Tuesday Reads: Jan. 6 Committee Surprise Hearing

Good Morning!!

Yesterday, after the January 6 Committee announced a surprise hearing for today at 1PM, I was glued to Twitter trying to get clues to what could be coming. By late last night, news had leaked that the surprise witness is Cassidy Hutchinson, a top aide to Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows. Dakinikat stayed up later than I did, and she texted me a more detailed account of what the committee may be planning to reveal by Hugo Lowell of The Guardian (more below).

Background info on Hutchinson from The Washington Post: Who is Cassidy Hutchinson?

Cassidy Hutchinson, an aide to Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, has become one of the most useful witnesses for the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob determined to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s win.

cassidy-hutchinson_hpMain_20220628-012908_16x9_1600

Cassidy Hutchinson

She has spoken to investigators on the committee multiple times behind closed doors. In the absence of testimony from Meadows himself — he refused to appear, and the committee held him in contempt — Hutchinson seems to be key to understanding the scope of his actions….

Hutchinson was by Meadows’s side leading up to and during the Capitol attack and has told the committee of strategy sessions held between the White House and President Donald Trump’s allies in Congress about whether they should encourage “Stop the Steal” participants to march to the Capitol, and how to set up alternative slates of electors.

The Washington Post reported that she confirmed to the committee that at one point Meadows said Trump had indicated support for protesters who were shouting, “Hang Mike Pence!”

Videotaped testimony from Hutchinson was also central to allegations of pardon-hunting by Republican House members. The allegations were aired by the committee at Thursday’s hearing.

Hutchinson testified that she was involved with conversations about requests from Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) and Scott Perry (R-Pa.), all of whom she said had sought a promise from the White House to be cleared in advance of any crimes they might be charged with. Perry had previously denied seeking a pardon, but Hutchinson insisted in her deposition that he had spoken to her directly about it….

According to a court filing in April, Hutchinson told congressional investigators that Meadows was warned before Jan. 6 about the threat of violence that day as supporters of Trump planned to mass at the U.S. Capitol.

Hutchinson recalled that Anthony Ornato, a senior Secret Service official who also held the role of a political adviser at the White House, “coming in and saying that we had intel reports saying that there could potentially be violence on the 6th. And Mr. Meadows said: All right. Let’s talk about it.”

Hutchinson added, “I’m not sure if he — what he did with that information internally.”

Read more about her at the WaPo. We don’t know what further information Hutchinson plans to share with the committee, but the reason they want her to testify ASAP is because she has faced threats and perhaps could be subject to witness tampering.

Dakinikat sent me this article late last night:

From the Guardian:

The House select committee investigating the January 6 Capitol attack is closely focused on phone calls and conversations among Donald Trump’s children and top aides captured by a documentary film-maker weeks before the 2020 election, say sources familiar with the matter.

The calls among Trump’s children and top aides took place at an invitation-only event at the Trump International hotel in Washington that took place the night of the first presidential debate on 29 September 2020, the sources said.

The select committee is interested in the calls, the sources said, since the footage is understood to show the former president’s children, including Donald Jr and Eric Trump, privately discussing strategies about the election at a crucial time in the presidential campaign.

House investigators first learned about the event, hosted by the Trump campaign, and the existence of the footage through British film-maker Alex Holder, who testified about what he and his crew recorded during a two-hour interview last week, the sources said….

The select committee is closely focused on the footage of the event – in addition to the content of the one-on-one interviews with Trump and Ivanka – because the discussions about strategies mirror similar conversations at that time by top Trump advisors.

On the night of the first presidential debate, Trump’s top former strategist Steve Bannon said in an interview with The Circus on Showtime that the outcome of the election would be decided at the state level and eventually at the congressional certification on January 6.

“They’re going to try and overturn this election with uncertified votes,” Bannon said. Asked how he expects the election to end, Bannon said: “Right before noon on the 20th, in a vote in the House, Trump will win the presidency.”

The select committee believes that ideas such as Bannon’s were communicated to advisers to Donald Jr and his fiancee, Kimberly Guilfoyle, even before the 2020 election had taken place, the sources said – leading House investigators to want to review the Trump hotel footage.

What appears to interest the panel is whether Trump and his children had planned to somehow stop the certification of the election on January 6 – a potential violation of federal law – and to force a contingent election if Trump lost as early as September.

Before the news about the surprise committee hearing broke yesterday, the big story was that John Eastman’s phone was seized by federal agents on the same day that federal agents searched Jeffrey Clark’s home last week. 

John Eastman, the attorney who developed Donald Trump’s last-ditch strategy to seize a second term, said in court Monday that he had his phone seized by federal agents last week.

In a court filing in federal court in New Mexico, Eastman indicated he was confronted by agentswhen leaving a restaurant. He’s moving for a judge to order his phone returned.

“The federal agents identified themselves as FBI agents, but they appeared to be executing a warrant issued at the behest of the Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General,” Eastman’s lawyer, Charles Burnham, wrote in the 13-page filing.

Eastman accompanied the filing with a copy of the search warrant, authorized by a federal magistrate judge in Albuquerque.

jeffrey-clark-january-6-donald-trump-fbi

Jeffrey Clark

A legal adviser to Trump’s campaign, Eastman has been a central figure in the Capitol riot committee’s case that the former president attempted to block the peaceful transfer of power on Jan. 6, 2021. A federal judge in California has previously ruled that Eastman and Trump “likely” entered a criminal conspiracy to obstruct the counting of electoral votes on Jan. 6.

The search of Eastman’s phone appears to have come amid a flurry of activity by federal prosecutors probing the Jan. 6 attack and efforts by Trump allies to authorize false slates of electors as part of a plan to overturn the 2020 election.

Last week, subpoenas were served on a slew of those false electors, including at least three state Republican Party chairs. Investigators also searched the Lorton, Va., home of former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark, another critical player in Trump’s efforts.

As a number of legal experts have pointed out, in order to get a search warrant for Eastman’s phone, the government would have to convince a judge that there is probable cause to believe the device contains evidence of a crime. Since the search was initiated by the DOJ Inspector General, the information likely relates to the case against Jeffrey Clark, a former DOJ employee.

I’m going to end there for now. I will post any further news I find in the comment thread. We’ll soon know what the committee believes is so important they are holding an unscheduled meeting three days before the Fourth of July break.


Thursday Reads

Timothy Horn, Leaving Kansas

Timothy Horn, Leaving Kansas

Good Morning!!

The 5th January 6 hearing will be held today at 3PM. The planned 6th hearing has now been postponed until after the July 4th break, and there will be at least 2 more hearings in July. Today the committee will focus on Trump’s attempts to get the Department of Justice to help him overturn the 2020 election results. Republican Adam Kinzinger will take the lead today.

NPR: Who you’ll hear from and what to expect in today’s Jan. 6 House committee hearing.

Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and former Acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue are among Thursday’s witnesses. Both refused to give in to Trump’s efforts to get the DOJ to advance his fraudulent claims of voter fraud and overturn the election.

When former Attorney General Bill Barr announced his resignation in December 2020, Trump badgered Rosen and Donoghue in at least nine calls and meetings, according to a report by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“Just say the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the Republican congressmen,” Trump told the two men, according to their testimony.

Also to appear in Thursday’s hearing is Steven Engel, who headed DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel. Engel was one of the officials who told the former president he would have no choice but to quit if Trump replaced the acting attorney general with environmental lawyer Jeffrey Bossert Clark. Clark was reportedly more willing to go along with Trump’s fraudulent claims of a stolen election.

Several other DOJ lawyers, including Donoghue, also threatened to quit if Clark was appointed.

“The President said ‘Suppose I do this. Suppose I replace him, Jeff Rosen, with him, Jeff Clark. What do you do?’ And I said ‘Sir, I would resign immediately. There is no way I’m serving one minute under this guy, Jeff Clark,'” Donoghue said in a piece of video testimony played at Tuesday’s hearing.

Clark appeared before the House committee in February for a deposition, but pled the Fifth dozens of times.

Horn-Timothy-e1460054648141

Timothy Horn

More from CNN: What to watch for in Thursday’s January 6 committee hearing.

Three top officials who led the Justice Department in the final days of the Trump administration will testify at Thursday’s hearing at 3pm ET about how the then-President and his allies sought to enlist the department to give their baseless fraud allegations credibility and how Trump considered replacing the acting attorney general with an official who bought into his claims of fraud, according to committee aides.

Aides said that the hearing would also scrutinize discussions inside the White House about the appointment of a special counsel to investigate Trump’s claims of voter fraud, which came up at a heated December 2020 Oval Office meeting with Sidney Powell and Trump’s first national security adviser, Michael Flynn.

But the main focus of the hearing will be Jeffrey Clark:

Committee aides said the hearing would focus on the role that Clark played inside the Justice Department pushing Trump’s false claims of fraud. Clark planned to “reverse the department’s investigative conclusions regarding election fraud,” according to committee aides, and wanted to send out letters to states suggesting there had been fraud.

His push was swiftly rejected by Rosen and Donoghue, which led to the Oval Office showdown where Trump considered putting Clark in charge of the department.

While serving as the acting head of civil cases at the Justice Department at the end of the Trump presidency, Clark floated plans to give Georgia’s legislature and other states backing to undermine the popular vote results. He gave credence to unfounded conspiracy theories of voter fraud, according to documents from the Justice Department, and communicated with Trump about becoming the attorney general, a Senate investigation found this month.

The extent of Clark’s talks with Trump in the days before January 6 aren’t yet publicly known.

Ryan J. Reilly at NBC News: Who is Jeffrey Clark? Jan. 6 panel seeks to make Trump’s man at DOJ famous.

Clark took a pretty standard path for a conservative lawyer: Harvard University, Georgetown Law, clerk for Ronald Reagan-appointed federal appeals Judge Danny Julian Boggs and a partnership at the law firm Kirkland & Ellis, with a stint in the Justice Department’s environmental division during George W. Bush’s administration. His unusually long Justice Department biography even included, for some reason, details about his elementary school….

Timothy Horn, Blue Bug

Timothy Horn, Blue Bug (shadow selfie)

After the 2020 election, according to his fellow Republican-appointed colleagues at the Justice Department, Clark began to elicit concerns.

“What’s going on with Jeff Clark?” Trump-appointed acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen recalled in an interview with the Senate Judiciary Committee. He added that Clark brought up “internet theories” about voting machines’ being hacked via smart thermostats. “This is inconsistent with how I perceived him in the past.”

Rosen started realizing something was “off-kilter,” that “something odd was going on with Jeff Clark,” when it was learned that he had, in violation of a Justice Department rule banning contact between Justice Department officials and the White House except through proper channels, met with Trump.

“It’s even more evident in hindsight, but at the time, I did think, ‘He’s meeting with the president and now he wants to be briefed by the DNI on thermostats?’ plus the title change. Just what is going on here with Jeff Clark?” [….]

Clark is still on the Trump train and is still a conspiracy theorist.

Previous testimony indicates Clark was a true believer who was convinced the election had been stolen. To his colleagues at the Justice Department, according to the testimony, he was the butt of the joke, a guy who — in spite of his education — lacked the ability to discern fact from fiction on the World Wide Web….

Clark has continued to be a presence in MAGA world. He has an account with a few hundred followers on Truth Social, Trump’s social media platform, where his Trump-mimicking handle is @RealJeffClark.

He has said the Jan. 6 committee is “power drunk and unconstitutional,” and he has shared stories from the conspiracy website Gateway Pundit, including a story about the debunked propaganda movie “2000 Mules.” He has written for the conspiracy website Revolver News about what he described as efforts to “Kill All the Trump Lawyers — By Canceling Them.” He’s making appearances on Steve Bannon’s “War Room” podcast. And he’s trying to raise money, telling would-be donors that he has “been targeted for cancellation by the hyper-partisan January 6 Committee, the ‘mainstream’ media, and a collection of leftist law professors and supposed ‘Republicans’ who are conveniently never-Trumpers.”

congregation1824s

Timothy Horn

The hearing should be interesting. According to Luke Broadwater of The New York Times,

The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol plans to unveil new evidence on Thursday about how President Donald J. Trump tried to manipulate the Justice Department to help him cling to power after he lost the 2020 election, aides said on Wednesday….

The story of how Mr. Trump attempted to intervene in the workings of the Justice Department to keep himself in office has been well documented by both the Senate Judiciary Committee and the House Jan. 6 committee, but aides to the House inquiry said Thursday’s hearing will contain new revelations.

Meanwhile, the current DOJ has stepped up its investigation of Trump’s efforts to get state legislatures to submit “alternate” slates of electors from swing states that Biden won.

The Washington Post: Jan. 6 probe expands with fresh subpoenas in multiple states.

Federal agents investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol on Wednesdaydropped subpoenas on people in multiple locations, widening the probe of how political activists supporting President Donald Trump tried to use invalid electors to thwart Joe Biden’s 2020 electoral victory.

Agents conducted court-authorized law enforcement activity Wednesday morning at different locations, FBI officials confirmed to The Washington Post. One was the home of Brad Carver, a Georgia lawyer who allegedly signed a document claiming to be a Trump elector. The other was the Virginia home of Thomas Lane, who worked on the Trump campaign’s efforts in Arizona and New Mexico. The FBI officials did not identify the people associated with those addresses, but public records list each of the locations as the home addresses of the men.

Among those who received a subpoena Wednesday was David Shafer, the chairman of the Georgia Republican Party, who served as a Trump elector in that state, people familiar with the investigation said. Shafer’s lawyer declined to comment.

