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tv   NBC News Special The January 6th Hearings The House Investigates  NBC  June 9, 2022 5:00pm-6:59pm PDT

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important game four is. >> the tipoff is at 6:00 p.m. part of the january 6th attack, live look at the u.s. capitol, 500 days ago. the house committee is holding his first public hearing and is now joining -- special hearing and 7:00. lester holt from los angeles is next. nbc news special report. the unprecedented primetime hearing. the results of a yearlong investigation into the january 6th attack. more than a thousand witnesses interviewed. new evidence, and never before seen videos set to be revealed tonight. as the january 6th committee seeks to answer who's to blame for the assault on the nation's capitol.
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here now is lester holt. >> good evening, it was the worst attack on our nation's capitol in more than 200 years, and it is one of the most documented events in american history. the insurrection of january 6th played out live on tv, and since then, even more chilling videos have emerged of rioters overpowering capitol police and storming the halls of congress. but there is still so much we do not yet know about that day. tonight, the january 6th committee will try to make the case that former president donald trump was directly responsible for those events as part of an effort to overturn the results of the 2020 election. these hearings are a result of a yearlong investigation by the january 6th committee. it has issued nearly 100 subpoenas and interviewed more than 1,000 witnesses, some from former president trump's inner circle, both his daughter, ivanka trump, and son-in-law, jared kushner, were interviewed. we expect to see clips of some
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of those interviews tonight. we also expect to see new videos from the moments of the attack. we have been told some are quite graphic, and some contain explicit language, so a warning to our viewers. we will air what is displayed by the committee. much of the focus will be on president trump, his false claims that the election was stolen, what he said at a rally in the hours leading up to the attack, and his actions while the assault was under way. mr. trump and his allies have described these hearings as a partisan witch hunt. democrats do lead the committee alongside only two republicans. both of them had previously voted to impeach the former president. we should note this is not a legal proceeding. no one is on trial. the committee says the goal is to learn what happened so it never happens again. tonight, we're told will serve as a sort of opening statement, the first in a series of hearings that will be very different than traditional congressional hearings.
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the committee has hired a television consultant to help produce it for a primetime audience. so, while it will begin with opening statements from the chairman, democrat bennie thompson, and vice chair, republican liz cheney, even those statements will have video components. our teams are standing by for full coverage of this historic hearing. let's take you inside the hearing room now where chairman thompson is starting things off. >> i'm bennie thompson, chairman of the january 6th 2021 committee. i was born, raised, and still live in bolton, mississippi, a town with a population of 521, which is midway between jackson and vicksburg, mississippi, and the mississippi river. i'm from a part of the country where people justify the actions of slavery, the ku klux klan, and lynching. i'm reminded of that dark history as i hear voices today
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trying to justify the actions of the insurrectionists on january 6th. over the next few weeks, hopefully you will get to know the other members, my colleagues up here, and me. we represent a diversity of communities from all over the united states, rural areas and cities, east coast, west coast, and the heartland. all of us have one thing in common. we swore the same oath. that same oath that all members of congress take upon taking office and afterwards every two years, if they are re-elected. we swore an oath to defend the constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. the words of the current oath taken by all of us that nearly every united states government employee takes, have their roots
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in the civil war. throughout our history, the united states has fought against foreign enemies to preserve our democracy, electoral system, and country. when the united states capitol was stormed and burned in 1814, foreign enemies were responsible. at the war in 1862, when american citizens had taken up arms against this country, congress adopted a new oath to help make sure no person who had supported the rebellion could hold a position of public trust. therefore, congresspersons and united states federal government employees were required, for the first time, to swear an oath to defend the constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. that oath was put to test on
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january 6th, 2021. the police officers who held the line that day honor their oath. many came out of that day bloodied and broken. they still bear those wounds, visible and invisible. they did their duty. they repelled a mob and ended the occupation of the capitol. they defended the constitution against domestic enemies so that congress could return, uphold our own oath, and count your votes to ensure the transfer of power just as we've done for hundreds of years. but unlike in 1814, it was domestic enemies of the constitution who stormed the capitol and occupied the capitol. who sought to thwart the will of the people, to stop the transfer
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of power, and so they did so at the encouragement of the president of the united states. the president of the united states trying to stop the transfer of power, a precedent that had stood for 220 years, even as our democracy had faced its most difficult test. thinking back again to the civil war, in the summer of 1864, the president of the united states believed we would be doomed to his bid for re-election. he believed his opponent, general george mcclellan, would wave the white flag when it came to preserving the union, but even with that grim fate hanging in the balance, president lincoln was ready to accept the will of the voters come what may. he made a quiet pledge.
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he wrote down the words, "this morning, as for some days past, it seems exceedingly probable that this administration will not be re-elected. then it will be my duty to so cooperate with the president-elect. it will be my duty." lincoln sealed that memo and asked his cabinet secretaries to sign it, sight unseen. he asked them to make the same commitment he did to accept defeat if indeed defeat was the will of the people, to uphold the rule of law, to do what every president who came before him did and what every president who followed him would do. until donald trump. donald trump lost the presidential election in 2020. the american people voted him
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out of office. it was not because of a rigged system. it was not because of voter fraud. don't believe me? hear what his former attorney general had to say about it. i warn those who watching that this contains strong language. >> now, just what i have been -- i have had -- i had three discussions with the president that i can recall. one was on november 23rd. one was on december 1st. and one was on december 14th. and i have been through sort of the give and take of those discussions, and in that context, i made it clear i did not agree with the idea of saying the election was stolen and putting out this stuff, which i told the president was bull. and you know, i didn't want to be a part of it, and that's one of the reasons that went into me deciding to leave when i did.
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i observed -- i think it was on december 1st, that, you know, you can't live in a world where the incumbent administration stays in power based on its view, unsupported by specific evidence, that the election -- that there was fraud in the election. >> bill barr, on election day 2020, he was the attorney general of the united states, the top law enforcement official in the country, telling the president exactly what he thought about claims of a stolen election. donald trump had his days in court to challenge the results. he was within his rights to seek those judgments. in the united states, law-abiding citizens have those tools for pursuing justice. he lost in the courts, just as he did at the ballot box. and in this country, that's the end of the line. but for donald trump, that was
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only the beginning of what became a sprawling, multistep conspiracy aimed at overturning the presidential election, aimed at throwing out the votes of millions of americans, your votes, your voice in our democracy, and replacing the will of the american people with his will to remain in power after his term ended. donald trump was at the center of this conspiracy and ultimately donald trump, the president of the united states, spurred a mob of domestic enemies of the constitution to march down the capitol and subvert american democracy. any legal jargon you hear about seditious conspiracy, obstruction of an official proceeding, conspiracy to defraud the united states, boils down to this.
