Jan. 6 committee holds seventh hearing

By Adrienne Vogt, Aditi Sangal, Mike Hayes, Maureen Chowdhury and Elise Hammond, CNN

Updated 6:59 p.m. ET, July 12, 2022
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3:08 p.m. ET, July 12, 2022

Pierson told committee she flagged Meadows about "very suspect" groups going to Capitol

From CNN's Jeremy Herb and Adrienne Vogt

(Pool)
(Pool)

On Jan. 2, 2021, Katrina Pierson, former spokesperson for Trump's 2016 campaign who helped organize the rally on Jan. 6, texted former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows about the upcoming rally, telling him that "things have gotten crazy."

Meadows called her back a few minutes later, and Pierson told the Jan. 6 House select committee that she told him "there were a bunch of entities coming in," adding "some were very suspect."

When asked what she meant specifically by "suspect," she said:

"I did briefly go over some of the concerns that I had raised to everybody with Alex Jones or Ali Alexander and some of the rhetoric that they were doing" at other events, she said.

Alexander and Jones helped plan a "Stop the Steal" rally at the Georgia state capitol.

Jan. 2 was also the day that Meadows had told former aide Cassidy Hutchinson that the rally "might get real, real bad," according to Hutchinson's testimony.

Pierson, who helped organize the rally on Jan. 6, told another organizer that Trump “likes the crazies” as she expressed concerns about potential speakers, according to text messages obtained by the House select committee.

Pierson, who sent the text on Dec. 30, 2020, confirmed to the committee in a deposition that she was talking about Trump. 

“Yes, I was talking about President Trump. He loved people who viciously defended him in public,” Pierson said, according to the video deposition played during Tuesday’s hearing.

3:10 p.m. ET, July 12, 2022

Phone logs show Bannon spoke to Trump before Jan. 5 statement that "all hell is going to break loose tomorrow"

From CNN's Tierney Sneed

(Pool)
(Pool)

Before recording a Jan. 5 podcast in which he predicted that “all hell is going to break loose tomorrow,” former Donald Trump adviser Steve Bannon spoke to Trump, according to White House phone logs obtained by the Jan. 6 committee. The logs also show that Bannon and Trump spoke again that evening.

The first Jan. 5 call started at 8:57 a.m. from Bannon’s cell phone and lasted 11 minutes, according to the committee’s presentation.  

Bannon also told his podcast listeners that day that it was “all converging” on a “point of attack tomorrow.” 

After recording the evening episode, Bannon had a six-minute phone call with Trump that started at 9:46 p.m., according to the phone logs featured at Tuesday’s hearing. 

3:02 p.m. ET, July 12, 2022

Trump was planning for days before Jan. 6 to ask his supporters to march to the Capitol 

From CNN's Katelyn Polantz

(Pool)
(Pool)

Then-President Donald Trump planned days ahead of Jan. 6, 2021, to tell his supporters to march to the US Capitol from his rally on the National Mall, according to an unsent tweet intended for Trump's account.

"I will be making a Big Speech at 10AM on January 6th at the Ellipse (South of the White House). Please arrive early, massive crowds expected. March to the Capitol after. Stop the Steal!!" the draft tweet says. 

The document recording the draft tweet, obtained by the House Select Committee via the National Archives, which inherited Trump White House documents, includes a stamp saying: "President has seen."

The committee on Tuesday used the tweet's existence to show how Trump and his advisers were interested in sending crowds to Capitol Hill. Lawyers for Trump since the January 6 attack have tried to argue his encouraging supporters to walk to the Capitol was political speech, and that he was not in control of the crowd nor responsible for the riot at the Capitol.

"The evidence confirms that this was not a spontaneous call to action, but rather was a deliberate strategy decided upon in advance by the President," Rep. Stephanie Murphy, a House Select committee member, said at the hearing Tuesday.

A text message from a rally organizer also appears to confirm Trump planned days in advance about his rally moving to Capitol Hill. The message, from Kylie Jane Kremer to right-wing figure and businessman Mike Lindell, outlines that the President would have his rally march to another stage outside the Supreme Court building, which is behind the Capitol.

"It can also not get out about the march because I will be in trouble with the national park service and all the agencies but POTUS is going to just call for it 'unexpectedly,'" Kremer wrote, the House committee showed on Tuesday.

Another organizer, Ali Alexander, also indicated on Jan. 5 that he expected Trump to "order" his supporters to march.