Separately, at least some of the would-be Trump electors in Michigan received subpoenas, according to a person who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation. But it was not immediately clear whether that activity was related to a federal probe or a state-level criminal inquiry.

Timothy Horn

Timothy Horn

The precise nature of the information being sought by the Justice Department at the homes of Carver and Lane was not immediately clear.

Officials have previously said that the Justice Department and the FBI were examining the issue of false electors, whom Trump and others hoped might be approved by state legislators in a last-ditch bid to keep Trump in the White House. Until now, however, those investigative efforts seemed to primarily involve talking to people in Republican circles who knew of the scheme and objected; the subpoenas issued Wednesday suggest the Justice Department is now moving to question at least some of those who allegedly agreed to pursue the effort.

Later yesterday, 8NewsNow in Las Vegas reported that the FBI searched the home of the Chairman of the Nevada GOP and took his phone: I-Team sources: FBI seizes Nevada GOP chairman’s phone as part of fake elector investigation.

FBI agents served a search warrant Wednesday on Nevada’s top GOP official, sources told the 8 News Now I-Team’s George Knapp.

Agents seized the cell phone of state Republican chairman Michael McDonald, reportedly as part of an investigation into the fake elector scheme initiated at the end of the 2020 presidential election.

A second search warrant was issued for state party secretary James DeGraffenreid, who also signed the document, but FBI agents could not locate him Wednesday, sources told Knapp.

In December 2020, the 8 News Now I-Team reported the Nevada Republican Party’s six electors signed paperwork signaling their support for former President Donald Trump in a symbolic ceremony devoid of any legal merit, which was held in Carson City and coincided with the official state-sanctioned tally on Dec. 14, 2020….

The certificate received by the National Archives looks much different than the official state-sealed one and reads, “We, the undersigned, being the duly elected and qualified electors for president and vice president of the United States of America from the State of Nevada, do hereby certify six electoral votes for Trump.”

In a statement after the event, Nevada GOP chair Michael McDonald said the party’s electors convened in Carson City due to ongoing legal battles seeking to overturn the election results. Nevada Republicans lost all court cases involving allegations of voter fraud.

Timothy Horn4

Timothy Horn

CNN: DOJ subpoenas Georgia Republican Party chairman as it expands Trump fake elector probe.

Federal investigators subpoenaed the Georgia Republican Party chairman for information related to the fake elector scheme there — as the Justice Department has issued a fresh round of subpoenas to people from several states who acted as rogue electors after the 2020 presidential election, multiple sources familiar with the situation told CNN.

The subpoena for the chairman, David Shafer, represents a significant step because he played a central role in organizing the fake slate of electors from Georgia and coordinated the effort with the Trump campaign.

The focus on Shafer also comes as sources tell CNN the Justice Department subpoenaed Trump electors this week in Georgia, Michigan and Pennsylvania — all states that former President Donald Trump lost.

The Justice Department has been scrutinizing the Trump campaign’s use of so-called alternate electors. The new round of subpoenas represents an escalation of a criminal probe that, before now, had approached lower-level Republicans. All along, however, federal investigators have pursued information about political figures higher up, including at the top of the Trump campaign.

In the weeks after the 2020 election and leading up to January 6, 2021, Trump’s allies sent fake slates of electors to the National Archives declaring that the then-President had won seven states that he actually lost. The bid failed, and then-Vice President Mike Pence certified Joe Biden’s electoral win on January 6 after rioters had been cleared from the US Capitol.

Related stories to check out, links only:

The Washington Post: Sen. Ron Johnson under fire over fake-electors disclosure at hearing.

William Saletan at The Bulwark: John Eastman’s Phony “Plenary Authority” Theory.

CBS News: CBS News obtains images from documentary film footage given to Jan. 6 panel.

CNN: What Americans are saying about the Jan. 6 hearings.

The Washington Post: As Jan. 6 committee targets Trump, his consternation at McCarthy grows.

The New York Times: A Year Later, Some Republicans Second-Guess Boycotting the Jan. 6 Panel.

Have a nice Thursday, and if you watch the hearing this afternoon, please share your reactions with us.


Lazy Caturday Reads

Good Morning!!

spoon-feeding-cat4Today’s art work is from the European Renaissance period, around the 15th and 16th centuries, when people apparently liked to treat their pet cats like babies–spoon-feeding them and sometimes even swaddling them. Unfortunately I couldn’t find the artists’ names.

In honor of Caturday and to give you a brief respite from the insane news of the day, here’s an article about Willow, the White House cat. Kate Bennett at CNN: As presidential cat, Willow Biden has privileges.

In the dog days of summer, Willow the cat rules the roost.

On Friday, Willow’s crate was spotted being carried by a staff member from the White House residence to Marine One, the presidential helicopter that will ferry the feline – along with President Joe Biden and first lady Dr. Jill Biden – to Rehoboth, Delaware, and the family’s beach house…

“Willow often spends the weekends with the First Family, including in Rehoboth, Wilmington, and Camp David,” the first lady’s press secretary Michael LaRosa told CNN.

When she is not being whisked away for the weekend, Willow has privileges to roam the White House. She is predominantly restricted to the White House executive residence’s private second and third floors, where CNN is told Willow particularly enjoys the solarium, a bright space above the South Portico, where she “receives lots of attention from the Executive Residence staff.” In Wilmington and at Camp David, “she often sits on the porch in the sun,” says LaRosa.

Back home, Willow also likes to visit working staff in the East Wing, taking leisurely naps on the desk of the press secretary, chasing her toys in and out of offices and generally being open to scratches. Once or twice, Willow has explored beyond her domain, making it as far as the chief usher’s office on the main floor, just next to the North entrance.

The East Wing staff has made a sign to alert when Willow is out and about, which features of photo of her face and reads: “Willow is on the prowl! Please keep these doors closed.”

I didn’t know the story of how Willow came to be adopted by Jill Biden until I read this story. They met when Jill gave a speech in rural Pennsylvania, where Willow lived in a barn.

“Willow made quite an impression on Dr. Biden in 2020 when she jumped up on the stage and interrupted her remarks,” LaRosa said several months ago. “Seeing their immediate bond, the owner of the farm knew that Willow belonged with Dr. Biden.”

She named her Willow after her hometown of Willow Grove, Pennsylvania. Though it wouldn’t be until January that Willow actually moved into her digs at the White House, she enjoyed staying with Biden acquaintances in Washington, DC, until the timing was right to officially add her to the Biden home.

Willow sounds like a very clever cat. She knew what she wanted and made it happen.

spoon-feeding-cat2It seems that Trump has been closely following the January 6 hearings, and he’s not at all happy about them. Justin Baragona at The Daily Beast: Trump Slams ‘Human Conveyer Belt’ Pence for Lacking ‘Courage’ to Steal Election.