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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. now, you may hear those words and think, this is just another political attack on donald trump by people who don't like him. that's not the case. my colleagues and i all wanted an outside, independent commission to investigate january 6th similar to what we had after 9/11. but after first greeting to the idea, donald trump's allies in congress put a stop to it, apparently they don't want january 6th investigated at all,
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and in the last 17 months, many of those same people have tried to whitewash what happened on january 6th, to rewrite history, call it a tourist visit, label it legitimate political discourse. donald trump and his followers have adopted the words of the songwriter, "do you believe me or your lying eyes?" we can't sweep what happened under the rug. 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. the constitution doesn't protect just democrats or just republicans. it protects all of us. we the people. and this scheme was an attempt to undermine the will of the people. so, tonight, and over the next
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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 of 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 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
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freedom, a model for others when we are at our best. how can we play that role when our house is in such disorder? 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. working alongside the public servants on this dais has been one of the greatest honors of my time in congress. it's been a particular privilege to count as a partner in this effort, and to count as a friend, the gentlewoman from
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wyoming, ms. cheney. she's a patriot, a public servant of profound courage, of devotion to her oath, and the constitution. it's my pleasure to recognize ms. cheney for her opening statement. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman, and let me echo those words about the importance of bipartisanship and what a tremendous honor it is to work on this committee. mr. chairman, at 6:01 p.m. on january 6th, after he spent hours watching a violent mob besiege, attack, and invade our capitol, donald trump tweeted, but he did not condemn the attack. instead, he justified it. "these are the things and events that happen," he said, "when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously and virksly stripped away from great patriots who have been
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badly and unfairly treated for so long." as you will see in the hearings to come, president trump believed his supporters at the capitol, and i quote, "were doing what they should be doing." this is what he told his staff as they pleaded with him to call off the mob. to instruct his supporters to leave. over a series of hearings in the coming weeks, you will hear testimony, live and on video, from more than half a dozen former white house staff in the trump administration, all of whom were in the west wing of the white house on january 6th. you will hear testimony that, quote, the president did not really want to put anything out, calling off the riot or asking his supporters to leave. you will hear that president trump was yelling and, quote, really angry at advisors who told him he needed to be doing something more. and aware of the rioters' chants
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to hang mike pence, the president responded with this sentiment. "maybe our supporters have the right idea." mike pence, quote, deserves it. you will hear evidence that president trump refused, for hours, to do what his staff, his family, and many of his other advisors begged him to do. immediately instruct his supporters to stand down and evacuate the capitol. tonight, you will see never-before-seen footage of the brutal attack on our capitol, an attack that unfolded while a few blocks away, president trump sat watching television in the dining room next to the oval office. you will hear audio from the brave police officers, battling for their lives and ours, fighting to defend our democracy against a violent mob donald trump refused to call off. tonight, and in the weeks to come, you will see evidence of
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what motivated this violence, including directly from those who participated in this attack. you will see video of them explaining what caused them to do it. you will see their posts on social media. we will show you what they have said in federal court. on this point, there is no room for debate. those who invaded our capitol and battled law enforcement for hours were motivated by what president trump had told them, that the election was stolen and that he was the rightful president. president trump summoned the mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack. you will also hear about plots to commit seditious conspiracy on january 6th. a crime defined in our laws as conspiring to overthrow, put down, or destroy, by force, the government of the united states or to oppose, by force, the authority thereof. multiple members of two groups,
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the oath keepers, and the proud boys, have been charged with this crime for their involvement in the events leading up to and on january 6th. some have pled guilty. the attack on our capitol was not a spontaneous riot. intelligence available before january 6th identified plans to, quote, invade the capitol, occupy the capitol, and take other steps to halt congress's count of electoral votes that day. in our hearings to come, we will identify elements of those plans, and we will show specifically how a group of proud boys led a mob into the capitol building on january 6th. tonight, i am going to describe for you some of what our committee has learned and highlight initial findings you will see this month in our hearings. as you hear this, all americans should keep in mind this fact.
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on the morning of january 6th, president donald trump's intention was to remain president of the united states, despite the lawful outcome of the 2020 election and in violation of his constitutional obligation to relinquish power. over multiple months, donald trump oversaw and coordinated a sophisticated seven-part plan to overturn the presidential election and prevent the transfer of presidential power. in our hearings, you will see evidence of each element of this plan. in our second hearing, you will see that donald trump and his advisors knew that he had, in fact, lost the election. but despite this, president trump engaged in a massive effort to spread false and fraudulent information, to convince huge portions of the u.s. population that fraud had stolen the election from him. this was not true.
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jason miller was a senior trump campaign spokesman. in this clip, miller describes the call between the trump campaign's internal data expert and president trump a few days after the 2020 election. >> i was in the oval office, and at some point in the conversation, the lead data person was brought on, and i remember he delivered to the president pretty blunt terms that he was going to lose. >> and that was based, mr. miller, on matt and the data team's assessment of the sort of county-by-county, state-by-state results as reported? >> correct. >> alex canon was one of president trump's campaign lawyers. he previously worked for the trump organization. one of his responsibilities was
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to assess allegations of election fraud in november 2020. here is one sample of his testimony, discussing what he told white house chief of staff mark meadows. >> i remember a call with mr. meadows where mr. meadows was asking me what i was finding and if i was finding anything, and i remember sharing with him that we weren't finding anything that would be sufficient to change the results in any of the key states. >> when was that conversation? >> probably in november, mid to late november. i think it was before my child was born. >> and what was mr. meadows's reaction to that information? >> i believe the words he used, were, so there's no there there? >> there's no there there. the trump campaign's general
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counsel, matt morgan, gave similar testimony. he explained that all of the fraud allegations and the campaign's other election arguments taken together and viewed in the best possible light for president trump could still not change the outcome of the election. president trump's attorney general, bill barr, also told donald trump his election claims were wrong. >> repeatedly told the president, in no uncertain terms, that i did not see evidence of fraud, and, you know, that would have affected the outcome of the election. and frankly, a year and a half later, i haven't seen anything to change my mind on that. >> attorney general barr also told president trump that his allegations about dominion
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voting machines were groundless. >> i saw absolutely zero basis for the allegations, but they were made in such a sensational way that they obviously were influencing a lot of people, members of the public, that there was this systemic corruption in the system and that their votes didn't count and that these machines controlled by somebody else were actually determining it. which was complete nonsense. and it was being laid out there, and i told him that it was crazy stuff. and they were wasting their time on that. and it was doing a grave disservice to the country. >> but president trump persisted, repeating the false dominion allegations in public at least a dozen more times, even after his attorney general told him they were, quote, complete nonsense. and after barr's resignation on december 23rd, the acting attorney general who replaced
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him, jeff rosen, and the acting deputy, richard donoghue, told president trump over and over again that the evidence did not support allegations he was making in public. many of president trump's white house staff also recognized that the evidence did not support the claims president trump was making. this is the president's daughter, commenting on bill barr's statement that the department found no fraud sufficient to overturn the election. >> how did that affect your perspective about the election, when attorney general barr made that statement? >> it affected my perspective. i respect attorney general barr, so i accepted what he was saying. >> as you will hear on monday, the president had every right to litigate his campaign claims, but he ultimately lost more than 60 cases in state and federal courts. the president's claims in the election cases were so frivolous
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and unsupported that the president's lead lawyer, rudy giuliani, not only lost the lawsuits, his license to practice law was suspended. here's what the court said of mr. giuliani. "giuliani communicated demonstrably false and misleading statements to courts, lawmakers, and the public at large in his capacity as lawyer for former president donald j. trump and the trump campaign in connection with trump's failed effort at re-election in 2020." as you will see in great detail in our hearings, president trump ignored the rulings of our nation's courts. he ignored his own campaign leadership, his white house staff, many republican state officials. he ignored the department of justice and the department of homeland security. president trump invested millions of dollars of campaign funds, purposely spreading false
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information, running ads he knew were false, and convincing millions of americans that the election was corrupt and that he was the true president. as you will see, this misinformation campaign provoked the violence on january 6th. in our third hearing, you will see that president trump corruptly planned to replace the attorney general of the united states so the u.s. justice department would spread his false stolen election claims. in the days before january 6th, president trump told his top justice department officials, "just say the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the republican congressmen." senior justice department officials, men he had appointed, told him they could not do that, because it was not true. so, president trump decided to replace them. he offered jeff clark, an environmental lawyer at the
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justice department, the job of acting attorney general. president trump wanted mr. clark to take a number of steps, including sending this letter to georgia and five other states, saying the u.s. department of justice had "identified significant concerns that may have impacted the outcome of the election." this letter is a lie. the department of justice had, in fact, repeatedly told president trump exactly the opposite. that they had investigated his stolen election allegations and found no credible fraud that could impact the outcome of the election. this letter and others like it would have urged multiple states to withdraw their official and lawful electoral votes for biden. acting deputy attorney general richard donoghue described jeff clark's letter this way. "this would be a grave step for the department to take and could have tremendous constitutional, political, and social
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ramifications for this country." the committee agrees with mr. donahue's assessment. had clark assumed the role of attorney general in the days before january 6th, and issued these letters, the ramifications could indeed have been grave. mr. donoghue also said this about clark's plan. >> and i recall toward the end saying, what you're proposing is nothing less than the united states justice department meddling in the outcome of a presidential election. >> in our hearings, you will hear firsthand how the senior leadership of the department of justice threatened to resign, how the white house counsel threatened to resign, and how they confronted donald trump and jeff clark in the oval office. the men involved, including acting attorney general jeff rosen and acting deputy attorney general richard donoghue, were appointed by president trump. these men honored their oaths of office. they did their duty. and you will hear from them in our hearings.
