Ahead of the Jan. 6 committee’s first hearing, the panel’s Republican critics predicted the hearing would be a warmed-over rehash of partisan talking points about an attack on the Capitol that took place more than 17 months ago.
They were wrong.
The two-plus-hour hearing was filled with a torrent of new information, including never-before-heard testimony from top Trump administration officials, details about what Trump was doing and saying as the Capitol was under siege, and damning revelations about the lawmakers who knew their efforts to overturn the election may have been illegal. It was followed by a harrowing video montage that revealed, somehow, a shocking new level of violence and aggression from the insurrections as they stormed the halls of Congress.
Here are some of the biggest takeaways from Thursday night.
Trump explicitly condoned the Capitol attack as it was taking place
It’s been reported that Trump enjoyed watching his supporters descend on the Capitol, but on Thursday Liz Cheney revealed that he said explicitly that they were doing the right thing by breaking into the building.
“President Trump believed his supporters at the Capitol … and I quote… ‘were doing what they should be doing,’” Cheney recounted. ‘This is what he told his staff as they pleaded with him to call off the mob, to instruct his supporters to leave.”
Trump said Mike Pence “deserved” to be hanged, committee says
It’s also been previously reported that Trump wasn’t too bothered that his supporters were chanting for Vice President Mike Pence to be hanged. Trump wasn’t only unbothered by the chants, we learned on Thursday, he told his staff the vice president “deserved” to be assassinated for failing to illegally stop the Electoral College count.
Bill Barr, Ivanka Trump, and Mark Meadows all knew the Big Lie was bullshit
Bill Barr has already said that he didn’t buy into the Big Lie that the election was stolen, but the committee played footage of the former attorney general call the idea “bullshit.”
WATCH: Attorney General Barr declares that Donald Trump lost the Presidential election in 2020.
There is no doubt that the American people voted Trump out of office and the Select Committee has found no evidence of election fraud. pic.twitter.com/qa5qNyMXqS
— January 6th Committee (@January6thCmte) June 10, 2022
The committee also played footage of Ivanka Trump testifying that Barr’s belief that the election was legitimate “affected her perspective” on the issue, and that she “accepted what he was saying.”
Rep. Liz Cheney played a part of Ivanka Trump's testimony to the Jan. 6 Committee where she says she accepted that DOJ, AG Barr had not seen sufficient 'evidence of fraud' in the 2020 election.
“It affected my perspective. I respect AG Barr, so I accepted what he was saying.” pic.twitter.com/qbV5S2DpjN
— NBC News (@NBCNews) June 10, 2022
Mark Meadows, the former chief of staff who was one of the central figures in the administration’s effort to overturn the election, was also informed that there was nothing to the president’s claims that the election was rigged. The committee played footage of Trump campaign lawyer Alex Cannon testifying that he told Meadows he wasn’t able to find any evidence of fraud. “I believe the words he used were, ‘So there’s no there there,’” he said of Meadows’ response.
Testimony from former Trump campaign lawyer that Meadows responded with “so there’s no there there?” pic.twitter.com/yBg1uZv2XG
— Acyn (@Acyn) June 10, 2022
Meadows didn’t care.
Republican lawmakers sought pardons for trying to overturn the election
The effort to overturn the election extended well beyond the Trump administration. The former president’s allies in Congress were also working hard to prevent Biden from taking office. Rolling Stone reported last fall that several of them helped organize the rally that preceded the riot at the Capitol.
Cheney revealed on Thursday that some Republican lawmakers — including Rep. Scott Perry — tried to get Trump to pardon them. “Rep. Perry contacted the White House in the weeks after Jan 6. to seek a presidential pardon,” she said, adding that “multiple other Republican congressmen also sought presidential pardons for their roles in attempting to overturn the 2020 election.”
The Proud Boys cased the Capitol on the morning of the insurrection
The testimony of British filmmaker Nick Quested — who was embedded with the Proud Boys on Jan. 6, and who filmed the violent storming of the halls of Congress — revealed that the Proud Boys showed little interest in president Trump’s speech. Instead, they showed up in the morning at the Capitol, and performed reconnaissance for the attack that they would later lead.
Quested testified that the Proud Boys watched Capitol cops getting set up near the Peace Circle on the west side, before circling to the east. They finished their recon mission so early that they had time to go out for out for lunch before returning to the spot they’d first examined — and waited to receive the throngs of Trump supporters, and lead the riot. “What you witnessed,” Chairman Bennie Thompson said, “is what a coordinated and planned effort would look like.”