Former President Donald Trump lashed out at Mike Pence on Friday for not having the “courage” to overthrow President Joe Biden’s election victory—just a day after the Jan. 6 committee hailed the ex-veep as a hero for not participating in Trump’s failed coup attempt.

Additionally, the twice-impeached ex-president denied that he ever called Pence a “wimp” for not going along with his crazy theory to steal the 2020 election. At the same time, though, Trump repeatedly called Pence a “human conveyer belt” and a “robot” for certifying Biden’s electoral votes….

After railing about the “sham” and “unselect” committee during his speech at the Faith and Freedom Coalition on Friday, Trump turned his attention to Pence and other “RINOs” he felt were insufficiently loyal to him following the election.

“One guy got up and said that he heard me calling Mike Pence a ‘wimp,’” Trump stated. “Now honestly, I’m the president of the United States. I’m sitting, I think they said at my desk. ‘He’s a wimp.’ How many people listen to me—I don’t even know who these people are! But I never called Mike Pence a wimp. I never called him a wimp.”

From there, however, the ex-president took aim at his former running mate for failing to assist in illegally keeping him in office—and he basically called Pence a wimp in so many words.

“Mike Pence had a chance to be great,” Trump exclaimed. “He had a chance to be, frankly, historic. But just like [former Attorney General] Bill Barr and the rest of these weak people, Mike—and I say it sadly because I like him—but Mike did not have the courage to act.” [….]

Regarding the legal consensus that Pence had “no choice” but to certify Biden’s victory, the disgraced ex-president likened Pence to a “human conveyer belt.”

After claiming he never wanted Pence to “decide” the election but rather just wanted him to send votes back to state legislatures for them to decide, Trump seemed to confirm that he pushed Eastman’s garbage theories in conversations with his vice president. (Though, according to Pence’s chief of staff Marc Short, this particular encounter never happened.)

“So, I said, ‘Mike, if you do this, you can be Thomas Jefferson,’” the ex-president boasted. “And then, after it all went down, I looked at him one day and I said, ‘Mike, hate to say this, but you’re no Thomas Jefferson.’”

spoon-feeding-cat6Trump also attacked Pence on his fake Twitter social media outlet “Truth Social.” The Independent: Trump claims he never asked Pence to overturn the election on Truth Social after dramatic Jan 6 hearing.

Mr Trump’s words come a day after the House select committee investigating the riot at the US Capitol held its third public hearing, where Mr Pence’s former White House Counsel Greg Jacob testified about the pressure campaign the former vice president sustained at the hands of the president and his legal team.

Multiple video depositions, including from former White House lawyer Eric Herschmann, showed how Mr Trump knew his plan to overturn the election results were illegal.

But Mr Trump pushed back on the allegations on his social media platform Truth Social.

“Such LIES & MISREPRESENTATION by the Unselects, and absolutely nobody allowed to challenge what is being said”, Mr Trump posted. “As an example, I never asked V.P. Pence to ‘overturn’ the election (although Thomas Jefferson ‘took’ the Georgia votes), but that he send the votes back to the Legislatures so that they could determine if the irregularities and Fraud were as widespread and signficant [sic] as they seemed.”

Dementia Don’s family needs to stage an intervention and get this man some professional help. He’s likely to get even more enraged on Tuesday, when the January 6 Committee hearing will focus on Trump’s efforts to “find” enough votes to overturn Biden’s 2020 win in Georgia. Georgia Public Broadcasting News: Raffensperger, Sterling will headline Tuesday’s Jan. 6 hearings.

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and his top deputy Gabriel Sterling will testify at Tuesday’s hearing of the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol, to shine more light on one of the more brazen attempts to overturn the 2020 election….

Raffensperger famously rebuffed former President Donald Trump’s pressure to “find” enough votes to reverse his narrow election defeat, and Sterling was a frequent figure on televised news conferences debunking false claims of fraud and fellow Republicans’ attacks on election workers.

In last month’s primary elections, Raffensperger defeated Trump-backed challenger Rep. Jody Hice.

girl-feeding-a-catTuesday’s committee hearing is expected to highlight the pressure campaign that Trump and his allies exerted on local elections officials in Georgia and other states to reverse the presidential election results, and comes on the heels of a hearing Thursday that outlined attempts to get former Vice President Mike Pence to reject the Electoral College results.

The Georgia officials’ public testimony comes after Raffensperger appeared recently in a closed-door special grand jury investigation in Fulton County that is seeking to determine if Trump and others violated several state laws in their efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

Raffensperger and others have also provided hours of testimony privately to the committee, including discussion of the unprecedented call from Trump, leaked to GPB NewsThe Washington Post and other outlets in the runup to Georgia’s dual U.S. Senate runoffs.

Read more at the link.

The Committee has also requested testimony from Ginni Thomas, after it came out that she exchanged emails with nutty Trump attorney John Eastman during his efforts to overturn the election. NPR reports that Thomas claims she’s looking forward to answering questions:

Ginni Thomas told the right-wing news site The Daily Caller in a story published after the start of Thursday’s hearing that she would “look forward” to speaking with the committee.

“I can’t wait to clear up misconceptions. I look forward to talking to them,” The Daily Caller reported. Thomas has worked with the Daily Caller in the past, including producing an interview with her husband.

I can’t wait either.

Jim Newell and Jordan Weissmann have questions for her: Ginni Thomas: Were you sending emails about a criminal f***ing conspiracy?

Just how deeply involved was Ginni Thomas in plotting to overthrow the results of the 2020 election? The Jan. 6 committee may be poking around to try and find out. After Trump’s loss, Thomas—wife of Justice Clarence Thomas—texted extensively with White House chief of staff Mark Meadows about overturning the outcome and pushed Arizona lawmakers to do the same with their state’s vote. This week, the Washington Post reported that the panel is examining emails between Thomas and the lawyer John Eastman, who was Trump’s apparent point man on all things coup-related (and who will now forever be associated with the words “I believe I should be on the pardon list, if that is still in the works”). After the Post story broke, Eastman posted his email correspondence with Thomas on his Substack in a post titled: “OMG, Mrs. Thomas asked me to give an update about election litigation to her group. Stop the Presses!” It mostly just seemed to confirm that, yes, the two were in contact. The committee is now planning to interview Thomas, who says she is looking forward to clearing up any “misconceptions.” Here’s the key context for all this: At one point, Eastman told another Trump ally in an email that there was “a heated fight underway” at the Supreme Court over the election. It’s not clear where he got that idea. Was he fed this information by his friend Ginni? And what would that tell us, exactly, about Clarence Thomas’ activities at the court? Inquiring minds would like to know what the queen of Boomer texters, and her wildly powerful husband, were up to.

Also see Jamelle Bouie at The New York Times: Ginni Thomas Has a Lot of Explaining to Do.

spoon-feeding-cat15This is from CNBC: Ginni Thomas-tied Facebook group ‘FrontLiners for Liberty’ could be a new focus in Jan. 6 investigation.