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by contrast, jeff clark has invoked his fifth amendment privilege against self-incrimination and refused to testify. representative scott perry, who was also involved in trying to get clark appointed as attorney general, has refused to testify here. as you will see, representative perry contacted the white house in the weeks after january 6th to seek a presidential pardon. multiple other republican congressmen also sought presidential pardons for their roles in attempting to overturn the 2020 election. in our fourth hearing, we will focus on president trump's efforts to pressure vice president mike pence to refuse to count electoral votes on january 6th. vice president pence has spoken publicly about this. >> president trump is wrong. i had no right to overturn the election. the presidency belongs to the
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american people and the american people alone. and frankly, there is no idea more un-american than the notion that any one person could choose the american president. >> what president trump demanded that mike pence do wasn't just wrong. it was illegal, and it was unconstitutional. you will hear this in great detail from the vice president's former general counsel. witnesses in these hearings will explain how the former vice president and his staff informed president trump over and over again that what he was pressuring mike pence to do was illegal. as you will hear, president trump engaged in a relentless effort to pressure pence, both in private and in public. you will see the evidence of that pressure from multiple witnesses, live and on video. vice president pence demonstrated his loyalty to donald trump consistently over four years. but he knew that he had a higher
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duty to the united states constitution. this is testimony from the vice president's chief of staff. >> i think the vice president was proud of his four years of service, and he felt like much had been accomplished in those four years, and i think he was proud to have stood beside the president for all that had been done, but i think he ultimately knew that his fidelity to the constitution was his first and foremost oath. and that's what he articulated publicly, and i think that's what he felt. >> his fidelity to the constitution was more important than his fidelity to president trump and his -- >> his oath he took. yes. >> you'll also hear about a lawyer named john eastman. mr. eastman was deeply involved in president trump's plans. you'll hear from former fourth circuit federal judge michael ludig, the highly respected leading conservative judge. john eastman clerked for judge ludig. judge ludig provided counsel to the vice president's team in the
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days before january 6th. the judge will explain how eastman, quote, was wrong at every turn. and you will see the email exchanges between eastman and the vice president's counsel as the violent attack on congress was under way. mr. jacobs said this to mr. eastman. "thanks to your bull, we are under siege." you will also see evidence that john eastman did not actually believe the legal position he was taking. in fact, the month before the 2020 election, eastman took exactly the opposite view on the same legal issues. in the course of the select committee's work to obtain information from mr. eastman, we have had occasion to present evidence to a federal judge. the judge evaluated the facts, and he reached the conclusion that president trump's efforts to pressure vice president pence to act illegally by refusing to count electoral votes likely violated two federal criminal
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statutes. and the judge also said this. "if dr. eastman and president trump's plan had worked, it would have permanently ended the peaceful transition of power, undermining american democracy and the constitution. if the country does not commit to investigating and pursuing accountability for those responsible, the court fears january 6th will repeat itself." every american should read what this federal judge has written. the same judge, judge carter, issued another decision on tuesday night, just this week, indicating that john eastman and other trump lawyers knew that their legal arguments had no real chance of success in court, but they relied on those arguments anyway to try to "overturn a democratic election." and you will hear that while congress was under attack on january 6th, and the hours following the violence, the
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trump legal team in the willard hotel war room continued to work to halt the count of electoral votes. in our fifth hearing, you will see evidence that president trump corruptly pressured state legislators and election officials to change election results. you will hear additional details about president trump's call to georgia officials, urging them to "find is 11,780 votes," votes that did not exist, and his efforts to get states to rescind certified electoral plates without factual basis and contrary to law. you will hear new details about the trump campaign and other trump associates' efforts to instruct republican officials in multiple states to create intentionally false electoral slates and transmit those slates to congress, to the vice president, and the national archives, falsely certifying that trump won states he actually lost.
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in our final two june hearings, you will hear how president trump summoned a violent mob and directed them illegally to march on the united states capitol. while the violence was under way, president trump failed to take immediate action to stop the violence and instruct his t. as we present these initial findings, keep two points in mind. first, our investigation is still ongoing. so what we make public here will not be the complete set of information we will ultimately disclose. and second, the department of justice is currently working with cooperating witnesses and has disclosed to date only some of the information it has identified from encrypted communications and other sources. on december 18, 2020, a group, including general michael flynn, sidney powell, rudy giuliani, and others visited the white house. they stayed late into the evening.
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we know that the group discussed a number of dramatic steps, including having the military seize voting machines and potentially rerun elections. you will also hear that president trump met with that group alone for a period of time before white house lawyers and other staff discovered the group was there and rushed to intervene. a little more than an hour after ms. powell, mr. giuliani, general flynn, and the others finally left the white house, president trump sent the tweet on the screen now, telling people to come to washington on january 6th. "be there," he instructed them. "will be wild." as you will see, this was a pivotal moment. this tweet initiated a chain of events. the tweet led to the planning for what occurred on january 6th, including by the proud boys, who ultimately led the invasion of the capitol and the violence on that day.
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the indictment of a group of proud boys alleges that they planned "to oppose by force the authority of the government of the united states." and according to the department of justice, on january 6th, 2021, the defendants directed, mobilized and led members of the crowd on to the capitol grounds and into the capitol, leading to the dismantling of metal barricades, the destruction of property, the breaching of the capitol building, and the assault on law enforcement. although certain former trump officials have argued that they did not anticipate violence on january 6th, the evidence suggests otherwise. as you will see in our hearings, the white house was receiving specific reports in the days leading up to january 6th, including during president trump's ellipse rally, indicating that elements in the crowd were preparing for violence at the capitol. and on the evening of january
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5th, the president's close advisor, steve bannon, said this on his podcast. >> all hell is going to break loose tomorrow. just understand this. all hell is going to break loose tomorrow. >> as part of our investigation, we will present information about what the white house and other intelligence agencies knew and why the capitol was not better prepared. but we will not lose sight of the fact that the capitol police did not cause the crowd to attack. and we will not blame the violence that day, violence provoked by donald trump, on the officers who bravely defended all of us. in our final hearing, you will hear a moment-by-moment account of the hourslong attack from more than half a dozen white house staff, both live in the hearing room, and via videotape testimony. there's no doubt that president trump was well aware of the
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violence as it developed. white house staff urged president trump to intervene and call off the mob. here's a document written while the attack was under way by a member of the white house staff, advising what the president needed to say. "anyone who entered the capitol without proper authority should leave immediately." this is exactly what his supporters on capitol hill and nationwide were urging the president to do. he would not. you will hear that leaders on capitol hill begged the president for help, including republican leader mccarthy who was, "scared." and called multiple members of president trump's family after he could not persuade the president himself. not only did president trump refuse to tell the mob to leave the capitol, he placed no call to any element of the united states government to instruct that the capitol be defended. he did not call his secretary of defense on january 6th.
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he did not talk to his attorney general. he did not talk to the department of homeland security. president trump gave no order to deploy the national guard that day. and he made no effort to work with the department of justice to coordinate and deploy law enforcement assets. but vice president pence did each of those things. for example, here's what general milley, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, testified to this committee. >> so, two or three calls with vice president pence. he was very animated and he issued very explicit, very direct, unambiguous orders. there was no question about that. and he was -- and i can get you the exact quotes, i guess, from some of our records somewhere, but he was very animated, very direct, very firm to secretary miller.
