The committee looking into the Jan. 6 Capitol attack held its seventh public hearing on Tuesday, focusing on the role right-wing extremist groups like the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers played in planning the deadly siege.
The committee linked these groups to the effort to overturn the 2020 election, claiming that a tweet from former President Donald Trump prompted some of those groups to organize around Jan. 6, 2021.
Throughout the hearing, this story was updated.
To review the committee’s case detailing the mobilization of extremist groups following then-President Trump’s tweet on Jan. 6 calling for supporters to protest in D.C., click here.
5:22 p.m. ET Update
Twitter responds: On January 6, Twitter responded to claims made during the hearing that the platform was used by the former president to rally extremist groups.
“We are clear-eyed about our role in the broader information ecosystem about the January 6th attack on the US Capitol, and while we continue to examine how we can improve moving forward,” a Twitter spokesperson said in a statement.
Twitter banned the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers groups in 2018 and 2020, respectively, and Proud Boys Chairman Enrique Tarrio had already been permanently suspended long before the insurgency.
The company claims that it monitored activity from both the former president and his followers in the days leading up to the events, including blocking the use of the hashtag #StopTheSteal.
In the absence of law enforcement reporting that provides broader context, the spokesperson noted that determining how vague phrases may be interpreted can be difficult.
4:24 p.m. ET Update
The damage done on January 6th remains: Rep. Jamie Raskin, a committee member, emphasized that an insurgency is a very real event with tangible and life-changing consequences. On Jan. 6, hundreds of people were injured, including more than 150 police officers, some of whom testified at the committee’s first hearing last year and have attended the majority of this year’s.
Sgt. Aquilino Gonell, an Army veteran who served a year in combat in Iraq and 16 years on the Capitol police force, is one of them. Gonnell told the committee last year that nothing he had experienced in combat could have prepared him for what he faced on Jan. 6.
Gosnell was severely injured in the attack. Raskin was beaten, punched, bushed, kicked, stomped on, and sprayed with chemical irritants, according to his account.
In an NPR interview on the first anniversary of the riot, Gonnell described his lingering physical and psychological wounds. He returned to work in an administrative position after ten months because he still couldn’t raise his left arm, and he has been in therapy for his mental health.
Gonell stated during the committee’s first hearing on July 27, 2021, that he had suffered injuries to both of his hands, his left shoulder, his left calf, and his right foot. He had bone fusion surgery on his right foot and had only recently learned that he needed surgery on his left shoulder.
“I’ve been on medical and administrative leave for the majority of the last six months, and I expect to require additional rehabilitation for possibly more than a year,” he explained.
Raskin provided an update on Tuesday: On June 28, Gosnell’s medical team informed him that the permanent injuries to his left shoulder and right foot would make it impossible for him to continue working as a cop.
“Sgt. Gonell, we wish you and your family the best, we are here for you, we salute you for your valor, eloquence, and beautiful commitment to America,” Raskin said, clearly moved. He then added:
“I’m curious what former President Trump would say to someone like Sgt. Gonell, who is now trying to rebuild his life. I’m not sure he understands what drives a patriot like Sgt. Gonell.”
4:45 p.m. ET Update
Trump attempted to call a committee witness, according to Cheney: Following the last hearing on June 28 with Cassidy Hutchinson, President Trump attempted to call a witness in the Jan. 6 investigation, House Jan. 6 committee Vice-Chair Liz Cheney said in her closing statement.
Cheney stated that it was a witness who had yet to appear in the hearings and that he did not take the call but did notify their lawyer, who informed the committee. Cheney stated that the information was provided to the Justice Department by the committee.
“Any attempt to influence witness testimony will be taken very seriously,” she said.
3:46 p.m. ET Update
Trump’s former campaign manager blamed his remarks on the president: According to copies of texts he exchanged with rally organizer Katrina Pierson on the evening of Jan. 6, Trump’s speech at the ellipse had an impact on his former campaign manager Brad Parscale.
He described the situation as “a sitting president inviting civil war,” adding, “This week I feel guilty for assisting him in winning” in 2016.
Pierson responded by saying he did what he thought was right at the time, to which Parscale responded, “Yeah. However, a woman has died.”
“If I were Trump and knew my rhetoric had killed someone,” he wrote later. Pierson responded that it was not because of the rhetoric.