A Facebook group that appears to be run by Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, could become a new point of interest in the U.S. House Select Committee’s investigation into the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Congressional investigators said they planned to ask Ginni Thomas to testify before the committee hours after Trump attorney John Eastman on Thursday publicly posted a Dec. 4, 2020 email from Thomas asking him to speak to a gathering she called “Frontliners,” which she described as featuring “grassroots state leaders.” Ginni Thomas is listed as an administrator of a Facebook group that goes by a similar name and description: “FrontLiners for Liberty.”

The private group, which listed more than 50 members, was created in August 2020, just two months before the November elections, according to the page’s description.

The groupwhich CNBC reviewed before it was removed from public view, described itself as “a new collaborative, liberty-focused, action-oriented group of state leaders representing grassroots armies to CONNECT, INFORM and ACTIVATE each other weekly to preserve constitutional governance.” Although Thomas’ personal Facebook page isn’t verified, it contained numerous photos ofJustice Thomas.

The group’s pages were removed from public view after CNBC reached out to Thomas about the organization. It now shows a notice from Facebook saying that it’s either been deleted or the privacy settings have been changed.

CNBC also tried to get answers through Facebook messenger to Stephanie Coleman, who is also listed administrator of the group and the wife of the late Gregory Coleman who was Texas’ solicitor general. Greg Coleman was once a clerk for Justice Thomas.

Coleman and Thomas are repeatedly pictured together on Coleman’s personal Facebook page, including a photo of the two together in December 2016 with former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon.

More news, links only:

spoon-feeding-cat13Just Security: 8 Top Former Prosecutors, Senior DOJ Officials on Key New Evidence in Effort to Pressure Pence.

The Washington Post: Supreme Court could soon make it easier to carry guns in six states.

Vice: Uvalde Hires Private Law Firm to Argue It Doesn’t Have to Release School Shooting Public Records.

The Guardian: The ‘big rip-off’: how Trump exploited his fans with ‘election defense’ fund.

HuffPost: The Far-Right’s Assault On An Idaho Pride Event Was Meticulously Planned.

The New York Times: Proud Boys Led Major Breaches of Capitol on Jan. 6, Video Investigation Finds.

David Von Drehle at The Washington Post: A new ‘National Conservative’ manifesto sounds a lot like fascism.

Garry Kasparov at The Wall Street Journal: Awakened to Putin’s Threat, Biden and the West Nod Off Again.

Have a nice Juneteenth weekend everyone!!


Tuesday Reads: Yesterday’s Jan. 6 Committee Hearing

https___cdn.cnn.com_cnnnext_dam_assets_220610171003-01-jan-6-hearing-file-060922

Good Morning!!

Much of today’s news is about yesterday’s January 6 committee hearing, but before I get to that, this morning the committee announced that tomorrow’s scheduled hearing has been postponed. NBC News: Jan. 6 committee abruptly postpones Wednesday hearing.

The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol announced Tuesday that it was postponing its public hearing scheduled for 10 a.m. on Wednesday.

The next hearing will take place on Thursday instead.

The committee did not say why it was postponing Wednesday’s hearing.

The witnesses who were expected to testify at the hearing included former acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, former acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue and Steve Engel, former assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Counsel….

Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., said last week that the third hearing would offer evidence about Trump’s unsuccessful plan to oust Rosen and replace him with another DOJ official who was more supportive of Trump’s fraud claims, Jeffrey Clark, according to Cheney. Clark drafted a letter to states that said the department “identified significant concerns that may have impacted the outcome of the election.”

“In our hearings, you will hear first-hand how the senior leadership of the department threatened to resign, how the White House Counsel threatened to resign, and how they confronted Donald Trump and Jeff Clark in the Oval Office,” Cheney said Thursday.

Committee member Rep. Zoe Lofgren told Morning Joe that the postponement is “no big deal.”

Perhaps in anticipation of the committee’s scheduled topic for Wednesday, Michael Kranish wrote in The Washington Post: Inside the explosive Oval Office confrontation three days before Jan. 6.

Three days before Congress was slated to certify the 2020 presidential election, a little-known Justice Department official named Jeffrey Clark rushed to meet President Donald Trump in the Oval Office to discuss a last-ditch attempt to reverse the results.

Clark, an environmental lawyer by trade, had outlined a plan in a letter he wanted to send to the leaders of key states Joe Biden won. It said that the Justice Department had “identified significant concerns” about the vote and that the states should consider sending “a separate slate of electors supporting Donald J. Trump” for Congress to approve.

In fact, Clark’s bosses had warned there was not evidence to overturn the election and had rejected his letter days earlier. Now they learned Clark was about to meet with Trump. Acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen tracked down his deputy, Richard Donoghue, who had been walking on the Mall in muddy jeans and an Army T-shirt. There was no time to change. They raced to the Oval Office.

As Rosen and Donoghue listened, Clark told Trump that he would send the letter if the president named him attorney general.

1638408149077_n_reidout_jeffreyclark_211201_1920x1080-kgwc4i

Jeffrey Clark

Donoghue told Trump that Clark was “not competent” to serve as Attorney General, and if Trump appointed him there would be mass resignations at the DOJ. Kranish writes that January 6 Committee witness have revealed new information about what happened in that January 3 Oval Office meeting.

A reconstruction of the events by The Washington Post, based on the court filings, depositions, Senate and House reports, previously undisclosed emails, and interviews with knowledgeable government officials, shows how close the country came to crisis three days before the insurrection.

The evidence, which fills in crucial details about Clark’s efforts, includes an email showing he was sent a draft of a letter outlining a plan to try to overturn the election by a just-arrived Justice Department official who had once written a book claiming President Barack Obama planned to “subvert the Constitution.”

But larger mysteries could still be solved at a Jan. 6 committee hearing on Wednesday morning slated to examine Clark’s actions, including the crucial question of whether Clark and his allies were acting on their own initiative — or whether they were one piece of a larger, well-planned effort to keep Trump in power. That question gets to the heart of the committee’s professed mission: proving there was a “coordinated, multi-step effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election.”

It’s a long read, so you’ll have to go to the WaPo to read all the details.

Now for some reactions to yesterday’s Committee presentation.

Trump biographer Timothy O’Brien at Bloomberg: Trump Knew Exactly What He Was Doing on Jan. 6.

“Jerry, just remember: It’s not a lie if you believe it.” — George Costanza, “Seinfeld”

Did Donald Trump believe he was telling the truth when he claimed that the 2020 election, which he lost, was rigged against him? I think not, but I’m just one person.

Fortunately, lots of other White House advisers, such as former Attorney General William Barr, told Trump in the days and weeks after the election that there was no fraud. Barr called the claims “bullshit,” “rubbish” and “idiotic.” Trump’s advisers were surprised, sometime stunned, that he plowed ahead anyway. Those were just some of the revelations from the second day of testimony of the select congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the US Capitol.