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get the military down here. get the guard down here. push down this situation, etc. >> by contrast, here is general milley's description of his conversation with president trump's chief of staff, mark meadows, on january 6th. >> he said, "we have -- we have to kill the narrative that the vice president is making all the decisions. we need to establish the narrative that, you know, that the president is still in charge and that things are steady or stable" or words to that effect. i immediately interpreted that as politics, politics, politics, red flag for me personally, no action, but i remember it distinctly. >> and you will hear from witnesses how the day played out inside the white house, how multiple white house staff resigned in disgust and how president trump would not ask
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his supporters to leave the capitol. it was only after multiple hours of violence that president trump finally released a video instructing the riotous mob to leave, and as he did so, he said to them, "we love you and you're very special." 6th, members of the president's family, white house staff, and others tried to step in to stabilize the situation. "to land the plane before the presidential transition on january 20th." you will hear about members of the trump cabinet discussing the possibility of invoking the 25th amendment and replacing the president of the united states. multiple members of president trump's own cabinet resigned immediately after january 6th. one member of the cabinet suggested that the remaining cabinet officers needed to take a more active role in running
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the white house and the administration. but most emblematic of those days is this exchange of texts between sean hannity and former president trump's press secretary, kayleigh mcenany. sean hannity wrote, in part, "key now, no more crazy people. no more stolen election talk. yes, impeachment and 25th amendment are real. ms. mcenany responded, in part, "love that the white house staff knew that presenwawilling to entertain and use conspiracy theories to achieve his ends. they knew the president needed to be cut off from all of those who had encouraged him. they knew that president trump was too dangerous to be left alone. at least until he left office on january 20th. these are important facts for congress and the american people
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to understand fully. when a president fails to take the steps necessary to preserve our union, or worse, causes a constitutional crisis, we're at a moment of maximum danger for our republic. some in the white house took responsible steps to try to prevent january 6th. others egged the president on. others, who could have acted, refused to do so. in this case, the white house counsel was so concerned about potentially lawless activity that he threatened to resign multiple times. that is exceedingly rare and exceedingly serious. it requires immediate attention, especially when the entire team threatens to resign. however, in the trump white house, it was not exceedingly rare, and it was not treated seriously. this is a clip of jared kushner addressing multiple threats by
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white house counsel pat cipollone and his team of lawyers to resign in the weeks before jik. january 6th. >> jared, are you aware of instances where pat cipollone threatened to resign? >> i kind of -- like i said, my interest at that time was on trying to get as many pardons done, and i know that, you know, he was always -- him and the team were always saying, oh, we're going to resign, we're not going to be here if this happens, if that happens, so i kind of took it up to just be whining, to be honest with you. >> whining. there's a reason why people serving in our government take an oath to the constitution. as our founding fathers recognized, democracy is fragile. people in positions of public trust are duty bound to defend it. to step forward when action is required. in our country, we don't swear an oath to an individual or a political party. we take our oath to defend the
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united states constitution. and that oath must mean something. tonight, i say this to my republican colleagues who are defending the indefensible. there will come a day when donald trump is gone, but your dishonor will remain. finally, i ask all of our fellow americans, as you watch our hearings over the coming weeks, please remember what's at stake. remember the men and women who have fought and died so that we can live under the rule of law, not the rule of men. i ask you to think of the scene in our capitol rotunda on the night of january 6th. there, in a sacred space in our constitutional republic, the place where our presidents lie in state, watched over by statues of washington and jefferson, lincoln and grant, eisenhower, ford, and reagan, against every wall that night encircling the room, there were s.w.a.t. teams, men and women in
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tactical gear with long guns deployed inside our capitol building. there in the rotunda, these brave men and women rested beneath paintings depicting the earliest scenes of our republic, including one painted in 1824 depicting george washington resigning his commission, voluntarily relinquishing power, handing control of the continental army back to congress. with this noble act, washington set the indispensable example of the peaceful transfer of power. what president reagan called nothing less than a miracle. the sacred obligation to defend this peaceful transfer of power has been honored by every american president except one. as americans, we all have a duty to ensure that what happened on january 6th never happens again. to set aside partisan battles, to stand together to perpetuate
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and preserve our great republic. thank you, mr. chairman. >> as we provide answers to american people about january 6th, it's important that we remember exactly what took place. that this was no tourist visit to the capitol. most of the footage we are about to play has never been seen. the select committee obtained it as a part of our investigation. this isn't easy to watch. i want to warn everyone that this video includes violence and strong language. without objection, i include in the record a video presentation of the violence of january 6th. >> just be advised, there's
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probably about 300 proud boys, they're marching eastbound in this 400 block of kind of indeputy -- actually on the mall towards the united states capitol. >> usa, usa, usa. >> i'm not allowed to say what's going to happen today, because everyone's just going to have to watch for themselves. but it's going to happen. something's going to happen. >> whose streets? our streets. whose streets? our streets. >> don't make us go against you. >> pick a side. these are our streets. >> 20 bucks a picture. >> i hope mike is going to do the right thing. i hope so. i hope so. because if mike pence does the
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right thing, we win the election. all vice president pence has to do is send it back to the states to recertify, and we become president and you are the happiest people. mike pence is going to have to come through for us, and if he doesn't, that will be a sad day for our country. because you'll never take back our country with weakness. you have to show strength, and you have to be strong. >> usa, usa, usa! >> it does look like we're going to have an ad hoc march stepping off here. there's a crowd surge heading east. >> we love trump, we love trump. >> mike pence, i hope you're going to stand up for the good of our constitution and for the
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good of our country. >> usa, usa, usa. >> get back, lady. get back. >> we just had protesters breach the line. we need backup. >> what are you doing? >> madam speaker, the vice president and the united states
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senate. >> we're going to give riot warnings. this is now officially a riot. >> declaring it a riot.yi to brt into the capitol. >> copy. >> hold the line, hold the line. >> 42, we're trying to make our
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way through all this. >> go, go, go. >> we have a breach on the capitol. breach on the capitol. upper level. >> be advised they are requesting additional resources on the east side as they have broken into that window and they're trying to kick it in. >> without objection, the chair declares the house in recess pursuant to clause 12-b of rule 1. >> mike pence didn't have the courage to do what should have been done d r constitution.
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giving states a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. u.s. demands the truth. >> bring out pence. >> hang mike pence, hang mike
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pence. >> we can't hold it. there's too many people. look at this vantage point. >> we need an area for the house members. they're all walking over now through the tunnels. we're trying to hold the upper deck. we are trying to hold the upper deck now.
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we need to hold the doors of the capitol. i need support. >> we've lost the line. we've lost the line. pd fall back to the upper deck. pd fall back to the upper deck
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asap. >> look at me, look at me. >> be advised that capitol police are moving their resources inside. they're going to start the officers first. >> those barricades, there's people in the hallways outside and we have no way out. >> officers still remaining on the house floor, use -- evacuate so we can secure the members on the other side. copy. >> it's up to us people now, the
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american people. one more time. >> are you ready to do? >> whatever it takes. i'll lay my life down if it takes. absolutely. that's why we showed up today. >> we're coming in if you don't bring her out. you back up. you back up. >> officer down. >> get him up. get him up.
