The U.S. House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack began its first of multiple hearings on Thursday during prime-time television viewing. The committee is made up of seven Democrats and two Republicans.
Jan. 6 committee Chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson, a Democrat from Mississippi, declared during opening statements that those who invaded the U.S. Capitol put America's “constitutional democracy at risk.”
“America has long been expected to be a shining city on a hill. A beacon of hope and freedom,” Thompson said. “How can we play that role when our own house is in such disorder? We must confront the truth with candor, resolve and determination.”
The panel announced that they would be presenting new video along with other evidence from the deadly U.S. Capitol riot during Thursday's hearing, but also laid out what is to be expected in future hearings this month.
Congresswoman Liz Cheney accused former President Donald Trump of creating a "sophisticated" plan to overturn the U.S. election and spread "false and fraudulent information" to convince large parts of the U.S. population to believe that he had won the election but was facing a fraudulent election system, when in fact that wasn't true, the panel stated.
The members began presenting a summary of their findings to show "previously unseen material" that documents the attack on Jan. 6, 2021.
Capitol Police officer Caroline Edwards and British filmmaker Nick Quested gave compelling testimony during the hearing recalling their experiences among the crowd of rioters that day. Edwards recounted how she was knocked unconscious by Trump supporters but after regaining her consciousness was forced to continue "hand-to-hand" combat with the crowd. Edwards testified that she was not trained for that type of encounter and that she wasn't prepared.
Edwards was reportedly one of the first officers injured in the attack and Quested was embedded with the Proud Boys on the day of the attack.
Congresswoman Cheney referenced testimony from former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, who as the New York Times reported, gave testimony during an account to the House Select Committee, that he recalled former President Trump said "something to the effect of, maybe Mr. Pence should be hanged," referring to former Vice President Mike Pence who was certifying the presidential election votes that day.
Hundreds of rioters could be heard chanting "Hang Mike Pence!" on Jan. 6, the New York Times reported.
“President Trump summoned a violent mob,” said Rep. Cheney. “When a president fails to take the steps necessary to preserve our union, or worse, causes a constitutional crisis, we’re in a moment of maximum danger for our republic.”
Thousands of documents have been turned over and dozens of witnesses have spoken to the committee about the attack and former President Donald Trump's attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election.
Four rioters died during the assault, including Ashli Babbitt, who was shot and killed by a Capitol Police officer when she attempted to enter a secure area.
Five Capitol Police officers died in the days following the attack, either from health complications or suicide.
The Justice Department has charged nearly 900 people in connection to the events of Jan. 6.