One reason this matters is that the hearing’s most important audience isn’t voters or historians. It’s an audience of one: Attorney General Merrick Garland. If Garland’s Justice Department decides to charge Trump with electoral fraud, it will need to demonstrate to a jury that Trump intended to commit a crime when he staged an attempted coup — and that he knew what he was doing was wrong. The Jan. 6 committee is laying lots of persuasive evidence on Garland’s desk.

In addition to Barr, other White House and campaign advisers, including Jared Kushner, Bill Stepien, Eric Herschmann, Alex Cannon and Jeffrey Rosen, told Trump that there was no election fraud. Some advisers did insist otherwise, including Rudy Giuliani. But based on testimony at the hearing, the Giuliani crowd was telling Trump what he already wanted to hear. Barr testified that Trump had no interest in the “actual facts.” Stepien testified that Trump’s “mind was made up” that mail-in voting was a scam months before the election took place.

Barr went as far as to say that if Trump really did believe there was fraud, he had “become detached from reality.” But Trump’s never been detached from reality — he has simply created the narratives he wants to get what he wants. He’s been doing that for decades. You can call this modus operandi lying, or exaggerating, or prevaricating, or dissembling, or falsely speaking. Whatever the term, he knows exactly what he’s doing when he does it.

Read more at the link. Fortunately AG Garland says he’s following the Committee’s presentations.

Hugo Lowell at The Guardian: Garland says he is watching January 6 hearings amid pressure to investigate Trump.

“I am watching and I will be watching all the hearings, although I may not be able to watch all of it live,” Garland said shortly after the select committee concluded its second hearing. “I can assure you the January 6 prosecutors are watching all of the hearings, as well.”

The attorney general declined to address potential investigations into Trump or other individuals mentioned by the select committee at the hearings, saying that could undermine prosecutors’ work and would be unfair to people under scrutiny who might never be charged.

But Garland reiterated earlier promises that the justice department is exploring potential criminal conduct regardless of those people’s level, their positions in the government and proximity to Trump, or whether they were at the Capitol on 6 January 2021.

The justice department appears in recent weeks to have expanded its criminal investigation to examine top figures connected to Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election, including government officials and Republican lawyers and operatives.

One grand jury in Washington is investigating the rallies that preceded the Capitol attack and whether any executive or legislative branch officials were involved in trying to obstruct Joe Biden’s election certification, according to a subpoena seen by the Guardian.

The justice department also appears to be investigating political operatives close to Trump, according to another grand jury subpoena seen by the Guardian, as well as some Trump lawyers involved in a scheme to send fake Trump electors to Congress.

Read the rest at The Guardian.

At The Daily Beast, Julia Davis reports: Team Putin in a Panic Over Jan. 6 Hearings ‘Lynching Trump.’

The House select committee’s primetime Jan. 6. hearings are causing conniptions in Moscow.

105146647-GettyImages-872801238rThe attempted insurrection was embraced by the Kremlin as cause célèbre, with Russian President Vladimir Putin himself calling for an investigation into the death of Ashli Babbitt, who was part of the crowd attacking the U.S. Capitol. Russia’s state-controlled media obsessively covered the notorious attack, praising the would-be insurrectionists as law-abiding protesters and criticizing the United States for prosecuting them. But now, propagandists seem to be concerned that the hearings may negatively impact the chances of re-election for their so-called “partner,” former U.S. President Donald J. Trump.

Kremlin-controlled state media has been relishing the faltering popularity ratings of President Biden, describing Trump as a shoo-in for re-election and openly hoping that a Republican takeover in the midterms would spell a change in America’s foreign policy towards Ukraine. The Jan. 6 committee hearings seem to be a fly in the ointment and now Putin’s propagandists are no longer certain of what the future elections might hold.

Assuming that a criminal prosecution against Trump is all but inevitable, state TV host Vladimir Solovyov seemed perturbed during his show The Evening With Vladimir Solovyov last Friday: “Look at what’s going on in America. A criminal prosecution against Trump and his followers is an obvious step towards a dictatorship.” Solovyov failed to mention the kind of penalties one might face in Russia for attempting a violent insurrection, where people get arrested for something so innocuous as holding up a sign that says “Peace,” or even a blank sheet of paper….

Dmitry Abzalov, Director of the Center for Strategic Communications, was equally agitated: “The most crucial point is as follows: we need to understand what’s going to happen in the electoral sense. The internal political component is extremely significant. The most important events on our political calendar are local elections in Great Britain as well as a very difficult situation in July and August, since the midterms in the U.S. actually start during summer months. Every Thursday they’ll be lynching Trump in prime time.”

Click the link to read the rest.

William Saletan at The Bulwark: If Trump Wasn’t Lying, That’s Worse. A delusional president is far more dangerous than a mendacious one.

On Monday, the House January 6th Committee presented evidence that Donald Trump, after losing the 2020 election, promoted allegations of voter fraud that his own advisers had told him were false. According to the committee, this evidence proves he was lying.

But the evidence actually points to a different conclusion: Trump wasn’t lying in the way that other presidents have done. He was simply impervious. He refused to accept unwelcome facts. And that degree of imperviousness, in a president, is much more dangerous than dishonesty.

Testimony at Monday’s hearing showed that many people around Trump—Mark Meadows, Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, and others—knew his claims were false. But the testimony about Trump himself was different. Nobody recalled the then-president privately admitting, in the style of Richard Nixon, that he was hiding the truth. Instead, everyone who had interacted with Trump described him as batting away information he didn’t want to hear.

Saletan then provides a four-part summary of the evidence, which you can read at the link above.

If Trump truly believed, despite all evidence, that the election was stolen, that might buy him some relief from criminal charges that require corrupt intent. But in terms of his fitness for office, the theory that he was deluded—not lying—is more alarming, not less.

In his testimony, Barr described a meeting with Trump on Dec. 14, 2020. Trump was still ranting about Dominion and other fantastic tales. “I was somewhat demoralized,” Barr told the committee, “because I thought, boy, if he really believes this stuff . . . he’s become detached from reality.” Barr speculated that Trump had “lost contact.” He recalled that each time he told Trump “how crazy some of these allegations were,” Trump brushed aside the information: “There was never an indication of interest in what the actual facts were.”

“I felt that before the election it was possible to talk sense to the President,” Barr testified. This sometimes required “a big wrestling match” with Trump, he explained, but “it was possible to keep things on track.” But “after the election, he didn’t seem to be listening.”

Detached from realityLost contactNo interest in facts.

We can’t have a president who thinks—or doesn’t think—this way. We can’t put the world’s most powerful armed forces and nuclear arsenal back in the hands of a man who believes, no matter what, that he has the mandate of the people—and is willing to use violence to stay in power. In the Oval Office, a madman is far more dangerous than a liar.