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>> usa, usa, usa. >> backup. >> back up, back up. >> they were peaceful people. these were great people. the crowd was unbelievable, and
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i mentioned the word love. the love -- the love in the air, i've never seen anything like it. >> pursuant to the order of the committee of tonight, the chair declares the committee in recess for a period of approximately ten minutes. >> and as you heard, the committee now taking that recess about ten minutes, the estimation. but there was a lot of information here in that past hour as the committee began to build their case that former president trump was responsible for the events of january 6th. first, there was that dramatic newly revealed video of the insurrection under way, including an overhead angle showing protesters storming the capitol and then the violence
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played out on body cams and other surveillance video. they then made their way up the steps and forced their way inside. we should say, let you know when that video was played, there were officers inside the hearing room who were watching and fighting back tears sometimes unsuccessfully. next congresswoman liz cheney presenting evidence that the president was told repeatedly that he lost the election but still continued to say it was stolen. she even played clips from his inner circle, including his daughter and son-in-law testifying that he was informed there was no fraud. and we heard from the chairman of the joint chiefs at the time who testified that while he heard from vice president mike pence, pleading for forces to be sent in, he never heard it from the president. our team is standing by to break it all down during this break. let me first bring in our political director and moderator of "meet the press," chuck todd. chuck, we noted at the beginning of this, this is not a criminal proceeding, but there is a goal
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here among these members of this committee. have they achieved it? >> well, i think they're beginning -- they certainly made it very powerful, what i would call an opening statement, if you will, an opening argument. it struck me, lester, you and i have covered two impeachments together of then president trump, and in some ways, this is the third impeachment here. and this is what happens when you get a year to do investigations, and when you get his attorney general on the record and you get his -- some of his senior advisors on the record. as powerful as i think the jamie raskin opening statement was in the second impeachment that was essentially over the former president's role right after january 6th, this is what happens when you get another year of investigation. you get more of this evidence. this takes what was a powerful opening before and i think brings it right to the doorstep of the former president, and i think that's what made it -- and
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the other thing that struck me about what they've done so far, both chairman thompson and vice chair cheney, is that they've been methodical about it. they've not been overcharged about it, overheated. they've been stating the fact, backing it up with receipts. i think it's been a powerful first hour, and again, if this were -- if we compare it to the previous actual impeachments that we've seen, this is easily the most powerful opening we have had of the three, and i think those other two were pretty powerful. >> okay. chuck, as we stand by during this period, this break period, let me turn to washington. senior washington correspondent hallie jackson. hallie, let me ask you about this video we saw. a lot of these shots will seem familiar to people but maybe from a different angle. so much to sort through. what struck you? what should we hone in on? >> we've seen so much footage at this point, lester, right, of what happened on the day of the insurrection. we've seen it from people's cell phone videos, we've seen it from
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the impeachment trials you and chuck were just talking about, the second impeachment trial. what was different he's, these are some new angles, some new perspectives of what happened. some of those higher angle shots, for example, showing the rioters filling the area outside the capitol before storming the building. you had this new audio in some instances of what these officers who were trying to defend the capitol were going through. it just doesn't get any easier to watch, right? and that, i think, is what is -- is part and parcel of what the committee wanted to get across there. there was that decision to show video of not just house speaker nancy pelosi's office but top house republican kevin mccarthy's office too. and what was happening there that day. and then you had some new images too and some audio from a documentarian filmmaker, a british guy named nick quested. he's one of the witnesses we'll hear from after the break, who was essentially filming the proud boys so that's some of the footage that is -- looks a little bit different from some of the cell phone video that you may have seen. we heard from some of the people
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there, somebody saying, i'll lay down my life if that's what it takes, for example. so in some ways you're right, lester, this is overall somewhat familiar because we have seen images like these before, but again, it just doesn't get easier. >> hallie, let me ask you about some of the witness clips that were shown. many of them were trump insiders, his daughter, ivanka, his former attorney general, how powerful was that? how much of that will we be seeing going forward? >> these are trump insiders, right? i mean, to the very level of ivanka trump and jared kushner. members of his family and by the way, official members of the white house as senior advisors, for example. his former attorney general, bill barr, jason miller, a top trump campaign advisor, and what was interesting here is, first, you saw the committee cast this, and this is an important part of their argument here, as trump insiders knowing, they say, that the election fraud claims they were making were not true. knowing that in november, months before the january 6th insurrection, weeks before the
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insurrection happened. you also had the attorney general at the time, bill barr, explaining -- and he said this publicly, lester. he said this to you, explaining how he very directly said to former president trump, no, these claims are not true. i want to play a little bit of what the former a.g. said and then how the former president's daughter, ivanka trump, reacted to that, how she was asked about that. watch. >> i repeatedly told the president in no uncertain terms that i did not see evidence of fraud, and you know, that would have affected the outcome of the election. and frankly, a year and a half later, i haven't seen anything to change my mind on that. >> how did that affect your perspective about the election, when attorney general barr made that statement? >> it affected my perspective.
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i respect attorney general barr. so, i accepted what he was saying. >> so that's the former president's daughter, acknowledging and accepting that there was no widespread election fraud, despite the election lies, essentially, that her father then sought to promote. it is worth noting, though, that while ivanka trump said that to the january 6th select committee, it has been reported that she privately was attempting to push back on some of the claims being made. she still appeared with her father at a rally in georgia two days before the insurrection, lester. >> all right, hallie, thank you very much. again, we're waiting for this break to end, and this hearing to resume, but we will take a quick pause here, but we'll be back with more testimony, including from two people who were in the middle of those clashes outse the
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♪♪ welcome back to our coverage of the first primetime hearing of the january 6th committee. we're now going to hear from two witnesses, both of whom were in the middle of the clashes between rioters and police. >> the committee will be in order. i want to thank our witnesses for being with us this evening to share their firsthand accounts of that terrible day. i know that some of the witnesses from our first hearing are in the room with us, along
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with some of the family members, friends, and widows of the officers who lost their lives as a result of the attack. thank you all for being here for us and the american people. officer carolyn edwards has been with the united states capitol police since 2017. on january 6th, officer edwards was assigned to the first responder unit which serves as the first line of defense at the capitol complex. she also served as a member of the civil disturbance unit, a special subset of the uniformed division trained to respond to mass demonstration events. officer edwards is a graduate of the university of georgia and currently is working on a master's degree in intelligence analysis from johns hopkins
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university. nick quested is an acclaimed filmmaker whose credits include documenting stories from war zones in afghanistan, syria, and iraq. on january 6th, mr. quested was working on a documentary about, quote, why americans are so divided when americans have so much in common. during that day, mr. quested interviewed and documented movements of the people around the capitol, including the first moments of the violence against the capitol police and the chaos that ensued. i will now swear in our witnesses. the witnesses will please stand and raise your right hand. do you swear and affirm under penalty of perjury that the
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testimony you're about to give is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth? so help you god? >> yes. >> i do. >> let the record reflect the witnesses answered in the affirmative. without objection, the witnesses' statement will be included in the record. pursuant to section 5c8 of house resolution 503, i recognize myself for questioning. as you saw just a few minutes ago, the proud boys instigated the first breach of the capitol just before 1:00 p.m. where rioters pushed over barricades near the peace circle at the foot of the capitol. our two witnesses tonight were
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both there at the time of that first breach. officer edwards was standing with other officers behind a line of bike racks that marked the perimeter of the capitol grounds. she bravely tried to prevent an angry crowd from advancing on the capitol. unfortunately, she was overrun and knocked unconscious as the crowd advanced on the capitol. mr. quested was a few yards away from officer edwards, taking footage of the proud boys as part of his work on a documentary film. most of his footage has never been shown publicly before we shared it this evening. officer edwards, i'd like to start by asking if you could tell us why you believe it's important for you to share your committee and the american
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public. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> please, your microphone. >> well, thank you, mr. chairman, i really appreciate it, and thank you to the committee for having me here to testify. i was called a lot of things on january 6th, 2021, and the days thereafter. i was called nancy pelosi's dog, called incompetent, called a hero, and a villain. i was called a traitor to my country, my oath, and my constitution. in actuality, i was none of those things. i was an american standing face-to-face with other americans asking myself how many times -- many, many times, how we had gotten here. i had been called names before, but never had my patriotism or
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duty been called into question. i, who got up every day, no matter how early the hour or how late i got in the night before, to put on my uniform and to protect america's symbol of democracy. i, who spent countless hours in the baking sun and freezing snow to make sure that america's elected officials were able to do their job. i, whose literal blood, sweat, and tears were shed that day defending the building that i spent countless holidays and weekends working in. i am the proud granddaughter of a marine that fought in the battle of the chosen reservoir in the korean war. i think of my papa often in these days, how he was so young and thrown into a battle he never saw coming and answered the call at a great personal cost. how he lived the rest of his days with bullets and shrapnel in his legs but never once
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complained about his sacrifice. i would like to think that he would be proud of me, proud of his granddaughter that stood her ground that day and continued fighting, even though she was wounded, like he did many years ago. i am my grandfather's granddaughter, proud to put on a uniform and serve my country. they dared to question my honor. they dared to question my loyalty. and they dared to question my duty. i am a proud american, and i to make sure that the america my grandfather defended is here for many years to come. thank you. >> officer edwards, your story and your service is important, and i thank you for being here tonight. mr. quested, i'd also like to ask you to introduce yourself.
