What we've learned from the House Jan. 6 committee hearingsget the free app
Kathryn Watson, Melissa Quinn, Cailtin Yilek. Stefan Becket and Rebecca Kaplan contributed to this report.
The House Jan. 6 committee held its ninth – and likely final – hearing on Thursday, concluding with a unanimous vote to subpoena former President Donald Trump.
Vice chair Rep. Liz Cheney said the committee had "sufficient evidence" to answer many of the "critical questions" about the attack and to make criminal referrals to the Justice Department. But a "key task" remained: "We must seek the testimony under oath of Jan. 6's central player," she said of Trump.
The former president posted on his social media platform Truth Social "why didn't the Unselect Committee ask me to testify months ago? … Because the Committee is a total 'BUST' that has only served to further divide our Country which, by the way, is doing very badly - A laughing stock all over the World?"
On Friday morning, Trump responded with an angry letter to Chairman Thompson to complain about the committee's work, but he did not mention the subpoena.
Cheney also said the committee had "sufficient information" to "consider criminal referrals for multiple individuals, and to recommend a range of legislative proposals to guard against another Jan. 6."
The committee has sought in its public hearings to connect former President Donald Trump and his allies' efforts to overturn the 2020 election with the mobilization of the mob of his supporters at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
The hearings have featured video and in-person testimony from Trump allies and never-before-seen footage from the riot. Thursday's hearings, unlike the prior ones, did not feature any live witnesses. The prior hearings' witnesses ranged from White House aides such as Cassidy Hutchinson, who gave dramatic behind-the-scenes testimony about the days and hours leading up to the rioting, to Stephen Ayres, a Jan. 6 defendant who pleaded guilty to a disorderly conduct charge stemming from his participation in the riot.
Rep. Bennie Thompson has said that the committee plans to release an interim report in mid-October, with a final report to come before the end of the year, after the midterm elections.
The committee's two Republicans, Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, are both leaving Congress in January. Cheney lost her primary in Wyoming to a Trump-backed challenger, and Kinzinger decided not to run for reelection.
Over the course of the past year, the committee has interviewed over 1,000 people and issued more than 100 subpoenas for testimony and documents. Last week, the committee interviewed conservative activist Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
Here is what we learned at the public hearings:
Oct. 13 public hearing: "We must seek the testimony under oath of Jan. 6's central player"
The committee wrapped up the public hearings with the extraordinary vote to subpoena Trump.
"We have sufficient information to consider criminal referrals for multiple individuals, and to recommend a range of legislative proposals to ward against another Jan. 6," Cheney said. "But a key task remains: we must seek the testimony under oath of Jan. 6's central player."
Cheney highlighted the criminal referrals the committee has issued for refusing to comply with subpoenas to the Justice Department: Trump's White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, chief of staff Mark Meadows and aides Peter Navarro and Dan Scavino. Bannon and Navarro were both charged, and Bannon has since been found guilty and is awaiting sentencing.
The committee also showed never-before-seen footage shot by Alexandra Pelosi, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's daughter, of Pelosi and other Congressional leaders trying to secure the Capitol on Jan. 6. In the footage, Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer and other top officials in Congress are working the phones, contacting Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam and Vice President Mike Pence. Pelosi implored Northam to activate the Virginia National Guard.
Committee member Rep. Jamie Raskin said they "stepped into the giant leadership void created by the president's chilling and studied passivity that day."
Committee member Rep. Adam Kinzinger said Trump rushed to complete "unfinished business" in his last weeks in office, despite publicly insisting he had not lost the election.
"One key example is this: President Trump issued an order for large-scale U.S. troop withdrawals," Kinzinger continued. "He disregarded concerns about the consequences for fragile governments on the front lines of the fight against ISIS and al Qaeda terrorists."
Kinzinger played footage of previous testimony with administration and military officials familiar with the Nov. 11, 2020, memo to withdraw troops.
"Keep in mind [Trump's] order was for an immediate withdrawal. It would have been catastrophic. Yet President Trump signed the order," Kinzinger said during the hearing. "These are highly consequential actions of a president who knows his term will shortly end."
June 9: "What I saw was just a war scene"
At the committee's first public hearing, held in primetime, Thompson and committee vice chair Rep. Liz Cheney characterized the events leading up to the Jan. 6, 2021, attack as a "conspiracy" – with Cheney noting that some Republican members of Congress had even sought pardons from Trump.