He texted, “Katrina.” “Of course it was.”
3:42 p.m. ET Update:
Trump’s last-minute speech changes heightened tensions: Based on documents from the National Archives and witness testimony, the committee reconstructed how Trump edited his Ellipse speech until the last minute and then went off-script.
According to Rep. Stephanie Murphy, Trump changed the script the night before and the morning of Jan. 6. One of his first modifications was to insert the lines “All of us… here today do not want to see our election victory stolen by emboldened radical left Democrats,” and “All of us… here today do not want to see our election victory stolen by emboldened radical left Democrats.” Our country has had enough, and we will not accept it any longer.”
The next morning, he spent nearly 30 minutes with chief speechwriter Stephen Miller, after which he inserted the following line: “We’ll see if Mike Pence goes down in history as a truly great and courageous leader. All he has to do is return the illegally submitted electoral votes to the states that were provided with false and fraudulent information and want to recertify.”
After then-Trump senior adviser, Eric Herschmann and others objected, speechwriters, removed the line. Later that morning, however, after the famously tense phone call in which Trump pressed Pence not to certify the election results — and erupted in anger when Pence refused — speechwriters were told to “reinsert the Mike Pence lines,” Murphy said.
Trump changed his speech while delivering it, improvising references to fighting and the need for people to be brave and strong. The word “peacefully” appeared in the written version and was used only once, according to Murphy, who added that this rhetoric heightened tensions and riled up supporters even more.
“In the speech, a single scripted reference to Mike Pence became eight, and a single scripted reference to rally-goers marching to the Capitol became four, with President Trump ad-libbing that he would be joining the protesters at the Capitol.”
3:00 p.m. ET Update:
Trump’s decision to call for the march to the Capitol was a surprise: Rep. Stephanie Murphy expanded on the committee’s case, demonstrating that Trump and some White House officials were aware of the possibility of violence on Jan. 6 but did not attempt to cancel or modify their plans.
Katrina Pierson, a former Trump campaign spokesperson and organizer of the Jan. 6 rally, testified. She became increasingly concerned when she discovered that the proposed speaker lineup included far-right activists such as Roger Stone, Infowars founder Alex Jones, and “Stop the Steal” founder Ali Alexander.
On Jan. 2, she wrote to Meadows, saying, “Things have gotten crazy, and I desperately need some direction.” Meadows called her eight minutes later, according to phone records. Pierson recalled telling Meadows about her concerns, mentioning Jones and Alexander’s heated rhetoric in particular and noting that they had already entered the Georgia state capitol to protest the 2020 election results.
Despite these reservations, White House officials and rally organizers did not alter their plans or attempt to cool things down among Trump supporters. Murphy presented evidence that Trump had decided to call on protesters to march to the Capitol, but had delayed announcing it until his speech on the morning of January 6.
In an email, Pierson stated that Trump intended to hold an “intimate” rally at the Ellipse before calling on everyone to march to the Capitol. The committee also obtained access to a draught tweet instructing people to arrive early and march to the Capitol, which the president saw but did not send. It also showed texts from two rally participants to others, in which they stated that there were plans to order protesters to march to the Capitol, but that they had to be kept under wraps.
The committee saw an undated draught tweet from Trump that went unsent in which he publicly stated that there would be a march to the Capitol, as well as a text message from rally organizer Kylie Kramer on Jan. 4 in which she told My Pillow CEO and election conspiracy theorist Mike Lindell that Trump would “call for it unexpectedly” but that they didn’t want word to get out so there wouldn’t be a counter march. A text message from rally organizer Ali Alexander to a conservative journalist on Jan. 5 stated that Trump intended to call on supporters to march to the Capitol.
Trump’s speech, according to Murphy, was “not a spontaneous call to action, but a deliberate strategy decided upon in advance by the president.”
3:17 p.m. ET Update:
House Republicans who met with Trump include: Rep. Stephanie Murphy stated that the Trump administration collaborated closely with a group of members of Congress to challenge the 2020 election results and “encourage members of the public to fight the outcome on Jan. 6.”
The committee obtained the former president’s schedule, which shows a private meeting with members on December 21. Members present for that meeting included Republican Reps. Brian Babin of Texas, Andy Bigg of Arizona, Matt Gaetz of Florida, Louie Gohmert of Texas, Paul Gosar of Arizona, Andy Harris of Maryland, Jody Hice of Georgia, Jim Jordan of Ohio, Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, and Republican Rep.-elect Marjorie Taylor Green of Georgia, according to White House visitor logs obtained by the committee.