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can you tell us how you found yourself in washington, d.c., on january 6th, 2021? >> good evening, chair and madam vice chair, thank you for the introduction. as stated in the winter of 2020, i was working on a documentary. as part of that documentary, i filmed several rallies in washington, d.c. on december 11 and december 12, and i learned there would be a rally on the mall on january 6th. so, my three colleagues and i came down to document the rally. according to the permit of the event, there was going to be a rally at the ellipse. we arrived at the mall and observed a large contingent of proud boys marching towards the capitol. we filmed them and almost immediately i was separated from my colleagues. i documented the crowd turn from protesters to rioters to insurrectionists. i was surprised at the size of the group, the anger and the profanity. and for anyone who didn't
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understand how violent that i documented it. and i experienced it. i heard incredibly aggressive chanting, and i shared -- subsequently shared that footage with the aut thank you so much. >> thank you, mr. quested. the select committee has conducted extensive investigative work to understand what led the proud boys and other rioters to the capitol on january 6th. we've obtained substantial evidence showing that the president's december 19th tweet calling his followers to washington, d.c., on january 6th energized individuals from the proud boys and other extremist groups. i'd like to play a brief video highlighting some of this evidence.
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>> my name is marcus chill dress and i'm an investigative counsel for the select committee to investigate the january 6th attack on the united states capitol. >> what do you want to call him? give me a name. >> white supremacist. >> who would you like me to condemn? >> proud boys. >> proud boys. stand back and stand by. >> after he made this comment, enrique tarrio said on parler, standing by, sir. this led to an increase in membership of the proud boys. >> would you say that proud boys numbers increased after the stand by, stand back comment? >> exponentially. i would say tripled probably. with the potential for a lot more eventually. >> did you ever sell any stand back and stand by merchandise? >> one of the vendors on my page actually beat me to it but i wish i would have. i wish i would have made a stand back, stand by shirt. >> on december 19th, president trump tweeted about the january
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6th rally and told attendees, be there, will be wild. many of the witnesses that we interviewed were inspired by the president's call and came to d.c. for january 6th. but the extremists, they took it a step further. they viewed this tweet as a call to arms. a day later, the department of justice describes how the proud boys created a chat called the ministry of self-defense leadership chat. in this chat, the proud boys established a command structure in anticipation of coming back to d.c. on january 6th. the department of justice describes mr. tarrio coming into possession of a document called the 1776 returns, which describes individuals occupying key buildings around the united states capitol. the oath keepers are another group that the committee investigated. >> you better get your ass to d.c., folks, this saturday. if you don't, there will be no more republic. but we're not going to let that happen. it's not even if. it's either president trump is encouraged and bolstered and strengthened to do what he must do or we wind up in a ploody fight. we all know that. the fight's coming.
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>> the oath keepers began planning to block the peaceful transfer of power and according to the department of justice, stewart rhodes, the oath keepers leader, said to his followers that we were not going to get through this without a civil war. in response to the december 19th, 2020, tweet by president trump, the oath keepers focused on january 6th in washington, d.c. in response to the tweet, one member, the president of the florida chapter, put on social media, the president called us to the capitol. he wants us to make it wild. the goal was for the oath keepers to be called to duty so they could keep the president in power, although president trump had just lost the election. the committee learned that the oath keepers set up quick reaction forces outside of the city in virginia where they stored arms. the goal of these quick reaction forces was to be on standby just in case president trump invoked the insurrection act. >> did the oath keepers ever provide weapons to members? >> i'm going to decline to answer that on the grounds, for my due process grounds. >> in footage obtained by the committee, we learned that on t
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rhodes met in i think that's what's important. >> the committee learned that the oath keepers went into the capitol to the east doors in two stack formations. the doj alleges that one of the stacks went into the capitol looking for speaker pelosi, although they never found her. as the attack was unfolding, mr. tarrio took credit and documents obtained by the department of justice, mr. tarrio said in an encrypted chat, make no mistake, and we did this. later on that evening, mr. tarrio even posted a video which seemed to resemble him in front of the capitol with a black cape, and the title of the video was "premonition." the evidence developed by the select committee and the department of justice highlights how each group participated in the attack on the capitol on january 6th. >> in fact, the investigation
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revealed that it was individuals associated with the proud boys who instigated the initial breach at the peace circle at 12:53 p.m. >> within ten minutes, rioters had already filled the lower west plaza. by 2:00, rioters had reached the doors on the west and the east plazas. and by 2:13, rioters had actually broken through the senate wing door and gotten to a series of breaches folwe at 2:25 p.m., rioters breached the east side doors to the rotunda. and then right after 2:40 p.m., rioters breached the east side doors near the ways and means room. once the rioters infiltrated the capitol, they moved to the crypt. the rotunda.
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the hallway leading to the house chambers. and even inside the senate chambers. >> individuals associated with two violent extremist groups have been charged with seditious conspiracy in connection with the january 6th attack. one is the oath keepers. they are a group of armed anti-government extremists. the other group is the proud boys. they promote white supremacist beliefs and have engaged in violence with people they view as their political enemies. members of both groups have already pled guilty to crimes associated with the january 6th attack. mr. quested, as part of the documentary you have been filming, you gained access to the proud boys and their leader, enrique tarrio.
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your crew filmed them in washington, d.c., on the evening of january 5th and then on january 6th. on january 5th, the night before the attack, you were with the head of the proud boys, mr. tarrio, in washington, d.c. what happened? >> we picked up mr. tarrio from jail. he'd been arrested for carrying some magazines, some long -- some extra capacity magazines and -- for the -- he took responsibility for the burning of the black lives matter flag that was stolen from the church on december 12th. we were attempting to get an interview with mr. tarrio. we had no idea of any of the events that were going to subsequently happen.
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we drove him to pick up his bags from the property department of the police, which is just south of the mall. we picked up his bags and went to get some other bags from the phoenix hotel where we encountered mr. stewart rhodes from the oath keepers. by the time i'd gone to park the car, my colleague was saying, who'd got into the car with mr. tarrio, that they had moved the parking garage of the hall of legends, i believe. and so we quickly drove over there. we drove down into the parking garage and filmed the scene of mr. tarrio and mr. rhodes and certain other individuals in that garage. we then continued to follow mr. tarrio.
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there was some discussion about where he was going to go. he ended up going towards a hotel in baltimore, and we conducted an interview with him in the hotel room, and then we returned to d.c. for that night. and what was interesting that night, actually, was that was the first indication that d.c. was much more busy than it had been any other time we'd been here, because we couldn't get into the hotels we wanted to. and we ended up at a hotel that, you know, was not as satisfactory as we would have hoped. >> thank you. so, what you're saying is you filmed the meeting between mr. tarrio and oath keepers leader stewart rhodes, right? >> indeed. >> you couldn't hear what was said, but according to t justice department indictment of
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mr. tarrio, a participant referenced the capitol. now, on the morning of january 6th, you learned the proud boys would gather near the rally ta white house. what time did you meet up with the proud boys, and what was happening when they met? >> we met up with the proud boys somewhere around 10:30 a.m., and they were starting to walk down the mile, easterly direction towards the capitol. there was a large contingent, more than i had expected, and i was confused to a certain extent why we were walking away from the president's speech, because that's what i felt we were there to cover. >> so, at 10:30 a.m., that's early in the day. that's even before the president trump had started speaking, am i correct? >> yes, sir.
