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Next January 6 hearing to focus on Donald Trump’s ‘siren appeal’ to violent extremist groups

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On December 19, 2020, President Donald Trump posted on Twitter one of his many baseless claims about the presidential election, claiming it was “statistically impossible” for him to lose to Joe Biden and warning his supporters of a protest in Washington in the coming weeks.

“Major protest in DC on January 6,” Trump tweeted. “Be there, will be wild!”

That tweet would serve as an invitation to far-right militant groups such as the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, as well as other violent extremists who were part of the pro-Trump mob that overran the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to overturn the certification of Biden’s statement. to block. electoral college, members of the House selection committee investigating the uprising said Sunday.

The effect of that tweet — as well as other messages from Trump and his allies — will be examined this week as the commission resumes its public hearings. Tuesday’s session will focus on Trump’s connections to those far-right and political-extremist groups.

“People will hear the story of that tweet, and then the explosive effect it had in Trumpworld, and specifically among the domestic violent extremist groups, the most dangerous political extremists in the country at the time,” Rep. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Md.) said on CBS News’s “Face the Nation.”

Representative Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.), who will lead Tuesday’s hearing with Raskin, said on NBC News’s “Meet the Press” that the Dec. 19 tweet was a “siren call” for those groups that would be Jan. 6. . be a “last stand” to keep Trump in power.

Trump had already mounted a broad and ongoing press campaign — on Vice President Mike Pence, the Justice Department and state election officials — to help overturn the election results, she added, and his tweet amounted to an appeal to those violent groups to provide “extra support” in the run-up to January 6.

Committee members also confirmed on Sunday that they had received a letter from a lawyer for former Trump chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon stating that Bannon is waiving his claim of executive privilege and will testify in a public hearing. Bannon was charged last year with contempt of Congress after he refused to comply with the commission’s subpoena.

Bannon can still assert his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and can insist on conditions, such as testifying on live TV rather than in a closed-door statement, which committee members may not agree to.

Raskin said Sunday the committee would be “very interested” in hearing Bannon, but indicated that his initial testimony was unlikely to be made public.

Tuesday’s hearing will be the committee’s first since Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, gave a stellar testimony about Trump’s anger and inaction on the day of the Capitol attack. Hutchinson testified on June 28 that Trump knew some of his supporters were armed but urged them to march to the Capitol anyway, and that Trump had told Meadows to talk to some of his aides who had relations with far-right extremists. militias.

Former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson testified on June 28 about President Donald Trump’s actions surrounding the January 6 attack on the Capitol. (Video: JM Rieger/The Washington Post, Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) said Sunday it would be “a logical conclusion” that Trump knew the crowd that day included members of those violent extremist groups.

“In these hearings, we will connect the dots between these groups and those in government circles trying to undo the election,” Lofgren said on CNN’s State of the Union. “So we think this story is unfolding in a way that’s very serious and quite believable.”

Raskin, Murphy and Lofgren all indicated that a testimony from former White House attorney Pat Cipollone would be played during the hearing. In a closed-door hearing on Friday, Cipollone testified before the committee for eight hours, providing information that “confirmed key elements of Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony,” committee spokesman Tim Mulvey said in a statement Sunday.

Hutchinson had testified that Cipollone tried to prevent Trump from traveling to the Capitol with his supporters on Jan. 6, fearing criminal liability and her “something along the lines of, ‘Make sure we don’t go to the Capitol, Cassidy. Stay in contact with me. We will be charged with every crime imaginable if we make that move possible.’”

Visual: Cassidy Hutchinson’s Testimony

There was a lot of information from Cipollone’s testimony that “fitted into this bigger puzzle” that the committee is putting together, Murphy said Sunday.

“The general message we gathered from all these witnesses is that the president knew he had lost the election, or that his advisers had told him that he had lost the election, and that he was looking for ways to remain in power and remain president, despite the fact that it was the democratic will of the American people that President Biden be elected next,” she said.

Former White House attorney Pat Cipollone arrived on Capitol Hill on July 8 for a behind-closed-door testimony with the January 6 select committee. (Video: The Washington Post)

The next hearing, Raskin said, will also focus on “the fundamental importance” of a meeting of Trump allies on Dec. 18, 2020 at the Willard hotel in downtown Washington.

At that meeting, a group of outside attorneys, including Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani — called “Team Crazy” by some in the Trump White House — discussed attempts to try to undo the election results. Possible steps included seizing voting machines across the country, Raskin told Face the Nation.

“But against this ‘Team Crazy’ was an internal group of lawyers who at the time essentially wanted (Trump) to acknowledge that he had lost the election, and were much more willing to accept the reality of his defeat at the time,” Raskin said.

Twitter banned Trump from its platform after the Capitol attack, citing the risk of further violence.

Jacqueline Alemany and Isaac Stanley-Becker contributed to this report.

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