House Panel to Analyze Conspiracy Theories That Led to Capitol Attack

The House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021 insurrection will meet again Monday to examine conspiracy theories that led a group of Donald Trump supporters to attack the US Capitol.

The committee’s Democratic chairman, Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson, said the second hearing will focus on “the lies that convinced these men and others to storm the Capitol to try to stop the transfer of power.”

“We’re going to take a close look at the first part of Trump’s attack on the rule of law, when he lit the fuse that ultimately resulted in the violence on January 6,” Thompson said Thursday.

The select committee said before the hearing that the panel would focus on how Trump accepted unsubstantiated claims of a stolen election starting on Election Night, when he falsely declared victory over Joe Biden, and capitalized on those claims in the weeks following.

Trump was repeatedly told on election night that he didn’t have the numbers to win, the panel is expected to say, based on live testimony from former Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien and former Fox News political editor, Chris Stirewalt.

The select committee will then show how Trump accepted allegations of voter fraud despite being told otherwise by top officials, listening to former U.S. Attorney BJay Pak, who resigned when told Trump would fire him for not pushing harder as the fraud happened in Georgia.

Trump was required to file legal challenges if he believed there was fraud, the panel will say, and also to accept the decisions of the courts (he lost virtually all cases), but instead chose to attack the “rule of law.”

The select committee said it would also show how Trump and the Republican political establishment used those baseless claims to collect millions of dollars from unsuspecting Americans in fundraising, and how the attack on Capitol Hill was fueled by those claims perpetuated by Trump.

Monday’s hearing, which will last about two hours and see select committee member Zoe Lofgren take a lead role in cross-examining witnesses in place of the committee’s attorney, comes four days after the panel held its first primetime audience.

In that first session, the select committee presented shocking and at times emotional testimony from key witnesses who spoke to investigators over the past year as they conducted the first stage of their investigation behind closed doors in Washington.

Members of Trump’s inner circle testified that the former president was repeatedly told that his claims of widespread fraud in the 2020 election that deprived him of victory over Democrat Joe Biden were completely unfounded, but he continued to spread those lies in the weeks leading up to it. to the insurrection. .

“I made it clear that I did not agree with the idea of ​​saying the election was stolen and publishing these things, which I told the president was nonsense,” William Barr, Trump’s former attorney general, told investigators in a shared video. Thursday.

Last week’s hearing laid the groundwork for the committee’s argument that Trump played a central role in planning the insurrection and bears personal responsibility for the deadly attack. A mob invaded the US Capitol on January 6 last year, the day Congress was supposed to officially certify Biden’s victory over Trump in the previous November’s presidential election.

The remaining five hearings are expected to build on that argument, as committee members try to make a thorough case of Trump’s guilt.

“On the morning of January 6, President Donald Trump’s intention was to remain President of the United States despite the legal outcome of the 2020 election and in violation of his constitutional obligation to relinquish power,” said the congresswoman from Wyoming Liz Cheney, Republican Vice President. of the committee, she said Thursday.

“For several months, Donald Trump oversaw and coordinated a sophisticated seven-part plan to nullify the presidential election and prevent the transfer of presidential power. At our hearings, you will see evidence of every element of this plan.”

Monday’s hearing will give committee members another chance to convince the country that American democracy is under threat from those who don’t believe in free and fair elections.

The panel has accused Trump and his associates of engaging in a “criminal conspiracy” and argues that the former president bears personal responsibility for the deadly attack on the US Capitol.

Although Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives for inciting insurrection, he was acquitted by the Senate, leaving many of his critics to feel that he was not being held accountable for his actions.

If the committee is successful in building its case against Trump, the hearings could deal a devastating blow to the former president’s hopes of making a political comeback in the 2024 presidential election. But if Americans are unmoved by the committee’s findings, the The country faces the specter of another coup attempt, Thompson warned.

“Our democracy is still in danger. The conspiracy to frustrate the will of the people is not over,” Thompson said Thursday. “January 6 and the lies that led to the insurrection have put two and a half centuries of constitutional democracy at risk. The world is watching what we do here.”

Hugo Lowell contributed to this report

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