Murphy stated that one point of contention was the role of the vice president in the certification of votes.
3:03 p.m. ET Update:
The coordination of extremist groups raised red flags: The Jan. 6 committee presented evidence of coordination in the lead-up to the Capitol attack among far-right groups whose leaders have been charged with seditious conspiracy, the organizer of President Trump’s “stop the steal” rally on Jan. 6, 2021, and outside Trump allies.
Kelly Meggs, the head of the Florida Oath Keepers, posted a Facebook message hours after former Trump sent a tweet summoning supporters to Washington for Jan. 6, 2020, stating that his group would “work together” with the Three-Percenters and Proud Boys, two other right-wing extremist groups.
Meggs called Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio for several minutes on December 19, according to Rep. Jamie Raskin.
Raskin displayed messages from an encrypted chat he claimed the Proud Boys launched on December 20 with operational details for the Jan. 6 planning.
Six days before former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn attended an Oval Office meeting aimed at overturning the election, he was photographed outside the Capitol with key members of the Oath Keepers.
The committee revealed an encrypted chat called F.O.S. (Friends of Roger Stone) in which Tarrio, Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes, and Ali Alexander, organizer of Trump’s Stop the Steal rally at the Ellipse, were all participants. According to a former Oath Keepers lawyer, the three were at the forefront of organizing post-election protests in Washington.
Former D.C. homeland security chief Donell Harvin stated that his agency had intelligence of operational coordination among violent individuals planning to visit the city on January 6.
“Everything went red,” he said.
2:46 p.m. ET Update:
Two witnesses take the stand for live testimony: Stephen Ayres, who faced multiple charges for his actions on January 6, 2021, and pleaded guilty to one count of disorderly and disruptive conduct, has taken his seat to testify at today’s hearing, alongside former Oath Keepers spokesman Jason Van Tatenhove. For security and to avoid intimidation, the committee did not reveal the identity of witnesses in advance.
Van Tatenhove joined the company in 2014 and stayed for about two years. He was “only an employee,” not a member of the group, and “purged my life of that world years ago,” he told Denver’s KDVR TV.
According to federal investigators, Ayres, 38, of Champion, Ohio, and two unidentified friends filmed a video in their hotel room to “share what happened” at the Capitol and posted it to YouTube after the riot. According to an FBI affidavit, Ayres’ male friend claimed that “Antifa breached” the Capitol and that police “escorted” them into the building at some point during the video. According to the FBI report, Ayers agreed that the entire incident was “definitely planned out.”
Ayres pled guilty to one count of disorderly and disruptive behavior in a restricted building or grounds. Sentencing is scheduled for September 13.
2:33 p.m. ET Update:
The right-wing media incited a “wild” protest: The former president tweeted on December 19th “It is statistically impossible to lose the 2020 election. On January 6th, there will be a large protest in Washington, D.C. Be there, it’s going to be wild!”
This tweet and its message spread across right-wing media platforms, from print to broadcast, according to Rep. Jamie Raskin.
In a video, far-right radio host Alex Jones said, “He is now calling for we the people to take action and show our numbers.” “The time for games has passed. The time for action has arrived.”
“We will only be saved by millions of Americans moving to Washington, occupying the entire area, and, if necessary, storming into the Capitol,” a right-wing commentator told viewers.
Raskin said a pro-Trump YouTuber said Jan. 6 would be a “red wedding,” a reference to “mass slaughter.”
An anonymous former Twitter employee told the committee that they and other Twitter employees were concerned about Trump’s use of the social media platform to directly communicate with right-wing extremist groups.
“If former President Donald Trump had been any other user, he would have been permanently suspended a long time ago,” said the employee.
2:21 p.m. ET Update:
An ‘unhinged’ White House meeting: Rep. Jamie Raskin detailed the details of an unplanned, contentious meeting on December 18 that began in the Oval Office and ended in the president’s private residence six hours later.
According to him, attorney Sidney Powell, former national security adviser Michael Flynn, and former Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne arrived at the White House, gained access from a junior staffer, and made their way to the Oval Office, where they were able to speak with the president alone for more than 10 minutes before White House officials learned of the gathering and stormed into the room.
