Washington — The House Jan. 6 committee is holding its seventh public hearing, this time focused on the mobilization of the mob at the U.S. Capitol and the links between extremists and former President Donald Trump.
Committee chair Rep. Bennie Thompson said in his opening statement that Trump “summoned a mob to Washington, D.C.” on Jan. 6 in a “last-ditch effort” to overturn the election results.
Committee member Rep. Jamie Raskin, who is leading Tuesday’s hearing, said that Trump sent a tweet at 1:42 a.m. on Dec. 19, 2020, after a meeting with Rudy Giuliani and others. “Big protest in D.C. on January 6th,” Trump tweeted. “Be there, will be wild!”
Raskin said this tweet “electrified” Trump’s extremist supporters to come to the Capitol on Jan. 6. “Many members of this crowd could be led to storm the Capitol, confront the vice president and Congress and overturn the election results,” Raskin said.
While aides said the committee would not disclose who would be appearing in person due to concerns about security and potential harassment, two sources familiar with the panel’s plans told CBS News that one of the witnesses is Jason Van Tatenhove, the former national media director for the Oath Keepers. One source confirmed the second witness is Stephen Ayres, an Ohio man who was among the mob of Trump’s supporters who converged on the Capitol building near the U.S. Senate. He pleaded guilty to a charge of disorderly conduct last month.
Both Van Tatenhove and Ayres have arrived at the hearing room.
Committee vice chair Rep. Liz Cheney said in her opening statement that there will also be excerpts from Trump White House counsel Pat Cipollone, who testified before the committee last week.
The House Jan. 6 committee has held seven public hearings in June and July to showcase the evidence they have gathered during the 11-month investigation. The committee has heard hundreds of hours of testimony, including from some of the core members of Trump’s inner circle.
In addition to the information on pressure campaigns, the committee has also unveiled new details on the scheme allegedly proposed by Trump allies to put forward phony electors from several battleground states that President Biden won.
On June 28, Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows, testified publicly in a hastily added hearing. Her blockbuster testimony included that Trump was told the crowd at the Ellipse on Jan. 6 had guns and other weapons, and that the former president wanted to join them on the way to the Capitol. She also said she was told that Trump lunged towards a Secret Service agent in a presidential vehicle.
Hutchinson also testified that Meadows told her in the days leading up to Jan. 6 that, “There’s a lot going on Cass, but I don’t know, things might get real, real bad on Jan. 6.”
This weekend, attorneys for Trump ally Steve Bannon, who has been charged by the Justice Department for refusing to comply with a subpoena to testify, sent a letter to the committee saying he is willing to testify publicly.
Bannon has cited executive privilege in his refusal to testify, but Trump sent a letter to Bannon’s lawyers waiving executive privilege. Mr. Biden has rejected Trump’s claims of executive privilege, and the Supreme Court in January declined a request from the former president to shield a trove of his White House records, over which he initially asserted executive privilege.
The Justice Department on Monday questioned Bannon’s newfound willingness to testify, noting his about-face comes at the “eleventh hour,” as his contempt trial is set to begin July 18, and “is not a genuine effort to meet his obligations but a last-ditch attempt to avoid accountability.”