.

The aftermath: The committee will also walk through what happened in the West Wing after the mob left, and the fallout the next day.

Witnesses: Video-taped testimony of former White House Counsel Pat Cipollone will play a crucial role in Thursday's hearing.

  • Cipollone had warned the president and his closest advisors in the days before and on Jan. 6 of the legal implications that would accompany Trump's urging of his armed supporters to march to Capitol Hill and protest the counting of electoral votes.
  • Pottinger, a former journalist who was brought onto Trump's National Security Council by former national security adviser Michael Flynn, is also a significant witness.
  • He's highly respected on both sides of the aisle and was the architect of many of Trump’s tough-on-China policies. His testimony cannot be treated lightly or easily dismissed by those in Trumpworld.
  • Both Pottinger and Matthews resigned in the immediate aftermath of Jan. 6.

What to watch: Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) will be chairing the hearing virtually after testing positive for coronavirus earlier this week.

  • Reps. Elaine Luria (D-Va.) and Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) will lead Thursday's presentation.
  • Vice Chair Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), will also play a key role.
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