Let me begin tonight by wishing Chairman Thompson a rapid recovery from COVID. He has expertly led us through eight hearings so far, and he has brought us to the point we are today.
In our initial hearing, the Chairman and I described what ultimately became Donald Trump’s seven-part plan to overturn the 2020 Presidential election, a plan stretching from before Election Day through January 6th. At the close of today’s hearing, our ninth, we will have addressed each element of that plan. But in the course of these hearings, we have received new evidence; and new witnesses have bravely stepped forward. Efforts to litigate and overcome immunity and executive privilege claims have been successful, and those continue. Doors have opened, new subpoenas have been issued, and the dam has begun to break. And now, even as we conduct our ninth hearing, we have considerably more to do. We have far more evidence to share with the American people, and more to gather. So, our Committee will spend August pursuing emerging information on multiple fronts, before convening further hearings this September.
Today, we know far more about the President’s plans and actions to overturn the election than almost all members of Congress did when President Trump was impeached on January 13, 2021, or when he was tried by the Senate in February of that year. 57 of 100 Senators voted to convict President Trump at that time, and more than 20 others said they were voting against conviction because the President’s term had already expired. At the time, the Republican Leader of the U.S. Senate said this about Donald Trump:
SEN. MITCH McCONNELL (CLIP): A mob was assaulting the Capitol in his name. These criminals were carrying his banners, hanging his flags, and screaming their loyalty to him. It was obvious that only President Trump could end this. He was the only one.
REP. CHENEY: Leader McConnell reached those conclusions based on what he knew then, without any of the much more detailed evidence you will see today.
Lawlessness and violence began at the Capitol on January 6, 2021 before 1 p.m. and continued until well after darkness fell. What exactly was our Commander-in-Chief doing during the hours of violence? Today, we address precisely that issue.
Everything you have heard in these hearings thus far will help you understand President Trump’s motives during the violence. You already know Donald Trump’s goal – to halt or delay Congress’ official proceedings to count certified electoral votes. You know that Donald Trump tried to pressure his Vice President to illegally reject votes and delay the proceedings. You know he tried to convince state officials and state legislatures to flip their electoral votes from Biden to Trump. And you know Donald Trump tried to corrupt our Department of Justice to aid his scheme. But by January 6th, none of that had worked. Only one thing was succeeding on the afternoon of January 6th. Only one thing was achieving President Trump’s goal. The angry armed mob President Trump sent to the Capitol broke through security, invaded the Capitol, and forced the vote counting to stop.
That mob was violent and destructive. And many came armed. As you will hear, Secret Service Agents protecting the Vice President were exceptionally concerned about his safety, and their own. Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy was scared. As were others in Congress, even those who themselves helped to provoke the violence.
And as you will see today, Donald Trump’s own White House Counsel, his own White House staff, members of his own family, all implored him to immediately intervene, to condemn the violence, and instruct his supporters to stand down, leave the Capitol, and disperse. For multiple hours, he would not. Donald Trump would not get on the phone and order the military or law enforcement agencies to help. And, for hours, Donald Trump chose not to answer the pleas from Congress, from his own party, and from all across our nation to do what his oath required. He refused to defend our nation and our Constitution. He refused to do what every American President must.
In the days after January 6th, almost no one of any political party would defend President Trump’s conduct. And no one should do so today.
Thank you, and I now recognize the gentlewoman from Virginia..
"Cheney Opening Remarks At Select Committee’s Eighth Public Hearing." Congresswoman Liz Cheney press release, July 21. https://cheney.house.gov/2022/07/21/cheney-opening-remarks-at-select-committees-eighth-public-hearing.
"THOMPSON, CHENEY, LURIA, & KINZINGER OPENING STATEMENTS AT SELECT COMMITTEE HEARING." Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol press release, July 21, 2022. https://january6th.house.gov/news/press-releases/thompson-cheney-luria-kinzinger-opening-statements-select-committee-hearing.