"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," she told those Republicans who had supported Trump's efforts to overturn the election. The hearing detailed the chaos on Jan. 6, which so unnerved House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy that he texted Trump family members and told them he was "scared" about what was happening, Cheney noted.
She also showed video testimony from various members of Trump's inner circle saying they did not think he was the winner of the 2020, including his daughter, Ivanka Trump, and her husband, Jared Kushner.
Thompson played a video excerpt of former Attorney General Bill Barr's interview by the House Jan. 6 committee. Barr said he told Trump his claims of a stolen election were "bullsh**."
"I didn't want to be a part of it," he said.
Barr said he couldn't live in a world where an incumbent administration stays in power based on "unsupported by specific evidence that there was fraud in the election."
Two witnesses testified in the June 9 hearing: Capitol police officer Caroline Edwards and documentary filmmaker Nick Quested, who was embedded with the Proud Boys on Jan. 6.
Edwards, who sustained a traumatic brain injury on Jan. 6, described it as a "war scene."
"What I saw was just a war scene," she said. "It was something like I had seen out of the movies. I could not believe my eyes. There were officers on the ground. They were bleeding. They were throwing up. I saw friends with blood all over their faces. I was slipping in people's blood. I was catching people as they fell. It was carnage. It was chaos."
June 13: "I didn't mind being characterized as being part of 'Team Normal'"
In the second hearing the committe showed video testimony from those closest to Trump who said they had told him it was too premature to declare victory on election night in 2020 — and it made the case that Trump used his premature declaration of victory to push baseless claims that the election was stolen.
Thompson said Trump "knew he lost an election and, as a result of his loss decided to wage an attack on our democracy, an attack on the American people, by trying to rob you of your voice in our democracy — and in doing so, lit the fuse that led to the horrific violence of Jan. 6, when a mob of his supporters stormed the Capitol."
The committee showed video testimony from Stepien saying that there were two distinct camps within the Trump campaign: "Team Normal," and "Rudy's team," meaning Rudy Giuliani, who pushed baseless election claims.
"I didn't mind being characterized as being part of 'Team Normal,' as reporters kind of started to do around that point in time," Stepien said in one clip.
In video testimony, Trump aide Jason Miller said that Guiiani was "definitely intoxicated" on Election Night; that night, Giuliani also urged the campaign to say Trump won, Miller said.
Ex-Fox News political editor Chris Stirewalt, fired by the cable network after it called Arizona for President Joe Biden before the other networks testified in person. He defended the call, which turned out to be correct, and testified that Trump had no basis to declare victory on Nov. 4, 2020 (he did so anyway).
Stirewalt also explained the "red mirage," or the expectation that Republicans would appear to be winning in early in the count because they tend to vote in person on Election Day, and those votes are counted first, but mail-in, absentee and early-voting Democrats in many states would not see their votes counted until after polls close.
"For us, who cares? But that's because no candidate had ever tried to avail themselves of this quick in-the-election counting system," Stirewalt said. "We had gone to pains, and I'm proud of the pains we went to make sure that we were informing viewers that this was going to happen because the Trump campaign and the president had made it clear they were going to try to exploit this anomaly."
June 16: "No way" that framers "would have put in the hands of one person the authority to determine who was going to be president"
The hearing focused on the pressure campaign by Trump and lawyer John Eastman on Vice President Mike Pence to toss the 2020 election results during the joint session of Congress on Jan. 6. Eastman had argued that Pence could reject or replace slates of electors, a theory that had no basis in the Constitution or federal law, Pence's former counsel Greg Jacob said.
Two top Pence advisers appeared in person: Jacob and J. Michael Luttig, a retired federal judge who advised Pence in the aftermath of the 2020 election. The committee also showed footage of interviews with Pence chief of staff Marc Short and other aides.
Jacob said he advised Pence in December that he had "no justifiable basis to conclude" that he could unilaterally reject Electoral College votes, confirming what he said was Pence's "first instinct." As president of the Senate, Pence presided over Congress when it gathered to count Electoral Votes on Jan. 6, as required under the 12th Amendment and an 1887 law known as the Electoral Count Act.
"There's just no way that the framers of the Constitution — who divided power and authority, who separated it out who had broken away from George III and declared him to be a tyrant — there was no way that they would have put in the hands of one person the authority to determine who was going to be president of the United States," Jacob said.
