Politics

Absolutely Everything We Learned From the Jan. 6 Hearings

A recap of eight hearings, countless witnesses, spilled ketchup, and a Big Lie.

Cassidy Hutchinson, a top aide to former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, listens during the sixth hearing by the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the US Capitol, in the Cannon House Office Building in Washington, DC, on June 28, 2022. Her hands are clasped under her chin.
Cassidy Hutchinson, a top aide to former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, listens during the sixth hearing by the House Select Committee. Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

On Thursday, the House Select Committee on Jan. 6th held its eighth hearing in a series that laid out the results of its investigation of the attack on the Capitol. While this is the last hearing of the summer, the committee also announced that hearings would start back up in September. Each has revealed new pieces of testimony or evidence that might ultimately be used in criminal prosecutions against those who plotted the events that became the Capitol riot—including Donald Trump.

Advertisement

It’s been a lot of information, and a lot of spectacle. To help clarify what it is the American public has learned over the past six weeks, here is a compilation of all of the major facts the committee made public for the first time in these hearings.

Hearing One: June 9

The focus of this hearing was laying out what Trump’s saner advisors had told him about the outcome of the election (that it wasn’t stolen, and he had lost). The purpose was to demonstrate that Trump knew the Big Lie was a big lie.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

New facts:

• Donald Trump’s own daughter, Ivanka Trump, testified that she “accepted” Attorney General William Barr’s statements that there was no evidence that the 2020 election had been stolen.

Advertisement
Advertisement

• Former Trump campaign data guru Matt Oczkowski told Trump “in pretty blunt terms that he was going to lose” in the days after the election, according to Trump campaign advisor Jason Miller.

Advertisement

• Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley, testified that Vice President Mike Pence was coordinating the government’s entire response to Jan. 6 while the president did nothing and his staff whined about the “narrative” that the vice president was in charge.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

The takeaway: Trump was told explicitly that he had lost the election by almost everyone on his campaign and by his White House advisors. He should have known fraud did not play a role in his loss.

Hearing Two: June 13

The focus of this hearing was how Trump lied about voter fraud in ways that ultimately formed the basis for the Big Lie that riled up the crowd on Jan. 6.

New facts:

• Miller testified that Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani “was definitely intoxicated” on Election Night and told the president to just go out and declare victory before the votes had been counted, which the president eventually did.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

• When Trump was told by Acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue that each one of his individual claims of fraud had been investigated and why each one was bogus, Trump repeatedly responded “OK fine, but what about the others?”

The takeaway: Top people in the Department of Justice spent hours investigating and debunking Trump’s conspiracy theories about the election. When they tried to tell him the claims weren’t true, he simply refused to accept it.

Hearing Three: June 16

The focus of this hearing was on Trump’s efforts to convince Vice President Mike Pence to enact an absurd and illegal scheme formulated by attorney John Eastman to have the vice president unilaterally declare Trump the winner of the election on Jan. 6. There was also another theory, that Pence could declare the official count null and send it back to the states for a recount that would declare Trump the winner.

Advertisement
Advertisement

New facts:

• Ivanka Trump’s former chief of staff testified that the president’s daughter heard Trump call the vice president “the p-word” during a heated phone call in which he told Pence he was being weak in refusing to overturn the election.

Advertisement

• Some members of the mob that stormed the Capitol ultimately got within 40 feet of Pence on Jan. 6.

• Eastman was told by multiple people that his plan would result in street violence if it was carried out. Pence’s attorney, Greg Jacob, testified that as Eastman tried to pressure Pence to overturn the election, Jacob warned Eastman that his plan would present an “unprecedented constitutional jump ball situation” that would “have to be decided in the streets.” White House lawyer Eric Herschmann was blunter, telling Eastman that his plan was “crazy” and that he was “going to cause riots in the streets.” According to Herschmann’s testimony, Eastman replied to these warnings by saying “words to the effect of ‘there’s been violence in the history of our country in order to protect the democracy or protect the republic.’”

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

• Pence’s office acknowledged that the president outright lied when Trump denied a New York Times report that the vice president had rejected his entreaties to interfere in the Electoral College count. “We were shocked and disappointed, because whoever had written and put that statement out it was categorically untrue,” said Jacob of a statement that had been dictated directly by Trump.

Advertisement
Advertisement

• Prior to offering the plan to overturn the count, Eastman drafted a letter that acknowledged that such a plan would be unlawful because the 12th Amendment “says merely that [the Vice President] is the presiding officer” and “nowhere does it suggest that the President of the Senate gets to make the determination on his own.”

• Herschmann testified that he told Eastman after the failed coup, “I’m going to give you the best free legal advice you’re getting in your life: Get a great effing criminal defense lawyer. You’re going to need it.”

Advertisement

• When Pence learned that Eastman was still pressing his case even after the Jan. 6 riot, Pence said “that’s rubber room stuff.”

• Eastman wrote an email to Giuliani saying “I’ve decided that I should be on the pardon list, if that is still in the works.”

