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Jan. 6 hearing expected to focus on link between militants, White House

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Jan. 6 hearing expected to focus on link between militants, White House


The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection plans to hold its seventh public hearing on Tuesday, with an expected focus on the ways in which former president Donald Trump and his allies summoned far-right militant groups to Washington as he grew increasingly desperate to hold on to power.

The hearing is likely to drill down on the period after states cast their electoral college votes on Dec. 14, 2020, action that confirmed Joe Biden’s victory. Trump, the committee is expected to argue, then shifted his focus to using the date of the congressional counting of the votes, Jan. 6, 2021, to block a peaceful transfer of power.

A committee aide said on a conference call with reporters Monday that the hearing will lay out the way that far-right militant groups like the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers and others took cues from the former president and his allies. Particular attention will be paid to his Dec. 19, 2020, posting on Twitter: “Big protest in D.C. on January 6th,” Trump tweeted. “Be there, will be wild!”

The tweet that served as “a pivotal moment that spurred a chain of events, including preplanning by the Proud Boys,” noted the committee aide, who was not authorized to speak on the record. The tweet was issued “a little more than an hour after meeting with Rudy Giuliani, Gen. Mike Flynn [ret.], Sidney Powell and others where they consider taking actions like seizing voting machines, appointing a special counsel to investigate the election.”

The committee will also highlight the ties between violent extremist groups and Trump associates — connections lawmakers on the committee have already hinted at during previous hearings.

“We will show how some of these right-wing extremist groups who came to D.C. and led the attack on the Capitol had ties to Trump associates, including Roger Stone and Gen. Mike Flynn,” said the committee aide.

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During a hearing late last month featuring Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, committee vice chairwoman Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) asked Hutchinson about her former boss’s communications with Stone and Flynn.

“I’m under the impression that Mr. Meadows did complete both a call to Mr. Stone and Gen. Flynn the evening of the 5th,” Hutchinson responded.

Hutchinson also testified in a videotaped deposition that she generally recalled “hearing the word Oath Keeper and hearing the word Proud Boys closer to the planning of the January 6th rally when [Rudolph] Giuliani would be around.”

Tuesday’s hearing, led by Reps. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Md.) and Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.), will also address the conspiracy theories, like QAnon, that ultimately radicalized some of the Americans who stormed the Capitol. One of the live witnesses scheduled to appear on Tuesday is Jason Van Tatenhove, who served as national spokesman for the Oath Keepers and as a close aide to Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes from around 2014 to 2018 — an era he said Rhodes considered “the golden years” for his group.

Van Tatenhove’s job involved trying to get Rhodes on Fox News or Infowars, an online trafficker of conspiracy claims. Van Tatenhove was part of the inner circle of Oath Keepers leadership in its formative years, but had left the group well before the 2020 election. In interviews with The Washington Post last year, Van Tatenhove described Oath Keepers as a cult of personality around Rhodes.

Von Tatenhove is among many former Oath Keepers who say Rhodes, who boasts a Yale law degree, promoted violent ideology and called on supporters to revolt but was adept at shielding himself from legal consequences. Van Tatenhove said Rhodes raked in membership dues to radicalize cadres of military veterans and former police officers. Rhodes amassed a large nationwide network, though he commanded few actual forces; the Jan. 6 showing was among the biggest in Oath Keeper history and ultimately was the group’s undoing.

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Rhodes is now among the Capitol riot defendants facing seditious conspiracy charges and his group has splintered into rogue chapters and spinoffs. A book proposal from Van Tatenhove last year described him as working “side by side” with Rhodes for about three years. “Jason has been waiting for the right time to tell his own story in his own words about his misadventures with Oath Keepers,” the proposal stated. “Now is that time.”

The latter portion of the hearing will look at efforts by White House staffers and advisers to the president to keep Trump away from the Capitol, despite his attempts to get there. Murphy and Raskin will also home in on “the involvement of members of Congress in the final stretch before January 6, particularly their involvement in a pressure campaign against the Vice President specifically” said a committee aide.

The hearing after Tuesday’s, which is expected to be led by Reps. Elaine Luria (D-Va.) and Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), had been tentatively planned for Thursday, but is now slated for next week in light of new evidence and testimony obtained by committee investigators.

Lawmakers on the panel said over the weekend that the public could expect to see parts of former White House counsel Pat Cipollone’s transcribed interview from Friday appear during the hearing on Tuesday.

Committee spokesperson Tim Mulvey told The Washington Post on Sunday that Cipollone provided “critical testimony on nearly every major topic in its investigation, reinforcing key points regarding Donald Trump’s misconduct and providing highly relevant new information that will play a central role in its upcoming hearings.”

A federal judge on Monday rejected Stephen K. Bannon’s bid to delay his trial next week after the Justice Department called his offer to testify before the committee a “last-ditch attempt to avoid accountability” on charges of criminal contempt of Congress. Bannon had for months resisted testifying before the committee, but reversed himself over the weekend.

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Bannon’s name could come up in Tuesday’s hearing, as lawmakers see the former White House strategist as a key figure in radicalizing some of Trump’s supporters. They say they have evidence showing that Bannon repeatedly talked to Trump and his advisers in the lead-up to Jan. 6.



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