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>> so, how many proud boys would you estimate were marching together to the capitol? >> a couple of hundred. potentially -- yeah. i say a couple of hundred proud boys were marching toward the capitol at that point. >> at the time, was the area heavily guarded? >> no. that was -- we -- i remember we walked past the -- we walked down the mile, we walked to the right of the reflecting pool and then north along the road that leads to the peace circle. and as we were walking past the peace circle, i framed the proud boys to the right of my shot with the capitol behind, and we see one sole police officer at the barriers, which subsequently breached. we then walk up and past a tactical unit preparing, and you see that in the film, where the man questions their duty and
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their honor, and you see maybe a dozen capitol police putting on their riot gear. >> so, how would you describe the atmosphere at that time? >> the atmosphere was, it seemed to be much darker. i make efforts to create familiarity between myself and my subjects, to make them feel comfortable, and the atmosphere was much darker than -- this day than had been in these other days, and there was also a contingent of proud boys that hadn't met before from arizona orange hats and had orange arm bands. to gather? >> well, no, first of all, we
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f the capitol. and then we went for l we went for tacos. >> so, mr. quested, you're a journalist. so, you're careful to stick to things that you have observed. but what you have told us is highly relevant. let me highlight a few key facts that you and others have provided the committee. first, there was a large group of proud boys present at the capitol. we know that from multiple sources. you now estimate there were around 250 to 300 individuals that you have testified. they weren't there for president trump's speech. we know this because they left that area to march toward the capitol before the speech began. they walked around the capitol that morning. i'm concerned this allowed them
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to see what defenses were in place and where weaknesses might be. and they decided to launch their attack at the peace circle, which is a front door of the capitol complex. it's the first security perimeter that those marching from the ellipse would have to come to as they moved toward the capitol. the peace circle walk away was -- walkway was always where the thousands of angry trump supporters would arrive after president trump sent them from the ellipse. the proud boys timed their attack to the moments before the start of the joint session in the capitol, which is also where president trump directed the angry mob, "we fight like hell." he told them before sending them
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down pennsylvania avenue, right to where the proud boys gathered, and where you were filming. now, central question is whether the attack on the capitol was coordinated and planned. what you witnessed is what a coordinated and planned effort would look like. it was the culmination of a months-long effort spearheaded by president trump. mr. quested, thank you for your eye-witness account of the lead-up to the breach of the peace circle. this brings us to a point in time where you and officer edwards were in close proximity. at this point, i reserve the balance of my time pursuant to 5c, section 8 of house resolution 503. the chair recognizes gentlewoman from wyoming, ms. cheney, for questioning. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. officer edwards, i want to start
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by thanking you for your service and thank you for your courage. thank you for being here this evening. i know that it's not easy to relive what happened for you and for the officers behind you and for the family members of the officers in the audience this evening. but it's really important for the country to have a full accounting and understand what happened. i want to start, officer edwards, with a short clip that shows the horrible moment when you were injured as the peace circle was breached. >> usa, usa, usa! >> get off. >> usa, usa, usa!
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>> move, move. >> officer edwards, can you describe the crowd that had assembled at the peace circle as you and your fellow officers stood behind and guarded the bike racks at the peace circle? >> yes, so, there were about, i want to say, about five of us on that line, and there were -- so there was our bike rack and then at the bottom of the pennsylvania avenue walkway or right by peace circle, there was another bike rack, and so the crowd had kind of gathered there. it was the crowd led by joseph biggs, and they were mostly in civilian clothes. there were some who had military fatigues on. we could see people with bulletproof vests on, you know, things like that.
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they didn't seem, you know, extremely cohesive, but they had gathered there in their outfits, but they had gathered there together, and joseph biggs started -- he had a megaphone, and he started talking about, you know, first, it was things kind of relating to congress, and then the tables started turning once the -- what is now the arizona group is what he said, the crowd with orange hats, they came up chanting, f-u-c-k antifa and they joined that group and once they joined that group, joseph biggs's rhetoric turned to the capitol police.
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he started asking us questions like, you've -- you didn't miss a paycheck during the pandemic. mentioning stuff about our pay scale was mentioned. and you know, started turning the tables on us, and i've worked -- i can, you know, conservatively say probably hundreds of civil disturbance events. i know when i'm being turned into a villain, and that's when i turned to my sergeant and i stated the understatement of the century. i said, sarge, i think we're going to need a few more people down here. and so after that, you know, i think they started conferring. they went a little silent. they started conferring among each other.
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i saw the person now identified as ryan. he put his arm around joseph biggs and they were talking and then they started approaching the first barricade. they ripped the first barricade down, and they approached our bike racks. you know, at that time, we started holding on, grabbing the bike rack. there weren't many of us, so i grabbed the middle between two different bike racks, and you know, i wasn't under any pretense that i could hold it for very long, but i just wanted to make sure that we could get more people down and get our cdu units time to answer the call, so we started grappling over the bike racks.
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i felt the bike rack come on top of my head, and i was pushed backwards, and my foot caught the stair behind me, and i -- my chin hit the handrail and then i -- at that point, i had blacked out, but my -- the back of my head clipped the concrete stairs behind me. >> and you were knocked unconscious, is that right, officer edwards? >> yes, ma'am. >> but then when you regained consciousness, even with the injuries, you returned to duty, is that right? >> yes, ma'am. you know, at that time, adrenaline kicked in. i ran towards the west front, and i tried to hold the line at the senate steps, at the lower west terrace. more people kept coming at us. it just seemed like, you know,
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more and more people started coming on to the west front. they started overpowering us. and that was right about when mpd's officers showed up. their bike officers pushed the crowd back, and allowed our cdu units as well as theirs to form that line that you see, that very thin line between us and the protesters or the rioters. i fell behind that line and for a while, i started decontaminating people who had gotten sprayed, and treating people medically who needed it. >> and then you were injured again there on the west terrace, is that right, officer edwards?
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>> yes, ma'am. so, after a while, i got back on the line. i got -- it was on the house side of the lower west terrace. and i was holding that line for a while. there weren't many of us over there. and officer sicknick was behind me for most of the time, for about 30 to 45 minutes that i was down there. we were just, as the best we could, we were just, you know, grappling over bike racks and trying to hold them as quick as possible. all of a sudden, i see movement to the left of me, and i turned, and it was officer sicknick with his head in his hands.
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and he was ghostly pale, which i figured at that point that he had been sprayed and i was concerned. my cop alarm bells went off because if you get sprayed with pepper spray, you're going to turn red. he turned just about as pale as this sheet of paper. and so, i looked back to see what had hit him, what had happened, and that's when i got sprayed in the eyes as well. i was taken to be decontaminated by another officer, but we didn't get the chance because we were then tear gassed. >> and we are going to play just a brief clip of that moment that you have just described, officer
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edwards. >> officer edwards, i just want to thank you for being here, and i know, again, how difficult it is. i know the family of officer sicknick as well, who's here tonight, and one of the things one of the capitol police officers said to me recently was, to ask me whether or not, as members of congress, all of us understood that on that dayue led to a safe, undisclosed location, whether we knew that so many of you had rushed out of the building and into the fight. and i can assure you that we do know that, and that we
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understand how important your service is. thank you for your continued work with our committee and the interviews, and thank you very much for both of you for being here this evening. mr. chairman, i yield back. >> thank you very much. ms. edwards, can you give us one memory of that awful day that stands out most vividly in your mind? >> i can. that time when i talked about falling behind mpd's line. i remember, because i had been kind of shielded away because i was holding those stairs, so i wasn't able to really see what
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was going on over here. when i fell behind that line, and i saw -- i can just remember my breath catching in my throat because what i saw was just a war it was something like i had seen out of the movies. i couldn't believe my eyes. there were officers on the ground, you know, they were bleeding. they were throwing up. they were -- you know, they had -- i mean, i saw friends with blood all over their faces. i was slipping in people's blood. i was catching people as they fell.