“What ensued was a heated and profane clash between this group and President Trump’s White House advisers, who traded personal insults, accusations of disloyalty to the president, and even physical challenges,” Raskin said, adding that the meeting was best described by those who were in the room — as well as those outside who could hear the shouting coming from inside.
Outside advisers met with Trump for 10 to 15 minutes before attempting to intervene, as Powell put it, “I bet Pat Cipollone set a new land speed record.” Cipollone testified that he didn’t think they were giving good advice to the president and wasn’t sure how they got into the building (he recalled asking the “Overstock person” “Who are you?”
Flynn, according to former White House lawyer Eric Herschmann, brought diagrams to demonstrate a conspiracy theory involving Venezuela and communication via internet-connected thermostats. He recalled siding with Cipollone against the outside advisers, repeatedly asking them for evidence to back up their claims and testifying that they demonstrated “a general disregard for the importance of backing up what you say with facts.”
The rhetoric and volume grew louder. Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s attorney, recalled telling White House officials that they weren’t tough enough, using a derogatory term. After the meeting ended around midnight, Cassidy Hutchinson, a Meadows aide who testified at the most recent hearing, texted that “the West Wing is UNHINGED,” and took a picture of Meadows escorting Giuliani off the grounds.
In the hours following this meeting, Trump tweeted that his supporters should come to Washington on January 6, saying, “Be there, will be wild!”
1:54 p.m. ET Update:
Former White House Counsel Pat Cipollone told the committee that he was “vehemently opposed” to the potential appointment of Sidney Powell as special counsel to oversee the seizure of voting machines and potential criminal charges as part of a plan to overturn the election results.
“To have voting machines seized by the federal government? That is a bad idea for the country “Cipollone stated during his taped interview that there is already a well-established method for contesting elections.
“I don’t understand why we even have to tell you why that’s a terrible idea for the country.”
1:44 p.m. ET Update:
Top White House officials were prepared to concede: According to new video testimony released on Tuesday, those closest to Trump in the White House considered the 2020 election over – and lost – by mid-December.
Dozens of lawsuits had failed to uncover evidence of widespread voter fraud that could have influenced the outcome by the time the Electoral College formally voted in favor of Biden on December 14, 2020. The next day, Republican Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader at the time, congratulated Biden on his election as president-elect and declared that “the Electoral College has spoken.”
Cipollone stated in his testimony on Friday, which was played at Tuesday’s hearing, that he also believed at the time that there was no evidence of widespread fraud and that Trump should have conceded the election, saying, “That would be in line with my thinking on these things.”
He also claimed that then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows shared his opinion, adding that he heard him express it around the same time and not as a one-time statement.
1:44 p.m. ET Update:
A preview of future hearings: In his opening remarks, Cheney stated that former White House Counsel Pat Cipollone’s testimony to the committee last week “met expectations.”
According to Cheney, the next hearing will focus on Trump’s behavior during the Jan. 6 violence. According to committee aides, the hearing is expected to take place next week.
However, Cipollone’s testimony will not be saved for that hearing; instead, excerpts from his interview will be broadcast today.
1:32 p.m. ET Update:
Cheney begins: In her opening remarks, Committee Vice-Chair Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo, stated that the strategy for defending Trump among his supporters has changed throughout the seven hearings.
“The argument now appears to be that President Trump was manipulated by others outside the administration,” Cheney explained. “President Trump is 76 years old. He is not a vulnerable child.”
Cheney recapped Trump’s claim that he was shown evidence that the election was not rigged and debunked voter fraud conspiracy theories.
The vice-chair stated that viewers will see committee evidence that Trump’s legal team knew they lacked during this hearing “actual evidence sufficient to prove election fraud They did, however, proceed by January 6th “Second, Trump deceived Americans across the country who did not have access to the same data as he did.
Originally published at 5 a.m. ET:
The House Committee on the 6th of January will hold its seventh hearing on its months-long investigation Tuesday, focusing on the involvement of extremist groups such as the Oath Keepers, Proud Boys, and the QAnon movement, as well as the groups’ possible ties to Trump associates such as Roger Stone and Michael Flynn.
Jason Van Tatenhove, a former Oath Keepers spokesman, will testify. Van Tatenhove left the organization before the Capitol insurgency and will appear as a witness to provide historical context for the group.