I’m not sure what to believe. I do think that Trump has shown himself to be delusional in many situations. On the other hand, if Trump truly believed his lies, it would be much more difficult to prosecute him.

Trump himself issued a response to the evidence provided by the committee. The Hill: Trump releases 12-page response to Jan. 6 hearing.

The 12-page document underscores how Trump has yet to move on from his false claims of fraud in the 2020 election and how the committee’s work may be central to a potential 2024 campaign….

Trump repeats a handful of disproven claims to assert the 2020 election was stolen from him and rigged in favor of Democrats, including some that were brought up during testimony by former Trump campaign and administration officials.

One section of Trump’s statement focuses on ballot trafficking claims, for which he cites the Dinesh D’Souza documentary “2000 Mules.” In testimony shown earlier Monday, former Attorney General William Barr laughed at the mention of the film, saying he was “unimpressed with it” and dismissed the idea that it proved widespread fraud.

Another section asserts that President Biden could not have won the states of Pennsylvania, Arizona or Georgia because he got more Black votes and Hispanic votes than former President Obama. Each of those states has performed audits and recounts and found no evidence of widespread fraud.

Trump in one section claimed states such as Pennsylvania and Michigan took additional time after Election Day to count ballots because it was part of an elaborate scheme to ship in fraudulent votes so Biden could erase Trump’s narrow leads in those states.

But former Fox News editor Chris Stirewalt testified in person on Monday to dismiss that very theory, known as the “red mirage.” Stirewalt explained that Republicans typically do better on Election Day, while Democrats perform better in early voting. Some states, such as Pennsylvania, do not count early votes or mail-in ballots until Election Day, meaning it takes additional time to finalize the count.

From Raw Story: ‘Admissible in any future trial’: Analysts nail Trump’s 12-page Jan. 6 response rant.

Former President Donald Trump is being mocked and attacked online after issuing a 12-page statement that is partly a typical Trump rant but follows with a case his campaign has made that questions nebulous things like “ballot stuff” and alleges that because ballots were counted after midnight they’re fraudulent.

As Democratic election lawyer Marc Elias noted, Trump’s lawyers should let him know that statements like these can be used against him in any forthcoming legal proceedings. Typically, lawyers advise their clients to stay quiet and refrain from speaking out.

That’s it for me today. What stories have captured your interest?


Thursday Reads: Jan. 6 Hearings Begin Tonight

https___cdn.cnn.com_cnnnext_dam_assets_220605115209-01-january-6-committee-file-restricted

The House January 6 Committee

Good Morning!!

Day one of the January 6 committee hearings has finally arrived. At 8:00 tonight, we’ll begin to learn what the committee has discovered about the conspiracy to overturn the 2020 election and Trump’s culpability for the attack on the Capitol building last year. We’ll be live-blogging the hearings, so please check in tonight and share your reactions. We can use this post or, if necessary, we’ll post another thread tonight.

Rep. Jamie Raskin has promised that the findings will “blow the roof off” the House. Ed Pilkington at The Guardian: Congress’s January hearings aim to be TV spectacular that ‘blows the roof off.’

When the US House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection opens its hearings on Thursday evening, it will do so in prime time and with primetime production values. The seven Democrats and two Republicans – shunned by their own party – who sit on the panel are pulling out all the stops in an attempt to seize the public’s attention.

They have brought onboard a former president of ABC News, James Goldston, a veteran of Good Morning America and other mass-market TV programmes, to tightly choreograph the six public hearings into movie-length episodes ranging from 90 minutes to two and a half hours. His task: to fulfill the prediction of one of the Democratic committee members, Jamie Raskin, that the hearings “will tell a story that will really blow the roof off the House”….

Reports suggest that one ratings-boosting tactic under consideration would be to show clips from the committee’s interviews with Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner. They were witness to many of Donald Trump’s rantings in the buildup to January 6, and highlights of their quizzing could command a large audience.

As a counterpoint to the glamorous couple, the committee is also likely to focus during the opening session on the activities of far-right groups including the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers. This week, the justice department charged the national chairman of the Proud Boys, Enrique Tarrio, and four of the group’s other leaders with seditious conspiracy.

The indictments will act as backdrop to two of the committee’s main ambitions for the hearings. First, to show in dramatic and previously unseen footage – edited for maximum effect on TV and social media alike – the harrowing violence and brutal destruction that was unleashed during the storming of the Capitol, in which the vice-president was forced to flee rioters shouting: “Hang Mike Pence.”

The second ambition is to convey to the American people that the maelstrom of rage was not random and unprompted, but rather the opposite – instigated, organised, meticulously planned and conceived by an array of conscious actors.

William Vailliancourt at Rolling Stone: ‘More Than Incitement’: Jamie Raskin Teases Trump Revelations Ahead of Jan. 6 Hearings.

Committee member Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) on Monday offered a glimps of what’s to come.

“The select committee has found evidence about a lot more than incitement here,” he said during a Washington Post interview on Monday after noting that majorities in both the House and Senate found former President Trump guilty of inciting the attack on the Capitol. “We’re gonna be laying out the evidence about all of the actors who were pivotal to what took place on Jan. 6,” he continued.

Raskin added that the committee has evidence of “concerted planning and premeditated activity” — in other words, “a conspiracy to overturn the 2020 presidential election and block the transfer of power.”

When asked whether Trump himself led this effort, Raskin acknowledged that “people are going to have to make judgments themselves about the relative role that different people played.” But, he added, “I think that Donald Trump and the White House were at the center of these events. That’s the only way really of making sense of them all.”

Committee Vice Chairwoman Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) described efforts to overturn the election similarly, telling CBS on Sunday that the attack on the Capitol was one facet of an “extremely well-organized” conspiracy….

“No president has ever come close to doing what happened here in terms of trying to organize an inside coup to overthrow an election and bypass the constitutional order,” Raskin said at a Georgetown University event in April. “And then also use a violent insurrection made up of domestic violent extremist groups, white nationalist and racist, fascist groups in order to support the coup.”

Marshall Cohen at CNN: January 6 panel eyes Trump’s culpability as hearings begin.

With public hearings kicking off this week, the House select committee investigating January 6 is zeroing in on former President Donald Trump, and is preparing to use its platform to argue that he was responsible for grave abuses of power that nearly upended US democracy.

The committee’s central mission has been to uncover the full scope of Trump’s unprecedented attempt to stop the transfer of power to President Joe Biden. This includes Trump’s attempts to overturn his 2020 defeat by pressuring state and federal officials, and what committee members say was his “dereliction of duty” on January 6 while his supporters ransacked the US Capitol.

Lawmakers will try to convict Trump in the court of public opinion – which is all they can do, because it’s not within their powers to actually indict Trump. But they have an emerging legal foundation to claim that Trump broke the law, thanks to a landmark court ruling from a federal judge who said it was “more likely than not” that Trump committed crimes regarding January 6.