2:43 p.m. ET, July 12, 2022

Violent groups started aligning because of Trump tweet ahead of Jan. 6, DC homeland security official says

(Pool)
(Pool)

Former President Trump's Dec. 19, 2020, tweet calling his supporters to the capital on Jan. 6 united violent groups, according to Donell Harvin, the former chief of homeland security for Washington, DC.

"These nonaligned groups were aligning," he told the Jan. 6 House select committee.

"All the red flags went up at that point. When you have armed militia collaborating with white supremacy groups collaborating with conspiracy theory groups online, all towards the common goal, you started seeing what we call in terrorism a blended ideology," Harvin said.

"And that's a very, very bad sign," he added.

2:33 p.m. ET, July 12, 2022

The Jan. 6 committee hearing is back from break

From CNN staff

The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection at the US Capitol is back after taking a short break. 

Here's who is expected to testify:

  • Jason Van Tatenhove, a former spokesperson and self-described "propagandist" for the Oath Keepers
  • Stephen Ayres, one of the many people who descended on Capitol Hill on Jan. 6 and was later accused and pleaded guilty to entering the Capitol illegally

2:37 p.m. ET, July 12, 2022

Here are the key moments from the hearing so far

(Sean Thew/Pool/AP)
(Sean Thew/Pool/AP)

Rep. Bennie Thompson, the chairman of the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection, laid out the foundation for the panel's seventh public hearing, saying evidence will show how former President Donald Trump "summoned a mob" in a "last-ditch effort" to overturn the 2020 election.

Thompson said by Dec. 14, 2020, Joe Biden had been elected President but, "by that point, many of Donald Trump supporters were already convinced that the election had been stolen because that's what Donald Trump had been telling them."

Former White House counsel Pat Cipollone's testimony to the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot at the US Capitol "met our expectations," said Rep. Liz Cheney, vice chair of the committee.

Clips from Cipollone's testimony last week have been played during the hearing.

If you're just reading in, here are some of the key moments from the hearing so far:

  • Cheney: Trump is "not an impressionable child," he is responsible for his actions: Rep. Cheney said that the new strategy of Trump's allies in defending him appears to be that Trump was "manipulated by others outside the administration" like attorneys John Eastman or Sidney Powell or Rep. Scott Perry. "The strategy is to blame people his advisers called, quote, the crazies, for what Donald Trump did. This, of course, is nonsense," Cheney said, adding that Trump is a 76-year-old man and "not an impressionable child." She added: "Just like everyone else in our country, he is responsible for his own actions and his own choices.
  • Trump tweet was a "call to action" to his supporters: Rep. Stephanie Murphy, a member of the Jan. 6 select committee, said that one of former President Trump's tweets in the lead-up to the Capitol attack was a "call to action and in some cases, as a call to arms for many of President Trump's most loyal supporters." On Dec. 19, 2020, Trump tweeted encouragement for his supporters to travel to Washington, DC, on Jan. 6, 2021. "Be there, will be wild," it read, according to Murphy.
  • White House meeting with Trump and advisers described as "unhinged": Rep. Jamie Raskin referenced a meeting that took place on Friday, Dec. 18, 2020, at the White House that he says has been called "unhinged," "not normal," and "the craziest meeting of the Trump presidency." Raskin said that a team of outside advisers to Trump visited him in the White House on that date. "The outside lawyers who had been involved in dozens of failed lawsuits had lots of theories supporting the big lie, but no evidence to support it."
  • Former White House counsel told committee Trump should've conceded election: Former White House counsel Pat Cipollone, in the first aired footage of the 8-hour interview he had with members of the Jan. 6 select committee, said he agreed with other Trump officials that there was not sufficient evidence of election fraud. Cipollone specifically testified that he believed Trump should've conceded the election. "I was the White House counsel. Some of those decisions were political. ... If your questions is did I believe he should concede the election at a point in time? Yes I did,” he said in video footage shown in the hearing.
  • Giuliani's legal team knew there wasn't evidence to support election fraud claims: Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin cited emails from Rudy Giuliani's legal team, which shows that they did not have sufficient evidence of widespread voter fraud ahead of Jan. 6, 2021. "Even Rudy Giuliani's own legal team admitted that they did not have any real evidence of fraud sufficient to change the election results," Raskin said. Several officials, including those who were working on the Trump campaign, said they never saw evidence that backed up Rudy Giuliani's claims that there was election fraud.
  • Former attorney general said Trump asked to seize voting machines: A clip of former Attorney General Bill Barr's testimony played today by the committee revealed Trump asked Barr to seize voting machines after the 2020 election. "My recollection is the President said something like, well, some people say we could get, you know, to the bottom of this if the department sees the machines. It was a typical way of raising a point," Barr said. The former AG said he responded, "Absolutely not, there is no probable cause and I'm not going to seize any machines." 
2:32 p.m. ET, July 12, 2022

Former Twitter employee recalls concern about Trump talking directly to extremists on platform

(Pool)
(Pool)

A former Twitter employee who worked on the team responsible for platform and content moderation policies throughout 2020 and 2021 said they were concerned that former President Trump seemed to be talking directly to extremist organizations on Twitter and "giving them directives."

