What Can We Expect from Televised January 6 Committee Hearings?

What Can We Expect from Televised January 6 Committee Hearings?

Almost a year after it began, the House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack is set to televise public hearings into the deadly 2020 breach of the U.S. Capitol. Starting June 9, the panel will likely hold eight hearings altogether, with at least a few of them in prime time, over a two-week period.

Committee Chair, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) has not revealed the witness list yet, but there have been hints, thanks in part to press leaks, into what we can expect.

Raskin: The Worst Political Offense in History

Committee member, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), tweeted on April 29, “We now have evidence to support the story of the worst presidential political offense against the Union in American history. The @January6thCmte hearings in June will expose every facet of the assault against our democracy and Constitution on 1/6.”

Chairman Thompson said they’ll choose from “the tens of thousands of exhibits” they’ve accumulated, along with the “hundreds” of witnesses they’ve questioned, to “tell the story of what happened.”

He also said the panel plans to release a full report in early fall.

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Cheney Likely to Be Out Front

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), who was the number-three ranked House Republican before her colleagues stripped her of her leadership role in 2021 for calling out Trump’s false election claims, is expected to take a prominent role in the public hearings.

Placing her up front would counter some Republicans’ claims that the Committee is a partisan witch hunt.  She and Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger are the two Republicans on the Committee.

Meanwhile, Cheney has reportedly been more aggressive than most other members, including Democrats, about keeping the heat on Trump, such as pressuring former Trump aides to cooperate.

“Representative Cheney’s view is that security at the Capitol is a critical part of the investigation, but the Capitol didn’t attack itself,” said her spokesman, Jeremy Adler.

To what degree the public hearings will focus on the potential criminality of Trump’s actions, however, remains in question, according to Committee member, Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL).

Top Pence January 6 Adviser Expected to Testify

J. Michael Luttig, a former federal judge who furnished then-Vice President Pence with his legal argument for rejecting then-President Trump’s request to overturn the 2020 Election results, is expected to testify during the public hearings.

Luttig is set to describe what was at stake on January 6, 2021, and then further give his view on the present state of American democracy.

An April 27 op-ed he wrote for CNN.com gives a glimpse into what he’s likely to say in testimony. In it, he writes, “That objective is not somehow to rescind the 2020 election, as they would have us believe. That’s constitutionally impossible. Trump’s and the Republicans’ far more ambitious objective is to execute successfully in 2024 the very same plan they failed in executing in 2020 and to overturn the 2024 election if Trump or his anointed successor loses again in the next quadrennial contest.”

He added, “The last presidential election was a dry run for the next.

Former Pence Chief of Staff Marc Short and former Pence Chief Counsel Greg Jacob have also reportedly been asked to testify.

GOP January 6 Consultant: Meadows Texts “A Horror”

The Committee has access to numerous text messages to then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows on January 6 from fellow Republicans, pleading with him to get Trump to condemn the violence and tell the mob to go home.

But more than that, on Wednesday, a former GOP Congressman who helped the Committee link text messages that were sent to and from Meadows leading up to January 6 told CNN, many of those he read were such “a horror” that he “actually had to get away from the computer a couple times.”

“It wasn’t just the spiritual warfare coupled with QAnon type of religiosity types of conspiracy theories,” said former Rep. Denver Riggleman (R-VA). “It was the fact that nobody pushed back. Or they would tacitly agree. Or they would say, ‘This is the plan that we need to do.'”

Will We See New White House Photos?

The Committee has reportedly obtained a batch of photos from official White House photographer Shealah Craighead, including images taken on January 6, via the National Archives. They may provide real-time visual evidence of Trump’s actions as the mob stormed the Capitol that day, including during the seven-and-a-half-hour gap in his phone logs.

Chairman Thompson confirmed that the panel had obtained some of Craighead’s photos but declined to describe their content. Asked whether the panel had spoken to Craighead as a direct witness, Thompson said, “Not yet.”

Will We Hear from Subpoenaed House Members?

The Committee has subpoenaed five of their Republican colleagues—including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), who has so far ignored the order to testify.

McCarthy reportedly spoke by phone with Trump on January 6, and audio recordings from January 10 have revealed that the Minority Leader was concerned about comments by his far-right colleagues inciting more violence.

When asked whether the Committee might hold their fellow Representatives in contempt of Congress, Rep. Kinzinger said Sunday, “Trust me, every day we’re talking about what to do if these members don’t comply with a subpoena. So, we’ll see.”

Could the January 6 Committee’s Work Lead to Convictions?

While Congress itself can’t convict, the U.S. Department of Justice, through its separate investigation, has already prosecuted more than 800 people for January 6-related acts. However, the Committee could send any evidence it believes shows criminal wrongdoing to the DOJ.

Last month, the DOJ asked the Committee for transcripts of its witness depositions. Chairman Thompson has so far declined, saying, “It’s the Committee’s work product.” But he added that he was open to letting DOJ officials come and view the requested materials, much like other government and state authorities have done.

Will the Hearings Change Public Minds?

An April 24-28 Washington Post-ABC News poll found that 52% of Americans want to see Trump criminally charged for his part in January 6, versus 42% who believe he should not face charges. That breaks along party lines, with 88% of Democrats, 56% of Independents, and 11% of Republicans wanting to see the former President face charges.

Further, 68% of Democrats say the January 6 Committee is conducting a fair investigation while 69% Republicans say it’s unfair.

However, the public hearings may have opportunity to sway some minds, as 20% of those Americans polled said they had no opinion over whether the investigation was fair or unfair.

Read more exclusive news from Political IQ.