These highly choreographed hearings will be the panel’s first opportunity to show the public what they’ve learned from more than 1,000 witness interviews and 135,000 documents. An avalanche of new information about January 6 has come to light since Trump’s impeachment trial in February 2021, where he was acquitted of one count of “incitement of insurrection.”

“We are going to tell the story of a conspiracy to overturn the 2020 presidential election and block the transfer of power,” Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Maryland Democrat who serves on the committee, told the Washington Post earlier this week, adding that the committee “has found evidence of concerted planning and premediated activity” related to the events of January 6.

Cohen then wraps up the piece by summarizing what is known so far about “Trump’s leadership role in the anti-democratic scheme, and how it all fits into the ongoing criminal investigations.”

Andrew Feinberg at The Independent: ‘Trump will lose his mind’: The 6 Jan hearings vow to ‘change history’. Here’s what to expect.

When the House 6 January select committee convenes its first hearing to examine the worst attack on the US Capitol since 1814, the nine-member panel and the two witnesses who will testify Thursday will be the highest-profile occupants of the ornate Cannon House Office Building Caucus Room since the infamous House Un-American Activities Committee used it for hearings in the mid-20th century.

Seventy-four years after Hollywood luminaries like acclaimed screenwriter Dalton Trumbo were blacklisted after failing to answer that committee’s questions about whether they had “now or … ever been” members of the Communist Party, one of the film industry’s finest will once again be a star witness in the exact same room.

The select committee on Tuesday announced that one of the first two witnesses to testify in what is expected to be a series of at least eight hearings will be Nick Quested, the award-winning documentarian who earned an Oscar nomination for his film Restrepo in 2010. The other will be Caroline Edwards, a US Capitol Police officer who was one of the first to be on the receiving end of blows delivered by the pro-Trump mob who stormed the Capitol in hopes of preventing Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory.

Both witnesses will testify during the second hour of the two-hour hearing, following opening presentations by the select committee’s chairman – Representative Bennie Thompson of Mississippi – and Wyoming Representative Liz Cheney, the panel’s vice-chair.

The Independent has learned that the panel’s aim in putting Ms Edwards and Mr Quested in the spotlight for the first prime time hearing on the 6 January insurrection is to highlight the role played by the pro-Trump extremist groups in starting and escalating the violence.

Mr Quested, who spent the days leading up to the riot embedded with leaders of the Proud Boys gang as part of a documentary project, has already provided US authorities with footage of a 5 January 2021 meeting between then-Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio and Elmer Stewart Rhodes, founder and leader of the Oath Keepers.

The footage of Mr Tarrio and Mr Rhodes meeting on the eve of the insurrection appears to have figured prominently in grand jury proceedings which led to last week’s unsealing of an indictment against Mr Tarrio and four other Proud Boys members for seditious conspiracy.

The press has learned so much about what will happen tonight. I hope the committee will still have a few surprises for us.

Two more relevant reads:

Brian J. Karem at Salon: Jan. 6 committee finally takes the spotlight — hey, it’s only America’s future at stake. Karem argues that the Republicans’ focus on guns is designed to draw public interest away from the January 6 hearings and it’s vitally important that the hearings get the full attention of the public.

The House select committee on the Jan. 6 attack is finally beginning its televised hearings, and the Democratic faithful are hoping for a political punch in the nose to detractors — and a wakeup call to those who still don’t understand what actually happened during the insurrection.

“These hearings are important to accelerate awareness,” Norm Eisen, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, explained to me. It remains to be seen if they can actually be the “punch in the nose” to Donald Trump that so many hope for.

Trump’s alleged activities on or before Jan. 6 include a conspiracy to obstruct a lawful function of the federal government. These hearings must energize the pursuit of justice, or they will be pointless – just more high wind in the trees.

Face it. Trump was impeached not once, but twice. We know what a grifter he is. We know he doesn’t care. Most of us believe him to be a crook. We have seen it all before. Can the hearings really shock the nation into a zeitgeist that leads us to a newfound respect for each other — and to a settling of accounts that holds Trump responsible for one of the worst days in the modern history of our country? Probably not.

Trump openly led the insurrection. Congress can’t prosecute him, but the DOJ can.

The nation needs indictments. You cannot have closure before you indict and prosecute every single person involved in the insurrection. You cannot stand over the dead corpse of democracy and declare we should move on.

In short, the hearings in Congress must make it clear beyond a reasonable doubt that there should be a prosecution of Trump and all of the others in his close-knit circle who were involved. Should the hearings provide a roadmap to indictment, Attorney General Merrick Garland must not fail to act….

What’s the worst-case scenario for these hearings? No needle movement. No charges. The entire issue fades into the mist like a bad case of COVID: You survive, but the cough persists.

Make no mistake, democracy is still in the balance and it has been since Trump slithered down that golden escalator and began his campaign for president.

We’re still in the moment, as Eisen would say. These are uncertain times and we must act. These hearings are important — easily as important as the hearings that helped bring down Nixon and perhaps even more. Today the entire government hangs in the balance.

Jose Pagiliary at The Daily Beast: The Jan. 6 Committee Can’t Convict Trump—but It Could Help Bankrupt Him.

While it’s doubtful the hearings will meet the sky-high expectations of those who believed the committee would expose open-and-shut wrongdoing from some of the nation’s top officials, the prime-time hearings will deliver one thing: evidence for many of the lawsuits seeking to make former President Donald Trump and other election denialists actually pay for the violence.

“What the committee can’t do is hold people accountable. But that’s where criminal prosecutions and civil litigation comes in,” said Edward G. Caspar, an attorney representing injured and traumatized Capitol Police officers who are suing Trump after the violence insurrection….

one of the big challenges for the panel’s investigation—with its contentious lawsuits, secret interviews, and promises to expose the truth—is that it ultimately has no power to punish those who are responsible for last year’s attack on the Capitol.

So far, legal scholars and progressive activists have focused their exasperated calls for action on the Department of Justice. But the real action could come from lawsuits like the one Conrad Smith and seven fellow Capitol Police officers filed in August against Trump, his campaign, Stop the Steal election denial movement organizers like Ali Alexander and Roger Stone, and enforcer gangs like the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers militia.

“The committee is playing a critical role here for America,” Caspar said. “If you think of the three means of seeking accountability for those responsible for the attack—congressional hearings, criminal prosecution, civil litigation—they’re like a three-legged stool. The committee can shine a very bright light on the evidence and present it to the public. That’s something the others can’t do.”

A lot is riding on the hearing tonight. If the committee can really “blow the roof off,” people who haven’t been paying close attention will continue to tune in upcoming hearings. Here’s hoping they can meet the challenge.

Please share your thoughts on all this, and I hope you’ll also check back tonight to help us live blog.