Short said Pence had told Trump he would not reject electors "many, many times," but Trump wouldn't drop the idea. Luttig said if Pence rejected Electoral College votes, it "would have been tantamount to a revolution within a constitutional crisis in America."
According to Jacob, Eastman believed that if Pence overturned the election results, he would face a legal challenge – but he also believed the Supreme Court would not take up the challenge.
Jacob testified that Eastman admitted that other vice presidents would not have the power to overturn the election. Jacob and Eastman met on Jan. 5, and in that conversation, Jacob said he invoked the 2000 election, when it was unclear on election night whether George W. Bush or Al Gore had won. Gore was vice president at the time.
"I thought this had to be one of the most powerful arguments: 'John, back in 2000, you weren't jumping up saying Al Gore had this authority to do that. You would not want Kamala Harris to be able to exercise that kind of authority in 2024, when I hope Republicans will win the election. And I know you hope that too, John,'" Jacob recounted.
"And he said, 'Absolutely, Al Gore did not have a basis to do it in 2000. Kamala Harris shouldn't be able to do it 2024 — but I think you should do it today.'"
Trump was aware what was happening at the Capitol when he tweeted that Pence didn't have the "courage" to overturn the election results, White House aide Sarah Matthews testified in video testimony played by the committee.
After the Jan. 6 riot, Eastman asked Giuliani to be included in a list of presidential pardon recipients, according to an email obtained by the committee. Not only did Eastman not get a pardon, but he was subpoenaed by the Jan. 6 committee. In that meeting, Eastman invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination 100 times, committee member Rep. Pete Aguilar said.
June 21: "Do you know how it feels to have the president of the United States to target you?"
The fourth hearing turned the spotlight on the efforts to overturn the election results by switching out the electors in seven battleground states Mr. Biden won.
Committee member Rep. Adam Schiff, who led the meeting, portrayed an election system in peril, under pressure by Trump and his allies, after the election. "The system held but barely and the question remains, will it hold again?" Schiff said.
The hearing laid out the plan hatched to replace the bona fide Biden electors in Arizona with phony ones. The fake electors gathered in Arizona, in what state House Speaker Rusty Bowers called a "tragic parody." Bowers refused to be involved in the plan pushed by Giuliani.
Bowers testified, along with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, his top deputy Gabriel Sterling and Fulton County elections official Wandrea Arshaye ("Shaye") Moss. All detailed how their lives were upended after being publicly pressured by Trump and his allies to overturn the election results.
"After the election, my email, my cell phone was doxxed," Raffensperger said, adding that "disgusting" threats to his wife followed. Bowers described disturbing protests outside his home as his daughter lay gravely ill.
Bowers did not mention that his daughter died in January 2021.
Moss was targeted in a video that Rudy Giuliani falsely claimed contained a "smoking gun" of voter fraud being carried out with "suitcases" full of ballots — none of which was true. Sterling, chief operating officer for the Georgia Secretary of State, told the committee that investigators reviewed 48 hours of footage from the vote counting center (which was also made available to the Trump campaign) and said it simply showed "Fulton County election workers engaging in normal ballot processing." Nevertheless, Moss and her mother, fellow election worker Ruby Freeman, who was also in the video, were targeted.
"Do you know how it feels to have the president of the United States to target you," Freeman said in videotaped testimony played at the hearing.
Sterling said it was "frustrating" trying to fight the misinformation being spread by Trump and his allies. "And I have characterized at one point, it was kind of like a shovel trying to empty the ocean," he added.
Schiff showed texts between an aide to Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and a Pence aide saying they had "alternate slate of electors from MI and WI because archivist didn't receive them" to give to Pence. "'Do not give that to him," Pence's aide responded. Johnson's office denied sending the texts but they were confirmed to CBS News by a Pence aide.
June 23: Trump was "scouring the internet to support his conspiracy theories"
The fifth day of public hearings focused on Trump's pressure campaign at the Justice Department, led by environmental lawyer Jeffrey Clark. Trump wanted to fire acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, who had replaced Barr after he resigned in Dec. 2020," and replace him with Clark.
Committee member Rep. Adam Kinzinger, who led the questioning at the hearing, said Clark's only qualification was that "he would do whatever the president wanted him to do."
Former acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue testified that he told Clark why he was "not even competent" to be attorney general: "He's never been a criminal attorney, he's never conducted a criminal investigation in his life. He's never been in front of a grand jury, much less a trial jury."
