The biggest takeaways from the Jan. 6 committee's hearings

The U.S. House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the U.S. Capitol in a hearing on Oct. 13. Pool Photo by Jonathan Ernst/UPI
The U.S. House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the U.S. Capitol in a hearing on Oct. 13. Pool Photo by Jonathan Ernst/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 26 (UPI) -- When the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, riots at the U.S. Capitol voted unanimously to subpoena former President Donald Trump earlier this month, it capped a compelling series of hearings that revealed the inner workings of the plot to overturn the 2020 election.

In summarizing their findings, Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said that the facts were clear that Trump orchestrated a multi-part plan to overturn the results of the 2020 Presidential election.


Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, one of only two Republicans on the panel and its vice chair, said that the evidence showed Trump was at the center of this plot.

"The vast weight of evidence presented so far has shown us that the central cause of Jan. 6 was one man: Donald Trump, who many others followed," Cheney said. "None of this would have happened without him, he was personally and substantially involved in all of it."


Here are the biggest takeaways from the hearings.

Trump Refused to Condemn Violence

During its eighth public hearing on July 21, the committee heard testimony from multiple former White House officials who said Trump was unmoved for hours by the many pleas from aides, lawmakers, friends and family members to intervene during the Capitol attack.

RELATED Jan. 6 committee to interview former Trump adviser Hope Hicks

Sarah Matthews and Matthew Pottinger, two former White House aides, both said that they argued with colleagues and Trump that he should condemn the violence.

"I motioned up at the TV and I said, 'Do you think it looks like we're f-ing winning? Because I don't think it does,'" Matthews said. "And I again reiterated that I thought that the president needed to condemn the violence because it didn't matter if it was coming from the left or the right that you should condemn violence 100% of the time."

Matthews also said she was struck by the fact that Trump chose to open his video telling the rioters to leave by "pushing the lie that there was a stolen election" and that it was disturbing that he told the rioters "We love you, you're very special," as he did not distinguish between those who engaged in the violence and those who did not.


Former White House counsel Pat Cipollone also told the committee in private testimony that Trump was alone in refusing to take further action to send the rioters home.

"I can't think of anybody on that day who didn't want people to get out of the Capitol ... particularly once the violence started," Cipollone said.

Trump and the Secret Service

On June 28, Cassidy Hutchinson -- a former aide to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows -- gave infamous testimony that Trump demanded to go to the Capitol after his speech at the Ellipse on Jan. 6.

Hutchinson detailed Trump's anger in the moments after his speech as his supporters then marched on the Capitol. She said she learned what happened inside the presidential limo -- known as "the Beast" -- from Secret Service official Tony Ornato. Secret Service agent Bobby Engel was also involved in the conversation and had been in the vehicle with Trump.

"Tony proceeded to tell me that when the president got in the Beast, he was under the impression from Mr. Meadows that the off-the-record movement to the Capitol was still possible and likely to happen, but Bobby had more information."


She said Engel told Trump they couldn't take him to the Capitol because it wasn't safe.

"The president had a very strong, very angry response to that. Tony described him as being irate. The president said something to the effect of, 'I'm the effing president, take me to the Capitol now.'

"Bobby responded, 'Sir, we have to go back to the West Wing,'" Hutchinson added.

"The president reached up toward the front of the vehicle to grab at the steering wheel. Mr. Engel grabbed his arm and said, 'Sir, you need to take your hand off the steering wheel. We're going back to the West wing. We're not going to the Capitol.'

Mr. Trump then used his free hand to lunge towards Bobby Engel and when Mr. Ornato recounted this story to me, he motioned toward his clavicles."

Voter Fraud

During its Oct. 13 hearing, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., said that Trump and his allies had plans to contest the election before it even happened, and they planned to use voter fraud as their excuse.

"The evidence shows that his false victory speech was planned well in advance," Lofgren said.

Lofgren also said that conservative activist Tom Fitton had drafted a memo on Oct. 31, 2020, saying that Trump won the election.


"We had an election today -- and I won," Fitton's memo read, and indicates a plan that only the votes "counted by the Election Day deadline" would matter.

The committee played clips from a documentary by Danish filmmaker Christoffer Guldbrandsen, which shows Trump adviser Roger Stone advocating for declaring victory and preparing for violence ahead of the election.

Election Lies Debunked

Several state election officials and workers told the committee that Trump's claims about the election being stolen were lies that disrupted their lives.

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said his office investigated "every single allegation" made by Trump about the election and found no evidence of widespread fraud.

"Numbers don't lie," Raffensperger told the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.

"We had many allegations and we investigated every single one of them. I challenged my team: 'Did we miss anything?'"

The committee played segments of a phone call between Trump and Raffensperger in which the president asked the secretary of state to "find" the 11,780 votes he needed to defeat Joe Biden.

Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers, a Republican, said Trump called him in late December 2020 asking him to interfere in the Electoral College process. Trump's legal counsel, John Eastman also urged Bowers to "just do it and let the courts sort it out."


Bowers said he had to endure protests outside his home, as well as friends turning on him. He said the demonstrations disturbed his wife and daughter, who was "gravely ill" at the time.

Gabriel Sterling, the chief operating officer in Raffensperger's office, said his own family argued with him about the election results."

The problem you have is you're getting at people's hearts," he said, later adding, "Once you get past the heart, the facts don't matter as much."

Trump's Attorney General William Barr said there was no evidence of fraud and the Homeland Security Department said the 2020 vote was the "most secure election in history."

Trump Subpoena

On Oct. 21 the committee formally issued its subpoena to Trump. The subpoena orders Trump to participate in "one or more days of deposition testimony beginning on or about Nov. 14," a historic move which -- while not without precedent -- would test the power to compel a former president to answer questions before a legislative panel.

"We recognize that a subpoena to a former president is a significant and historic action. We do not take this action lightly," the subpoena reads.

Trump is also ordered to produce relevant documentation, including all phone calls, text messages and communications "sent through signal or any other means," placed or received by him or at his direction on Jan. 6, 2021. Any such communications he had with members of Congress between Dec. 18, 2020 and Jan. 6, 2021, relating to the presidential election are also ordered.


If Trump does not comply with the subpoena, Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., vice chairwoman of the committee, said lawmakers would take further steps.

House committee holds eighth hearing on Jan. 6 Capitol attack

Former deputy national security adviser Matthew Pottinger (L) and former White House deputy press secretary Sarah Matthews are sworn in July 21, 2022 to testify before the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. Photo by Pat Benic/UPI | License Photo

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