Check back here for live updates throughout the hearing on Tuesday, and watch the Livestream starting at 1 p.m. ET:
The hearing will also look into a tweet sent by former President Donald Trump on December 19th, which stated: “On January 6, there will be large protests in Washington, D.C. Be present. It’s going to be wild!” According to a committee aide, the tweet was “a pivotal moment that triggered a chain of events, including pre-planning by the Proud Boys.”
Reps. Stephanie Murphy and Jamie Raskin will chair the hearing on Tuesday.
Aside from Van Tatenhove, committee aides declined to comment on other witnesses or the number of witnesses who will appear, citing security and harassment concerns.
“We’ll give the American public a more complete understanding of President Trump and his supporters’ use of radical measures to prevent the peaceful transfer of power and overturn the 2020 election,” a committee aide told reporters, adding that there will also be a focus on members of Congress putting pressure on the vice president not to certify the election.
Members of the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers have been charged in connection with the Jan. 6 attack.
Since its first hearing on the investigation last month, the panel has pointed to the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers’ involvement on Jan. 6.
“In our upcoming hearings, we will show specifically how a group of Proud Boys led a mob into the Capitol building on January 6,” said committee Vice-Chair Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., during opening remarks.
Van Tatenhove, the former Oath Keepers spokesman who testified Tuesday, began working for the organization in 2014 and stayed for about two years. He was “only an employee,” not a member of the group, and “purged my life of that world years ago,” he told Denver television station KDVR in an interview that aired Monday on CNN.
Over the past year, members of the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers have faced charges in connection with the Jan. 6 attack, and federal prosecutors have recently claimed that an Oath Keeper member brought explosives into D.C. on that day.
Nick Quested, a documentary filmmaker who followed the Proud Boys in the days leading up to the insurgency, testified at the first-panel hearing. During the hearing, the committee interviewed members of the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, who said they went to the Capitol that day because they thought Trump had asked them to.
When the panel last met, Cheney, stated that the Trump White House had received information about planned demonstrations for Jan. 6, which included the Proud Boys organizing and planning to attend related events on that day.
According to committee reports, the warnings included details about the events, such as “unlike previous post-election protests, the targets of the pro-Trump supporters are not necessarily the counter-protesters as they were previously, but Congress itself if the target on the 6th.”
Former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson testified at the hearing that she heard the words “Proud Boys” and “Oath Keepers” more frequently in the days leading up to Jan. 6, and that intelligence reports warned of the possibility of violence that week. Some of the reports listed events like “Fight for Trump,” which described the “need to flood” the Capitol and “show America, and the senators and representatives inside voting, that we won’t stand for election fraud!”
Here are some names you should be familiar with.
According to committee aides, the hearing will specifically address the extremist groups’ alleged ties to Stone and Flynn.
Stone, a longtime Trump supporter, was charged by the Justice Department in 2020 with witness tampering and lying to Congress in a case stemming from Mueller’s investigation into Russian election meddling in 2016. Later that year, Trump pardoned him.
Trump also pardoned Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser, for crimes related to the Mueller investigation.
Those who have been following the hearings have already heard from Flynn. When asked if the violence on Jan. 6 was legal, he invoked the Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination in a videotaped deposition. Both Stone and Flynn have been mentioned in previous hearings as links between Trump and those outside the White House who want to keep him in power after he loses the 2020 presidential election.
Enrique Tarrio and Stewart Rhodes are two other names that could be mentioned. Tarrio, the Proud Boys’ leader, is one of five people charged with seditious conspiracy in connection with the January 6 incident. He wasn’t at the Capitol that day, but prosecutors claim he assisted in coordinating the efforts. According to NBC, Rhodes, the founder of the Oath Keepers, attempted to contact the White House in the days leading up to Jan. 6.
There will be another hearing.
According to select committee aides, the committee is looking to hold a hearing next week instead of this Thursday evening during prime time. Reps. Elaine Luria and Adam Kinzinger will chair the hearing.
Kinzinger, one of the committee’s two Republicans, told ABC News on Sunday that the hearing would focus on the hours in the middle of the insurgency when Trump appeared to be absent.
The panel had planned to release its final report in September. However, committee aides told reporters that the timeline had shifted due to new information received by the committee. The report is still expected to be released this fall, though no specific date has been set.