'Our democracy remains in danger': Rep. Bennie Thompson opens Jan. 6 hearing

On Thursday, House select committee Chairman Rep.​ Bennie Thompson, D-Miss, introduced the first in a series of televised hearings stemming from an 11-month probe of the events surrounding the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, including the actions of then-President Donald Trump and his allies. In his opening remarks, Thompson said, "The American people deserve answers. So I come before you this evening not as a Democrat, but as an American who swore an oath to defend the Constitution." He continued, "We must confront the truth with candor, resolve, and determination. We need to show that we are worthy of the gifts that are the birthright of every American.”

Video transcript

BENNIE THOMPSON: January 6th was the culmination of an attempted coup. A brazen attempt, as one rioter put it shortly after January 6th, to overthrow the government. The violence was no accident. It represents Trump's last stand, most desperate chance to halt the transfer of power.

So tonight and over the next few weeks, we're going to remind you of the reality of what happened that day. But our work must do much more than just look backwards.

Because our democracy remains in danger. The conspiracy to thwart the will of the people is not over. There are those in this audience who thirst for power, but have no love or respect for what makes America great: devotion to the Constitution, allegiance to the rule of law, our shared journey to build a more perfect union.

January 6th and the lies that led to insurrection have put two and a half centuries of constitutional democracy at risk. The world is watching what we do here. America has long been expected to be a shining city on the hill. A beacon of hope and freedom. A model for others when we are at our best.

How can we play that role when our house is in such disorder? We must confront the truth with candor, resolve, and determination. We need to show that we are worthy of the gifts that are the birthright of every American. That begins here and it begins now with a true accounting of what happened and what led to the attack on our Constitution and our democracy. In this moment, when the dangers of our Constitution and our democracy loom large, nothing could be more important.

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