Republicans spend hearing on Jan. 6 defending insurrectionists and suggesting Dems conspired to allow insurrection to occur
Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) confronted FBI Director Christopher Wray about missed and/or ignored warnings of impending violence ahead of the Jan. 6 insurrection. In one exchange, she referenced a letter from right-wing social media firm Parler to the Oversight Committee claiming they informed the FBI of “violent content” over 50 times in the latter half of 2020.
Ms. Maloney confronted Mr. Wray with messages from the social media site Parler, which she said referred threats of violence to the F.B.I. more than 50 times before the attack on Jan. 6. One message, which Ms. Maloney said Parler had sent to an F.B.I. liaison on Jan. 2, was from a poster who warned, “Don’t be surprised if we take the Capitol building,” and “Trump needs us to cause chaos to enact the Insurrection Act.”
“I do not recall hearing about this particular email,” Mr. Wray replied. “I’m not aware of Parler ever trying to contact my office” (clip).
Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-MI) called out Wray on recent reports that the FBI subpoenaed journalists as part of Trump’s search for alleged leakers. Wray refused to answer his questions, frustrating Krishnamoorthi:
“You’re being evasive. These are yes or no questions. You’re under oath… Sir, serving these secret subpoenas to collect records on members of Congress is something we’d expect in Putin’s Russia, not the United States. And Sir, your involvement needs to be probed just like everyone else’s.” (clip)
Both Army Staff Director Lt. Gen. Walter Piatt and Gen. Charles Flynn (brother of Michael Flynn) denied using the term “optics” to justify a recommendation against deploying troops to the Capitol. This contradicts with previous testimony in which Maj. Gen. William J. Walker told Congress both men didn’t want to send in National Guard troops because it wouldn’t look good.
Flynn: “I did not use the word ‘optics,’ nor did I hear the word used during the call on January 6, 2021, in response to any requests for support or during the planning and execution of that support. I also never heard LTG Piatt or any other Army senior leader use that word that day. My duty that day was to facilitate the planning and execution of (Army) Secretary (Ryan) McCarthy’s decisions and guidance.”
Piatt: “It has been stated that I used the term ‘optics’ in regard to having Soldiers respond to breach of the Capitol; I do not recall using this term on the 2:32 phone call on January 6. I respect and understand that others may recall things differently, but ultimately, on that day, my chief concern was ensuring the Army was able to effectively assist D.C. and federal authorities in regaining control of the U.S. Capitol.”
Piatt testified that he did not turn down requests for help on Jan. 6:
“I was asked three times if I was denying the request. I responded each time that I was not denying the request, and that I had no authority to approve or deny the request.”
The Republicans of the Committee used their time to further conspiracy theories about the insurrection, defend Trump’s Department of Justice, and rail against the president.
Ranking Member James Comer (R-KY) used his opening statement to complain about the topic of the hearing and criticize Dr. Anthony Fauci (clip):
What we are hearing when we spent the last three weeks traveling the district – all of our districts – listening to the job creators and the employers of America that are frustrated because they can’t find workers: it’s a bigger problem than inflation. It’s a bigger problem than all of these Biden policies that are starting to kick in.
We would love to have a lot of hearings. We send you letters almost every other day requesting certain hearings. When you talk about the rules, we’ve requested many times to have Dr. Fauci come and explain what he meant in those emails that have become public.
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) defended the Trump White House’s attempts to overturn the election (clip):
“Pressured the Department of Justice, they say…[White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows] sent an email to Mr. Rosen, the acting Attorney General: Can you have your team look into these allegations of wrongdoing? Wow, a lot of pressure there [sarcasm]…After all, lots of Americans – 90 million Americans – had concerns with the election. But what are the Democrats doing? They’re going to launch a bunch of investigations, calling five people for depositions…”
Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) (clip) continued defending rioter Ashli Babbitt, who was shot while trying to breach the Speaker’s Lobby:
Gosar: “Director Wray, do you know who executed Ashli Babbitt?”
Wray: “No I do not know the name of the person–”
Gosar: “Do you agree that Ashli Babbitt was unarmed?”