Donogue recalled Clark's retort: "'Well, I've done a lot of very complicated appeals and civil litigation, environmental litigation....' And I said, 'That's right. You're an environmental lawyer. How about you go back to your office, and we'll call you when there's an oil spill."
In video testimony, former White House lawyer Eric Herschmann, said he told Clark that "best I can tell, the only thing you know about environmental and elections challenges is they both start with 'E.'"
Clark wanted to send a Justice Department letter urging state legislators in Georgia to delay the election certification, citing suspected voter fraud.
Three former Justice Department officials testified – Donoghue, former acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and former Assistant Attorney General Steven Engel. Donoghue showed handwritten notes he had taken during a call with Trump, showing that Trump had said, "Just say the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the [Republican] congressmen."
After the 2020 election, Trump relentlessly pushed the Justice Department to investigate his claims of election fraud, even after they had been investigated and disproven, the witnesses testified. At one point, when the Justice Department declined to act on a conspiracy theory claiming Italian satellites were switching votes from Trump to Biden, the Defense Department made some inquiries. Donoghue dismissed the theory as "absurd."
Kinzinger said the panel learned that former acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller ended up calling the attaché in Italy to investigate the Italian satellite claim.
Handwritten notes from Donoghue noted that Trump told top Justice Department officials, "You guys may not be following the internet the way I do."
"This is one of the best examples of the lengths President Trump would go to stay in power," Kinzinger said. "Scouring the internet to support his conspiracy theories."
White House officials told the committee that multiple Republican House members asked the White House for presidential pardons: Reps. Mo Brooks of Alabama, Matt Gaetz of Florida, Louie Gohmert of Texas, Andy Biggs of Arizona and Perry, according to former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson.
The day before the hearing, the FBI searched Clark's home.
June 28: "As an American, I was disgusted"
On June 27, the House Jan. 6 committee announced an unexpected hearing would be held the next day to hear from Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows.
In bombshell testimony, she said Trump had been told that the crowd at his rally at the Ellipse had guns and other weapons and that Trump said "something to the effect of, 'I don't effing care that they have weapons. They're not here to hurt me. Take the effing mags away. Let my people in. They can march the Capitol from here. Let the people in. Take the effing mags away,'" referring to the magnetometers, or metal detectors, used for security screening.
Hutchinson also testified that the former president wanted to join his supporters at the Capitol. Hutchinson said that when she returned to the White House, then-Secret Service Tony Ornato told her that Trump had a "very strong, very angry response" when he was told he could not go to the Capitol after his speech.
She said she was told by Ornato, in a room with the head of Trump's security detail Robert Engel, that the president became "irate" when he was told in his vehicle that he could not go to the Capitol. He said something to the effect of "I'm the effing president, take me up to the Capitol now," Hutchinson said.
When told he had to return to the West Wing, Trump reached up to the front of the vehicle to grab at the steering wheel, prompting Engel to grab his arm, Hutchinson said she was told by Ornato. The president then used his free hand to lunge towards Engel, she said, noting that Ornato "motioned towards his clavicles" when describing the incident.
Hutchinson said Engel did not correct or disagree with any part of what Ornato said.
But soon after the hearing, the Secret Service released a statement that said it intended to respond to Hutchinson's testimony. "The United States Secret Service has been cooperating with the Select Committee since its inception in spring 2021, and will continue to do so, including by responding on the record to the Committee regarding the new allegations surfaced in today's testimony," U.S. Secret Service spokesperson Anthony Guglielmi said in a statement to CBS News.
Engel and the driver were, according to CBS News reporting, prepared to testify that neither man was physically attacked or assaulted by Trump and that the former president never lunged for the steering wheel of the vehicle. But they didn't dispute that Trump was irate or that he demanded to be taken to the Capitol, in the language that Hutchinson related to the committee.
In previous video testimony, Hutchinson told the committee that she heard "Proud Boys" and "Oath Keepers" being discussed in the planning of the rally on Jan. 6 – especially when Giuliani was around.
She also recalled that Giuliani told her on Jan. 2: "Cass, are you excited for the 6th? It's going to be a great day." Hutchinson said she asked Giuliani to explain the significance of Jan. 6, and he responded, "We're going to the Capitol. It's going to be great. The president is going to be there, he's going to look powerful."
