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Throughout the hearing, Chairman Bennie Thompson and Vice Chairwoman Liz Cheney made their case to the American people, laying out both the severity of the riot thanks to the video footage and testimony from Capitol police officer Caroline Edwards and the pre-meditated nature of the actions of some of the rioters, thanks to testimony from Nicholas Quested’s testimony about the activities of the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers leading up to the breach.
But the hearing is just the beginning of the select committee bringing to light what it knows – both to the public and to the American people. It also comes months before an election in a political climate that typically favors the party opposite of the president’s, which is good news for Republicans. Therefore, the committee is on a limited timeline to make its case to the public. Here’s what comes next for the people both for the committee and Congress:
How will the GOP respond?
Before the committee began its hearings, House Republican leadership tried to pre-empt any revelations by criticising the investigation, calling it partisan and essentially blaming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for the lack of security.
When The Independent asked House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy if House Republicans’ alternative investigation would be released and how many people are cooperating, he threw the question back and asked if I was asking if it would be available on Amazon like the Democrats’ investigation (as my colleague Andrew Feinberg noted, the Amazon listing is for an edition being released by the New Yorker, not by the Democrats).
Meanwhile, the Twitter account for the House Judiciary Republicans wrote simply “All. Old. News” during the hearing.
Except, as Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted, the committee said that a number of that some House Republicans sought a pardon for their actions on that day, alongside Representative Scott Perry, chairman of the House Freedom Caucus.
The next question, of course, is which Republicans asked for a pardon? And more importantly, which crimes did they seek to have absconded from the record?
There was also news that former president Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka agreed with former Attorney General William Barr’s statement that Trump’s lies about the election were “bulls**t.”
Despite Fox News choosing not to broadcast the hearing, that line from the president’s daughter will likely be played ad nauseam and show how she is insufficiently loyal to her father’s cause. How Republicans respond to these allegations could determine both how the general public – and their own base – perceives them.
Which Republicans sought a pardon?
The revelation that Perry and various other members sought a pardon for their actions on 6 January was one of the most shocking, and it was included in Cheney’s opening remarks. The next question of course, is who else sought one? And furthermore, for what crimes did they think they needed a pardon?
So far, the committee isn’t saying. ”I can’t answer those detailed questions”, Representative Jamie Raskin of Maryland, a member of the committee, told reporters in response to a question from friend of the newsletter Manu Raju. “Let’s focus on the facts of what we revealed this evening, which is that there were members of Congress seeking proactive presidential pardons for their involvement in these events. That’s an extraordinary statement.”
Will anyone be held accountable?
Last week, the Justice Department indicted former Trump administration trader adviser Peter Navarro for contempt of Congress. But the department declined to indict either former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows or Deputy White House Chief of Staff Dan Scavino. Representative Cori Bush of Missouri was in the room and spoke to The Independent about why she went to the hearing.
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“I need to bear witness, myself, because this was a president that was at the hands of this. Not only that, whoever, even representatives, if they were part of this, they need to be held accountable”, she said. When asked what that looked like, she said it depends on the nature of their actions.”
It depends on what they did. They should be investigated, if they were part of this, they should be expelled because that is section three of the 14th Amendment”, she said, referencing the part of the Constitution that says no one is allowed to serve in elected office if they “shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same.”
“They should not be in office. And then, depending on what they did, if it has to go further, then they should be prosecuted.”