The House select committee’s series of public hearings resumed Tuesday as the panel continued to present findings stemming from its investigation of the events surrounding the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.
Much of Tuesday’s hearing centered on a tweet sent by former President Donald Trump the morning of Dec. 19, 2020, in which he called on his supporters to come to Washington for a protest on Jan. 6 that, he promised, “will be wild.”
Before sending the tweet that House investigators said would “galvanize” his followers to storm the Capitol on Jan. 6, Trump hosted an explosive meeting at the White House where competing factions butted heads on whether the then-president should accept election defeat or keep pushing unfounded conspiracy theories.
Former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, Giuliani associate Sidney Powell and former Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne were secretly ushered into the White House on the evening of Dec. 18 “by a junior staffer,” according to evidence gathered by the select committee.
The group was quickly intercepted by Trump’s White House lawyers, including former counsel Pat Cipollone and deputy counsel Eric Herschmann. Over the next six hours, the two sides fought passionately over whether Trump should accept his loss or keep pushing to overturn the election.
The panel also revealed the draft of an undated tweet it obtained from the National Archives which suggests the former president was planning to explicitly direct his followers to march to the Capitol before he did so in the rally speech that preceded the attack.
Witnesses Tuesday included Jason Van Tatenhove, a former spokesperson for the Oath Keepers, a far-right militia involved in the insurrection, who said the violence on Jan. 6 could have been far worse.
“We’ve gotten exceedingly lucky that more bloodshed did not happen, because the potential has been there from the start,” Van Tatenhove said. “And we got very lucky that the loss of life — as tragic as it is — that we saw on January 6, that the potential was so much more.”
It also featured in-person testimony from Stephen Ayres, who pleaded guilty last month to disorderly conduct in connection with the Capitol attack.
After the hearing, Ayres apologized to the Capitol Police officers in attendance for the violence that occurred on that day.
Tuesday's hearing opened with Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., the panel’s vice chair, saying the idea Trump was “incapable of telling right from wrong” while perpetuating election falsehoods that fueled the attack on the U.S. Capitol riot is “nonsense.”
“President Trump is a 76-year-old man,” Cheney said. “He is not an impressionable child. Just like everyone else in our country, he is responsible for his own actions and his own choices.”
It concluded with Cheney revealing that Trump tried to reach a witness by phone in the House committee’s investigation.
Trump placed a call to the witness after the panel's last hearing, which took place on June 28, but the witness did not take the call, Cheney said. Instead, the witness alerted their lawyer, who then alerted the Jan. 6 committee. The committee referred Trump’s call to the Justice Department.