After Giuliani left the White House campus, Hutchinson said she did ask Meadows about Jan. 6 and said "It sounds like we're going to go to the Capitol."
"There's a lot going on Cass, but I don't know, things might get real, real bad on Jan. 6," Meadows told Hutchinson, she recalled.
Hutchinson said that after the riot, Meadows initially wanted to "deflect and blame" liberal groups for what happened on Jan. 6, although he later went a different route.
Hutchinson described how she felt watching the events of Jan. 6 unfold: "As an American, I was disgusted. It was unpatriotic. It was un-American. We were watching the Capitol building get defaced over a lie. And it was something that was really hard in that moment to digest knowing what I'd been hearing down the hall in the conversations that were happening."
July 12: "It felt as if a mob was being organized"
The Jan. 6 committee next sought to link Trump with the mob at the Capitol. It showed a tweet Trump sent at 1:42 a.m. on Dec. 19, 2020, which said, "Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!"
That post, panel member Rep. Jamie Raskin said, "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," he said.
In the hours that led up to the Dec. 19 tweet, Trump had a meeting at the White House on Dec. 18, 2020, that included Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell, Michael Flynn and Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne. White House aides and advisers arrived later and were alarmed by the allies Trump had invited to the White House. Sidney Powell told the panel, "I bet (White House counsel) Pat Cipollone set a new land speed record" to get to the Oval Office.
"I was not happy to see the people in the Oval," Cipollone, the former White House counsel, testified. "The Overstock person — I didn't know who this guy was."
Raskin said the meeting was described as "heated" and "profane" by some of the participants and even devolved into "challenges to physically fight."
Giuliani testified about his comments to White House aides, admonishing them, "'You guys are not tough enough.' Or maybe, I'd put it another way: 'you're a bunch of p****ies.' Excuse the expression."
The committee showed a text from Hutchinson reading, "the west wing is UNHINGED."
The committee also showed testimony from an anonymous Twitter employee, who said references to "stand back and stand by," the comments that Trump told the Proud Boys at a Sept. 2020 debate, spiked after Trump's Dec. 19 tweet.
"After this tweet on Dec. 19 again, it became clear, not only were these individuals ready and willing, but the leader of their cause was asking them to join him in his cause and in fighting for his cause in D.C. on Jan. 6 as well," the employee said.
Further, the Twitter staffer said that Trump "was speaking directly to extremist organizations and giving them directives. We had not seen that sort of direct communication before."
The Twitter employee also said of that tweet, "it felt as if a mob was being organized."
Stephen Ayres, an Ohio man who pleaded guilty to a charge of disorderly conduct related to the Capitol riot, testified that "I felt like I needed to be down here" after Trump's comments to come to the rally. Ayres told the committee that when he entered the Capitol, he believed at that time the election was stolen, and if Trump himself hadn't pushed those claims, "I may not have come down here."
July 21: "I don't want to say the election is over"
The eighth hearing focused on Trump's actions for 187 minutes during the riot and afterward, when he still would not say on camera that he lost the election.
Matthew Pottinger, a former national security council official, and Sarah Matthews, a deputy press secretary, who both resigned after the attack, testified in person.
As violence erupted at the Capitol, Matthews said she "couldn't believe" that they were arguing over Trump's response, recalling that one colleague didn't want to condemn the rioting because doing so would be "handing a win to the media."
She said she responded, "I motioned up at the TV and said, 'Do you think it looks like we're f'ing winning? Because I don't think it does.'"
The committee also showed testimony from other White House aides and members of Trump's inner circle saying Trump had to take action. When Trump finally issued a statement from the Rose Garden, he refused to deliver the remarks as prepared, said Rep. Elaine Luria, one of the committee members who led the hearing. Trump instead gave the remarks off-the-cuff, claiming "we had an election that was stolen," and he called the rioters "very special" while telling them to go home.
Other never-before-seen footage showed congressional leaders, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell asking acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller when they could get back to certifying the electoral votes.
"We're not going to let these people keep us from finishing our business," McConnell said. "So, we need you to get the building cleared, give us the OK so we can go back in session and finish up the people's business as soon as possible."
As the rioters descended on the Capitol, Trump tweeted that Pence did not have the "courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution." The committee showed footage that suggested many of the rioters took his words as a call to arms against Pence.
Pottinger said it was that tweet that inspired him to resign.