Advertisement

The takeaway: John Eastman should probably already be in jail. Attorney General Merrick Garland’s cautious approach to Trump investigations may be the only thing that has saved him so far, but there’s evidence that is about to change.

Hearing Four: June 21

The focus of this hearing was on Trump’s efforts to pressure state and local officials to help him overturn the election, with testimony from a mother and daughter pair of election workers at the center of a Trump conspiracy theory whose lives were nearly destroyed by Trump’s lies.

Advertisement

New facts:

• During the Jan. 6 count, an aide to Sen. Ron Johnson texted an aide to Pence saying “Johnson needs to hand something” to the vice president. That something was a slate of fraudulent electors declaring Trump the victor in Wisconsin and Michigan.

• Rusty Bowers, speaker of the Arizona House, testified that Congressman Andy Biggs called him on the morning of Jan. 6 trying to get him to sign onto a phony slate of electors.

Advertisement

• Bowers testified that during an attempt by Giuliani to pressure Bowers to go along with the phony elector scheme, the president’s attorney admitted “We have lots of theories, we just don’t have the evidence.”

Advertisement
Advertisement

• Shaye Moss, a Fulton County election worker who ended up at the center of a Trump-fueled conspiracy theory, described an election night incident which Giuliani said was Moss passing her mother Ruby Freeman vote-stealing “USB drives … as if they were vials of heroin or cocaine.” Moss testified that the object in question was a ginger mint.

Advertisement

The takeaway: Election officials had their lives turned upside down and often threatened if they stood up to Trump’s Big Lie.

Hearing Five: June 23

The focus of this hearing was on a last-ditch scheme for Trump to replace Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen with a more coup-friendly attorney general, Jeffrey Clark, who was willing to send letters to swing states Trump had lost telling them that their elections had been marred by fraud and that they should reconsider the outcome.

Advertisement
Advertisement

New facts:

• Clark was listed in White House visitor logs at one point as the official attorney general.

Advertisement

• The House Select Committee presented testimony that Rep. Scott Perry—who was heavily involved in the attempt to bolster Clark’s position at DOJ—requested a pardon. The committee also showed that Reps. Andy Biggs, Mo Brooks, Louie Gohmert, and Matt Gaetz requested pardons.

• White House lawyer Herschmann claimed he told Clark: “Effin’ a-hole, congratulations, you just admitted the first step or act you take as attorney general will be committing a felony and violating [the federal rules of criminal procedure]. You’re clearly the right candidate for this job.”

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

• Former Acting Deputy Attorney General Donoghue described an episode in which Trump attempted to pressure Rosen into seizing voting machines. When Trump was told that voting machines were the Department of Homeland Security’s department, Donoghue says Trump had his assistant call up Acting Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Ken Cuccinelli and falsely claimed on the phone to Cuccinelli “the acting Attorney General … just told me it’s your job to seize machines, and you’re not doing your job.”

The takeaway: The DOJ did everything it could to stop Trump from installing someone as attorney general who would take part in his attempted coup. They succeeded, but Trump’s efforts had more significant backing than we previously knew.

Hearing Six: June 28

The focus of this hearing was the blockbuster testimony of Cassidy Hutchinson, the former chief of staff to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, of what happened in the White House in the days leading up to Jan. 6, during the attack itself, and in its immediate aftermath.

Advertisement
Advertisement

New facts:

• Hutchinson testified that four days before the Jan. 6 rally, Giuliani told her “We’re going to the Capitol. … The president is going to be there. He’s going to look powerful.”

Advertisement

• Hutchinson testified that in the days preceding Jan. 6, Meadows told her that “things might get real, real bad on Jan. 6.”

• Hutchinson testified that prior to Jan. 6, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone told her that he was worried that if Trump did lead a march on the Capitol as planned “we’re going to get charged with every crime imaginable if we make that movement happen.” That included “potentially obstructing justice or defrauding the electoral count.”

• In perhaps the most critical piece of testimony of the entire months of proceedings, Hutchinson testified that on Jan. 6 Trump wanted as many armed supporters to be let into his rally as possible, saying that he was “fucking furious … that we weren’t letting people through the [magnetometers] with weapons.” She testified: “I overheard the president say something to the effect of, you know, ‘I don’t even care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me. Take the f-ing mags away. Let my people in. They can march to the Capitol from here. Let the people in. Take the f-ing mags away.’”

Advertisement

• In the testimony that’s gotten the most attention, Hutchinson said that deputy chief of staff Anthony Ornato told her on Jan. 6 that Trump had demanded to be taken to the Capitol saying “I’m the effin’ president, take me to the Capitol now,” then lunged at the steering wheel of his vehicle, then lunged at the “clavicles” of a secret service agent when the driver refused to take him.

Advertisement
Advertisement

• Hutchinson testified that after Attorney General William Barr told the Associated Press in December that there was no evidence of fraud sufficient to change the outcome of the election, Trump got so angry that he threw a plate in the White House dining room and splattered ketchup on the wall that she then helped clean up.