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i was -- it was carnage. it was chaos. i can't even describe what i saw. never in my wildest dreams did i think that as a police officer, as a law enforcement officer, i would find myself in the middle of a battle. of subjects and handle a crowd, but i'm combat trained. and that day, it was just hours of hand-to-hand combat, hours of dealing with things that were way beyond any law enforcement officer has ever trained for. and i just remember that moment of stepping behind the line and just seeing the absolute war zone that the west front had
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become. >> let me thank you for your service and obviously your bravery that you have told the world about tonight. it's unfortunate that you had to defend the capitol from fellow americans. none of us will ever think that that would have to happen, but it did. so, let me thank our witnesses for joining us tonight and sharing their experiences with america. throughout my chairmanship of this committee, i've continuously vowed that this committee will ensure a comprehensive account of the heroic acts on january 6th, and that we will follow the facts your testimony is an essential
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mr. quested, thank you for account of the day's events with us. shared with the committee do a better job than any of our words in reinforcing the violence of january 6th. we hope that the power of your footage helped encourage all americans to consider how citizens with so much in common could viciously brawl at the seat of their democratic government. officer edwards, thank you for your brave service, as i indicated, on january 6th and all you did to protect us and most importantly our democracy. if you and your fellow officers hadn't held the line against those violent insurrectionists, we can only imagine the disaster
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that would have ensued. your heroism in the face of danger is admirable, and your will to continue to protect and serve, despite your serious injuries, should be an inspiration to all of us. we wish you a continued recovery and look forward to seeing you back in uniform sometime soon. the members of the select committee may have additional questions for tonight's witnesses, and we ask that you respond expeditiously in writing to those questions. without objections, members will be permitted ten business days to submit statements for the record, including opening remarks and additional questions for the witnesses. the witnesses have just told us what they heard the rioters saying, why they stormed the capitol on that day. now we're going to hear it from
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the rioters themselves. without objection, i include in the record a video presentation. >> we were invited by the president of the united states. >> what really made me want to come was the fact that, you know, i had supported trump all that time. i did believe that the election was being stolen. and trump asked us to come. >> he personally asked for us to come to d.c. that day. and i thought, for everything he's done for us, if this is the only thing he's going to ask of me, i'll do it. >> we're going to walk down to the capitol. >> do you recall president trump mentioning going to the capitol during his speech? >> oh, yeah. that's one of my disappointments. he said he was going to go, go with us, that he was going to be there. >> i know why i was there, and that's because he called me there, and he laid out what is
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happening in our government. he laid it out. >> but i remember donald trump telling people to be there. i mean, to support. >> you mentioned that the president asked you. do you remember a specific message? >> basically, yeah. he asked for us to come to d.c. big things are going to happen. >> what got me impressed, he said i have something very important to say on january 6th or something like that. what got me interested to be there. >> you know, trump has only asked me for two thing. he asked me for my vote and he asked me to come on january 6th. >> when the committee reconvenes next week, we're going to examine the lies that convinced those 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
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attack on the rule of law. when he hit the fuse that ultimately resulted in the violence of january 6th. without objection, and with that, the committee stands adjourned. >> so, two live witnesses at this first of seven extraordinary kind of hearings that we'll be seeing in this month. we heard from a former or a member, actually, of the capitol police department describe what she called carnage and chaos. we also heard in this second part of tonight's presentation from a documentary filmmaker who had some access to the proud boys. all this color, though, that leads to the central theme of what this committee seems to be trying to point out and prove is that donald trump was part of a seven-point plan to overturn the results of the election and prevent a transfer of power. i want to go inside now, inside
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that hearing room, nbc news senior capitol hill correspondent garrett haake is actually outside the room. what can you tell us about what's happening? >> lester, i have no idea how this will play in the rest of the country, but in that hearing room, the video that was shown and the testimony of officer edwards hit like a sledgehammer. you have to remember this is a community of hundreds, in fact, thousands of people on capitol hill who lived through january 6th together. many people, including lawmakers who were in the gallery on that day, are here in the hearing room, watching and listening. after the video was played, they were coming out in tears, too emotional to speak, hugging each other. you're even seeing some of it now with officer edwards and the other police officers who sat behind her for her remarks, many of whom have testified themselves, forming kind of this fraternity of people who have been through this, and so the video had incredible emotional resonance in the room.
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so too the testimony of officer edwards. i think that's the kind of thing the committee was hoping would also speak to the american people, but for the community on capitol hill, that's what we went through, and that's what the committee wants the rest of the country to understand about that day. >> yeah. garrett, thank you. nbc news political director and moderator of "meet the press," chuck todd is here. chuck, many will look at this who understand the gravity of what happened on that day, but wonder what is the point. >> look, it's important to have a complete record. i think for the history books, number one. but this is -- this is the investigation we didn't get to have in the second impeachment. you know, it was rushed for reasons that were, at the time, i think, you know, we could have a debate about whether they should have immediately begun the impeachment proceedings, before january 20th, or if they were going to wait, then give it a few months and do a more
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complete investigation. because i keep coming back to this, lester. this is the single most -- this is -- we have had the mueller report and two impeachments, and you have this. four very compelling investigations into wrongdoing by president trump. this one truly has the receipts. this connects the dots. and i tell you this, there's basically, i think, they've laid out two separate conspiracies. conspiracy one was the one -- the lead-up, all of the attempts to overturn the election. and then conspiracy two that i think was laid out pretty compellingly, was the oath keepers and the proud boys doing what they were doing here to essentially take matters into their own hands if necessary, if plan a didn't work here. i've been waiting to see how much they can connect the president to that second part, to the attack on the capitol. and we got a very compelling piece of video there at the end, almost like a trailer, about where they're going, which is, every one of these folks who have pled guilty, who have
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been -- who have been forced to testify, they all seem to be saying the same thing. i was there because donald trump asked me to. it was quite compelling. >> chuck, thank you. kristen welker is nbc's chief white house correspondent. kristen, let's talk about the reaction from republicans so far. in many ways, this hearing was prebutted. >> that's absolutely right, lester. we're getting a range of reaction from republicans who are some dismissing the hearing outright, others trying to refocus the attention on the economy. let me read you a few. jim jordan, the congressman, saying, where's the primetime hearing on president biden's botched afghanistan withdrawal? representative elise stefanik saying nancy pelosi select committee is a political witch hunt. we heard from former president trump before this hearing got under way. he wrote, this is a political hoax to counter inflation. and then senator bill haggerty says for the first time in history, every single state has hit its highest gas prices ever recorded. that may be the most significant reaction, lester, because it
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underscores the strategy that we can expect to see from republicans heading into the midterms, really trying to turn the page from these hearings and refocus it on to the top issue for americans, soaring inflation, record high gas prices. for his part, we haven't heard a reaction yet from president biden. he is traveling in california, diplomatic summit there, but we are told that he will be watching bits and pieces of this hearing throughout the evening. i've been talking to democrats who are close to the white house who have signalled they are not going to shy away from trying to link trump-backed candidates to january 6th, to the horror that unfolded on that day with the midterms looming large. the question is, will these hearings have an impact on the all-important midterm elections? it is not clear. it could have an impact around the edges, some of those very close races, lester, but look, we are looking at new video, new testimony, and that certainly is significant. >> yeah, kristen, thank you, and both law and politics as you note are at play in these
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hearings. so i want to bring in our nbc


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