Wray: “No, I really can’t weigh in on the facts and circumstances of that case…”
Gosar: “It’s disturbing. The Capitol police officer that did this shooting appeared to be hiding, lying in wait, and then gave no warning before killing her.”
Gosar: “Do you approve of lethal force against unarmed citizens, particularly a 110-pound woman with no warning, no use of non-lethal force prior, while lying in wait?
Wray: “Not going to try to answer a hypothetical…”
Gosar: “That’s not a hypothetical, that’s actually what happened.”
Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-WI) focused on spreading the idea that the vast majority of the insurrectionists were no more than tourists (clip):
Grothman: “Of those people in the Capitol, I am under the impression, that day, that there are people who clearly, horrifically did wrong things…but we also remember seeing people on tv that day who are almost let in the Capitol. Could you break down, give me numbers broken down in those two areas, the number who broke into the Capitol and the number that appeared to almost be escorted in by the capitol police?”
Wray: “I’m not sure I could give you reliable numbers on that sitting here right now…”
Grothman: “As I recall that day, there were people who it appeared were walking in the door and it appeared as though the capitol police perhaps out of exhaustion or whatever motivation, allowed people to walk in the capitol? Are there people like that?”
Wray: “At any given moment you might have somebody caught on a particular stretch of video walking along in a way that’s unremarkable. I really cannot speak in a broad, categorical way about intention.”
Grothman: “People back home are concerned about a certain class of person. I want to know whether you feel these people existed. Were there people… [who] just wound up in the Capitol – breaking the law but had no idea they were breaking the law – were there people like that?”
Wray: “I really cannot give you an assessment. That’s why we are investigating.”
An irate Rep. Clay Higgins (R-LA) suggested that the Congressional Democrats and D.C. Mayor Bowser colluded to somehow allow the insurrection to occur, without explaining his theorizing or presenting any evidence (clip):
“My, my, my. My colleagues across the aisle are going to find themselves in a bind this year because we’re going to investigate. We’re going to investigate what exactly did happen leading up the January 6…”
“Mayor Bowser, my goodness, on December 31 she had one tone when she requested the cooperation of the D.C. National Guard… On January the 5th, Mayor Bowser of D.C., who is deeply connected with my Democratic colleagues here in this body, had a change of heart. Sent out a letter [saying] ‘we don’t want any National Guardsmen’… So what happened? Were there communications between my colleagues of the Democratic party and their friend, the Mayor of D.C., to have that change of heart the day before Jan. 6? We’re going to find out! I promise you.”
“Director Wray, can you explain to my colleagues, in law enforcement what a show of force deterrence is? How meaningful it is and how effective it is as we deal with the potential for violence, mob behavior, rioting, violent protests…” “A very significant factor, I concur. Why do you think America that show of force was canceled the day before Jan. 6? I promise you we’re going to find out. We will know exactly what happened and some in this body are not going to like it! …Who could possibly benefit – let the world ask that question – who could possibly benefit from the removal of a show of force deterrence on the even of Jan. 6?”
Finally, Republicans interrupted Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) during his questioning time, requiring Chairwoman Maloney to step in (clip).
The same day as the hearing on the insurrection, 21 House Republicans voted against legislation to award the Congressional Gold Medal to the police officers who defended the U.S. Capitol.
- Andy Biggs, Arizona
- Lauren Boebert, Colorado
- Michael Cloud, Texas
- Andrew Clyde, Georgia
- Warren Davidson, Ohio
- Matt Gaetz, Florida
- Louie Gohmert, Texas
- Bob Good, Virginia
- Paul Gosar, Arizona
- Marjorie Taylor Greene, Georgia
- Andy Harris, Maryland
- Jody Hice, Georgia
- Thomas Massie, Kentucky
- Mary Miller, Illinois
- Barry Moore, Alabama
- Ralph Norman, South Carolina
- Scott Perry, Pennsylvania
- John Rose, Tennessee
- Matt Rosendale, Montana
- Chip Roy, Texas
- Greg Steube, Florida