Advertisement
Advertisement

• Hutchinson testified that as protesters chanted “Hang Mike Pence,” Trump was told that the mob was targeting Pence. Meadows told Cipollone of Trump’s view on the matter within earshot of Hutchinson, and she testified that Meadows said, “you heard him, Pat. He thinks Mike deserves it. He doesn’t think they’re doing anything wrong.”

Advertisement
Advertisement

• As previewed in an earlier hearing, Hutchinson testified that Reps. Matt Gaetz, Louie Gohmert, Andy Biggs, Mo Brooks and Scott Perry asked for pardons and she heard that Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene had also asked for one. Hutchinson also testified that Giuliani and Meadows expressed interest in pardons.

• The committee also showed transcribed anonymous testimony (that was later reported to be from Hutchinson) that seemed to provide evidence of witness tampering. According to committee Vice Chair Liz Cheney, the witness (Hutchinson) reported that she was reached out to by someone in Trump’s orbit: “What they said to me is as long as I continue to be a team player, they know I’m on the right team. I’m doing the right thing. I’m protecting who I need to protect, you know, I’ll continue to stay in good graces in Trump World. And they have reminded me a couple of times that Trump does read transcripts.” Hutchinson was also allegedly told: “He wants me to let you know that he’s thinking about you. He knows you’re loyal, and you’re going to do the right thing when you go in for your deposition.”

Advertisement
Advertisement

The takeaway: Trump knew his supporters would be armed and possibly violent, and he wanted those armed and possibly violent protesters to go to the Capitol. He also wanted to be there with them when they committed their crimes.

Hearing Seven: July 12

The focus of this hearing was an “unhinged” December White House meeting between Trump, Michael Flynn, Rudy Giuliani, former overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne, and several White House aides.

Advertisement
Advertisement

New facts:

• In that meeting, Trump declared that he was naming Powell special counsel with the power to seize voting machines. (He didn’t actually ultimately do so.)

• Flynn allegedly told the group that Nest-brand thermostats were being used to steal votes.

Advertisement

• Giuliani testified that he called Cipollone, Herschmann, and another member of the White House legal team that didn’t want to declare martial law and seize voting machines “a bunch of pussies.”

• Multiple documents showed that Jan. 6 rally organizers had early knowledge that Trump was going to “spontaneously” call on the crowd to go to the Capitol.

Advertisement

• In one text exchange, Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale acknowledged that Trump was culpable for the attack, saying Trump was a “sitting president asking for civil war,” “a woman is dead,” and, “[i]f I was trump and knew my rhetoric killed someone” he’d feel bad about it.

Advertisement

• The committee described further evidence of witness tampering, with Cheney saying: “President Trump tried to call a witness in our investigation, a witness you have not yet seen in these hearings. That person declined to answer…instead alerted their lawyer…this committee has supplied that information to the Department of Justice.”

Advertisement

The takeaway: Trump sent his December tweet about a “wild” rally on Jan. 6 immediately after failing to get his way in the Powell meeting. This hearing showed his willingness to try anything to try to stay in office.

Hearing Eight: July 21

The focus of this hearing was on what Trump did during the 187 minutes between the end of his speech and when he finally called off the mob via a Rose Garden video in which he told them he loved them and to go home.

• Rep. Elaine Luria said: “There are also no photos of Pres. Trump during this critical period. … The chief White House photographer wanted to take pictures…but she was told, quote no photographs.”

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

• A White House security official testified that while Pence was being hidden in the Capitol during the attack, “members of the VP [secret service] detail were starting to fear for their own lives … there were calls to say goodbye to family members…for whatever reason on the ground the VP detail thought this was about to get very ugly.”

• The committee presented the original script for Trump’s Rose Garden remarks. He was initially supposed to say “I am asking you to leave the Capitol Hill region NOW and go home in a peaceful way.” He did not say this line in the video.

• Assistant to the president Nicholas Luna testified that Trump was told that he should edit a tweet the president sent midway through the riot. That tweet said: “These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long.” Luna testified he told the president the tweet sounded like Trump was taking credit for the assault on the Capitol: “I remember saying to him … the wording on the first sentence would leave some to believe that potentially he had something to do with the events that happened at the Capitol. … I don’t recall him saying anything in response to that, I believe that was the end of the conversation. … The phrase ‘these are the things that happen’ to me sounded as if culpability was associated with it.”

• The committee aired footage of outtakes from Trump’s next-day speech in which he called for a transition of power and which was the closest thing he offered to a concession. Even after the riot, Trump refused to concede the election was over while making the video. Trump, cutting off the words of his own speechwriters, said: “I don’t want to say the election is over, I just want to say Congress has certified the results without saying the election is over.”

The takeaway: Donald Trump’s inaction on Jan. 6 made him complicit in the attack, and even after the riot, he would not admit he lost the 2020 election.

Advertisement