US lawmakers hold first public hearing on January 6 Capitol attack
© Wikimedia (Tyler Merbler)
US lawmakers hold first public hearing on January 6 Capitol attack

A select committee of the US House of Representatives Thursday held its first public hearing regarding the January 6th attack on the US Capitol, releasing previously unseen footage from the attack.

The Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the US Capitol broadcasted its proceedings on primetime television. The hearing included the testimonies of Capitol Police officer Caroline Edwards and documentary filmmaker Nick Quested, who was filming the far-right Proud Boys leading up to and during the attack.

The hearing opened with video of Trump campaign officials giving statements to committee investigators, testifying that Trump directed them to find evidence of fraud during the 2020 presidential election. Some officials, including former Attorney General William Barr, told Trump that they could not find any evidence of fraud or that any fraud that may have occurred would not have changed the outcome of the election.

Ranking Member Rep. Liz Cheney cited a March 2022 court case where Trump advisor and law professor John Eastman attempted to claim attorney-client privilege over 111 documents requested by the committee. Eastman, coordinating with Trump, tried to pressure Vice President Mike Pence to refuse to certify some state election results. Finding that 101 of the Trump-Eastman documents were not privileged, Judge David Carter said “If Dr. Eastman and President Trump’s plan had worked, it would have permanently ended the peaceful transition of power, undermining American democracy and the Constitution.”

The committee also released video footage that showed masses of protesters storming over police barricades, breaking their way into the Capitol by smashing windows, entering House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office en-masse, and attacking police officers with various objects including pepper spray. The footage was paired with footage of Trump during the rally shortly before the storming where he publicly encouraged Pence to overturn the election results.

Edwards testified that she was protecting the perimeter of the capitol when Proud Boy Joseph Biggs, who was charged with seditious conspiracy, led a charge on police barricades. This led to Edwards being hit in the head with a bike rack and falling unconscious.

Quested said that he was filming the Proud Boys for a documentary on January 5 and 6. Quested filmed Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio and Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes meeting in a parking garage the night before the attack. Both men were later charged with seditious conspiracy. He then followed the Proud Boys to the Capitol before Trump began speaking, where they remained throughout Trump’s speech.

This is the first of three scheduled public hearings by the select committee, but more will likely be added in the future.