Perhaps the most compelling and damning moment in the first prime time. House committee hearing investigating Jan. 6 The Capitol insurrection came to an end.
In a heavily edited video montage of official testimony and social media, the riot participants said they had come to protest the 2020 election results. and they had stormed the Capitol because Donald Trump asked them to.
This is the crux of the committee’s burden, to show that the former president, in his actions and his words, incited 2021 riots, which was a violent attempt to prevent Joe Biden’s electoral victory from being recognized by the Electoral College.
For how compelling the first prime time is hearing was, and parts of it were stunning, leaves important gaps for the committee to fill in during the remaining public hearings.
Here are some of the questions that still need answering:
Where is the full testimony?
Seeing a few seconds of Kushner scoffing at the idea of White House lawyers quitting is one thing. The public must also see the entirety of his testimony.
The same goes for Ivanka Trump, Barr and other recognizable members of the Trump administration.
CNN’s Kaitlan Collins and Gabby Orr wrote that those still in Trump’s orbit or trying to maintain their relationship with him will say their testimony was taken out of context in the brief videos released by the committee.
More should be published. House select committee chairman Bennie Thompson told CNN’s Jake Tapper that the committee plans to release the transcripts but gave no further information.
Is there a direct link between Trump and the planning of the riots?
Rep. Liz Cheney, the committee’s vice chair, promised that the hearings in the coming days will show that Trump is directly responsible for the riots, which is an important charge, as Trump has argued he had nothing to do with it.
“President Trump called the mob, brought the mob together, and lit the flame for this attack,” the Wyoming Republican said in her opening statement. Trump had no intention of giving up power, regardless of what the Constitution says.
Is there enough evidence for new trials?
These hearings will create a factual basis for the insurrection, which is important, but they will not themselves create liability for Trump or his inner circle.
The former president has already survived impeachment twice, which means he can run for president again. Everything indicates that he plans to do it.
It is unclear, as we wrote above, when or if the Justice Department will move beyond prosecutions of protesters to focus on efforts to undermine the election.
CNN’s Evan Perez and Edward-Isaac Dovere wrote before the hearing that Attorney General Merrick Garland planned to watch, but many Democrats believe Garland may have missed his moment to prosecute people in Trump’s circle.
That will continue to be the most important question of these hearings: what will come of them? The Department of Justice will have to try to avoid the appearance of influencing the midterm elections by filing cases just before November.
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