They testified that they were worried Trump would use the platform to incite violence.

"If the former president Donald Trump or any other user on Twitter, he would've been permanently suspended a very long time ago," the former employee said, speaking anonymously.

Despite concerns, the employee said Trump remained on Twitter unchecked.

"It felt as if a mob was being organized and they were gathering together their weaponry and their logic and their reasoning behind why they were prepared to fight," they said.

On Dec. 19, the former President tweeted encouragement for his supporters to travel to Washington, DC, on Jan. 6, 2021. This tweet marked a turning point in the chatter, the former Twitter employee said.

Before the Dec. 19 tweet, the organization among extremist groups was "nonspecific but very clear," but after, the former employee said it became clear that people were willing to fight for the cause.

"It became clear not only with these individuals ready and willing, but the leader of their cause was asking them to join him in this cause and fighting for this cause in DC on Jan. 6 as well," the employee said.

They also said they were "shocked" by the responses to Trump's tweets.

"I very much believe that Donald Trump posted his tweet on December 19 was essentially staking a flag in DC on Jan. 6 for his supporters to come and rally," adding they were concerned about this gathering becoming violent.

2:32 p.m. ET, July 12, 2022

Raskin: Trump turned away from advisers and used Twitter to mobilize protest that resulted in Jan. 6 riot 

(J. Scott Applewhite/AP)
(J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin said that former President Donald Trump eventually turned away from his advisers at the White House after an "unhinged" meeting in December 2020 with Sidney Powell, Michael Flynn and Rudy Giuliani and tweeted out an invitation, where he falsely claimed the 2020 election was stolen and urged his supporters to come to Washington, DC, on Jan., 6, 2021 to protest.

"President Trump turned away both from his outside advisers, most outlandish and un-workable schemes and his White House counsel's advice to swallow hard and accept the reality of his loss. Instead, Donald Trump issued a tweet that would galvanize his followers, unleash a political firestorm, and change the course of our history as a country," Raskin said.

He continued, "Trump's purpose was to mobilize a crowd and how do you mobilize a crowd in 2020? With millions of followers on Twitter, President Trump knew exactly how to do it. At 1:42 a.m. on December 19, 2020, shortly after the last participants left the unhinged meeting, Trump sent out the tweet with his explosive invitation."

The tweet, Raskin said, repeated the election fraud lie and claimed it was "statistically impossible to have lost the 2020 election." The tweet then went on to call for a "big protest in DC on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!"

3:29 p.m. ET, July 12, 2022

Trump tweet persuaded far-right and QAnon followers to come to DC on Jan. 6

From CNN's Alex Rogers

(Pool)
(Pool)

Former President Trump’s December tweet urging his followers to come to Washington, DC, on Jan. 6, 2021 for a “wild” and “big” protest attracted some of his most extreme supporters, including followers of the QAnon conspiracy theory, and was greeted online by White supremacists and other proponents of violence, according to witness interviews and exhibits released by the House select committee on Tuesday.

Jim Watkins, the administrator of 8kun, an online forum that is the home of the QAnon conspiracy, told the House panel that he decided to go to Washington on Jan. 6 after Trump’s tweet on Dec. 19. 

“When the President of the United States announced that he was going to have a rally. Then I bought a ticket and went,” testified Watkins.

The House panel showed in its hearing Tuesday how some of Trump’s followers took to social media with violent online rhetoric; One online commenter called for the “DAY OF THE ROPE!” and for a “WHITE REVOLUTION.”

“I’m ready to die for my beliefs,” posted someone on the anonymous forum 4chan on Jan. 5, 2021. “Are you ready to die police?”

The committee also deposed Jody Willams, former owner of the racist and anti-Semitic site TheDonald.win.

"After it was announced that he was going to be there on the 6th to talk, yes, then anything else was kind of shut out and there was just going to be on the 6th," Williams said.

A commenter on the site posted that they would "bring handcuffs and wait near the tunnels." Another poster encouraged people to bring "body armor, knuckles, shields, bats, pepper spray, whatever it takes."

See how Trump's tweet ignited far-right calls to flood the Capitol: