The New Jan. 6 Revelations That Trumpers Might Never See

A police officer describing the “war scene,” where she found herself slipping in her colleagues’ blood, is just part of what we learned in the first hearing.

This content comes from the latest installment of our weekly Breaking the Vote newsletter out of VICE News’ D.C. bureau, tracking the ongoing efforts to undermine the democratic process in America. Sign up here to get it in your inbox every Friday.

If last night’s inaugural hearing of the January 6 investigative committee accomplished anything, it was to show, to anyone who cared to see, just how deeply Trumpism has scarred American democracy. 

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A Capitol Police officer, knocked unconscious, then getting back up into the “war scene,” only to find herself slipping in the blood of her choking and vomiting colleagues, all at the hands of her fellow Americans—who, when not in a feral rage, swear they love police. Young men who said their reason for traveling to Washington to riot was a president who’d told them to. Republican members of Congress who sneer at the idea that Jan. 6 was more than a scuffle with “peaceful patriots”, but only after they scurried to the White House seeking presidential pardons for their roles. 

“All. Old. News,” one congressional Republican account run by a coup participant tweeted after the televised hearings. But not quite. As far as new news, there was some: GOP Rep. Scott Perry, chairman of the Trumpist Freedom Caucus, already known to have helped spearhead the former president’s purge of the Justice Department, was one of “multiple” Republicans to seek a pardon after Jan. 6, committee Vice-Chair Liz Cheney said. 

Here’s some more: Trump’s advisers, Cabinet members, and eldest daughter all saying they knew there was no widespread voter fraud and that Trump had lost the election. “I told the president it was bullshit,” former Attorney General William Barr said of the Big Lie, in a deposition. “I accepted what he was saying,” Ivanka Trump said of Barr. That’s important. If prosecutors ever want to show Trump conspired to defraud the United States, they’ll have to show he knew (or should have known) his stolen election assertions were false. 

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And here was another revelation: In the hours of violence and mayhem at the Capitol, Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley received “two or three” phone calls from an “animated” Vice President Mike Pence, who ordered protection for the Capitol. Donald Trump never called once. 

The committee has now mapped out five more hearings, where they’re promising to illustrate the broad, multi-front coup attempt that Breaking the Vote readers are already familiar with: the foisting of stolen election lies on the public; the attempt to coerce Pence to (as Cheney made sure to repeat) illegally disrupt the electoral count; the move to purge and weaponize the DOJ to overturn the election; the scheme to recruit fake electors in seven states; the unleashing of the Jan. 6 mob (see below for news on witnesses).

All of this will be on display to the American audience–except, of course, where the democratic rot of Trumpism is most profound. Fox News didn’t carry last night’s hearing. In fact, Tucker Carlson’s show ran with no commercial breaks, preferring to lose money rather than risk anyone flipping channels and catching a faint glimpse of reality. 

It’s a shame. They’ll be awash in Trumpist Republicans’ “counterprogramming,” put on by Republicans who in many cases participated in the plot. Which makes it not a savvy Beltway media strategy but a cover-up. That means they’ll never see newly released tape of GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy on Jan. 11, pledging never to sweep the insurrection under the rug and vowing to launch an investigation to hold those responsible accountable. (McCarthy, a witness to Trump’s actions on Jan. 6, refused to tell the truth to the committee, lied about his view that Trump should resign, then did everything he could to kill accountability.) The audience will never have to suffer the cognitive dissonance of testimony and videos reminding them just how revolting Jan. 6 was, only to realize that McCarthy, and many, many other Republicans, once knew it too.

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The next hearing is Monday at 10 a.m. We’ll see how well the committee presents a case that sticks with the public. But Cheney may have already captured the most vital truth within reach. 

“I say this to my Republican colleagues who are defending the indefensible,” she said. “There will come a day when Donald Trump is gone, but your dishonor will remain.”

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Militias’ intent

“Stand back and stand by,” Trump said to the Proud Boys during a presidential debate in the fall of 2020. Last night the January 6 committee showed just how the neo-fascist group responded to the call. Just as the buzz was starting to build for last night’s hearing, federal prosecutors charged five Proud Boys, including former leader Enrique Tarrio, with seditious conspiracy. It’s a nine-felony indictment, with a 10th charge of theft tacked on for Dominic “Spazz” Pezzola, who was caught on video stealing a Capitol Police riot shield prosecutors say he later used to smash through a Capitol window. It’s a superseding indictment: Tarrio and others were already charged with conspiring to obstruct the counting of electoral votes and other stuff on Jan. 6. Now the sedition charge puts the gang at risk of sentences up to 20 years for conspiring to oppose the federal government by force.  

That was all before the committee showed extensive new video of Proud Boys approaching, casing, and attacking the Capitol, including the assault on Officer Caroline Edwards. She testified about the carnage last night. “I’m not combat--trained, and that day, it was just hours of hand-to-hand combat,” she told the committee.

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Recall that prosecutors also charged Stewart Rhodes and 10 Oath Keepers with seditious conspiracy, and that several of those guys have already pleaded guilty and flipped. Filmmaker Nick Quested and his crew filmed a meeting between Tarrio, Rhodes, and others in a D.C. parking garage on the night before the insurrection. 

T.W.I.S.™ Notes

Save Navarro

It feels like Homecoming Week on the This Week in Subpoenas desk. 

Will former White House aide Peter Navarro ever get to kick up his heels in the Trumpier confines of The Villages now that he’s been charged with contempt? Navarro took to the pro-coup airwaves this week begging viewers to bail him out of steep lawyer’s fees. “This could go to a million. I’ve got to raise that money! I can’t kill my retirement!” he said on Seb Gorka’s streaming show. Navarro copped two counts for refusing to produce testimony and documents to the January 6 committee, despite repeated public interviews where he described his “Green Bay Sweep” coup plan. 

- You probably heard that two other top Trump lieutenants avoided charges for their refusal to cooperate with the committee. Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and adviser Dan Scavino won’t get charged for covering up what they know about the plot. On one hand, that’s super discouraging, but on another, it could actually signal lurking accountability at the DOJ. 

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- Former White House Counsel Pat Cipollone and several former top DOJ officials are in talks to testify live in front of the January 6 committee. Cipollone was in the Oval Office with Trump as the violence unfolded on Jan. 6 and famously (in the Breaking the Vote universe, anyway) threatened mass resignations if Trump installed more sycophants at DOJ. BTW, that’s what a normal person calls “defending principle,” and what Jared Kushner calls “whining.” A bunch of other officials are likely to testify, including Pence general counsel Gregory Jacob, former acting AG Jeffrey Rosen, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, and Cassidy Hutchinson, a Meadows aide who spent a lot of time with the committee.

- Trump lawyer and coup-nurturer John Eastman was ordered to turn over another 159 emails he tried to hide from the committee, including one that federal Judge David Carter said contains more evidence that Trump and Eastman committed crimes while executing their coup plot. Carter also ordered Eastman, who’s taken the Fifth at the committee, to turn over 10 documents outlining secret meetings he held with Trump allies in December 2020 aimed at overturning the election. (Shoutout to Politico’s Kyle Cheney, who’s been absolutely crushing the Eastman story and so much more on the legal side of the coup investigation.)

Sinners and feints

Judge Carter made clear in his ruling that the plot to subvert the electoral count and overturn the election was in motion well before Jan. 6. And now it’s clear that federal prosecutors know it too. In an email dated Dec. 13, 2020, a Trump campaign director named Robert Sinners (h/t Charles Dickens) urged a group of Georgia Republicans to exercise “complete secrecy” while instructing them to sneak into the Georgia Capitol, abscond to a side room, and sign fake-elector documents. The email was obtained by federal prosecutors investigating the fake-elector part of the coup plot, and has also found its way to both the January 6 committee and Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, who’s convened that special grand jury looking at Trump’s scheme to subvert Georgia’s election. 

Surrounded by N.M.’ies

New Mexico Republicans’ nominee to control elections is a stolen-election conspiracist who likes posting antisemitic trash to the internet. VICE News’ Cameron Joseph has the story on secretary of state candidate Audrey Trujillo, who won the GOP primary unopposed on Tuesday. She called Joe Biden’s 2020 win a “huge coup” and tweeted, then deleted, a meme suggesting COVID vaccines are part of a Jewish conspiracy. 

Hamm on lie

Meanwhile, another member of the QAnon-fueled coalition of Trumpist secretary of state candidates went down in California Tuesday: Rachel Hamm came in a distant third in her quest to bring bullshit conspiracies to Sacramento. 

Vegas crapshoot

Hamm wasn’t expected to do well in California, but a far more important primary goes off next week. Next Tuesday is Nevada’s GOP primary, where Jim Marchant, the QAnon-backed Trump ally, is running for secretary of state. Marchant, who’s also quite fond of antisemitic conspiracies, is part of a Trump-endorsed coalition that’s already won one SoS nomination in Michigan. Nevada’s a swing state, and this is a big deal: Having acolytes ready to use their power to steal the general election is a key part of Trump’s strategy for a return to power in 2024. 

A couple of Lansing blows

Fresh off news that a bunch of candidates were disqualified from Michigan’s governor’s race for submitting fake signatures, another leading candidate there was just arrested by the FBI in connection to Jan. 6. Ryan Kelley was present at the Capitol and was photographed climbing scaffolding and cheering on rioters who breached the Capitol. This week he was arrested and charged with what federal prosecutors said were “misdemeanors” related to Jan. 6. Kelley recently placed first in a poll of GOP candidates with 19 percent support. 

In other disturbing Wolverine news, Michigan State Police are expanding their investigation of Trumpist cops who may have tried to tamper with voting in 2020 and continue to investigate the election. Dar Leaf, Barry County’s Trumpist sheriff, filed a lawsuit saying state police are trying to thwart his ongoing investigation of voting irregularities in rural Michigan. The state police say their investigation expanded from a probe of an incident where police and a third man entered Barry County’s offices and took a vote tabulator after the 2020 election. Leaf also reportedly discussed seizing voting machines after 2020 with Sidney Powell and Michael Flynn.

“There were officers on the ground. They were bleeding. They were throwing up. I saw friends with blood all over their faces. I was slipping in people's blood.” — Capitol Police officer Caroline Edwards, describing her efforts to protect the Capitol from Proud Boys and other rioters on Jan. 6. 

Cruel summer — The Department of Homeland Security again warned of an increased risk of violence this week, alluding to “high-profile events” that could antagonize aggrieved individuals, religious and ethnic extremists and anti-government activists (they left out “with guns,” but, yeah). That’s no surprise given recent mass murders in Buffalo and Texas, as well as abortion-clinic attacks ahead of a looming decision on Roe v. Wade. 

Almost on cue, an armed man was arrested and charged with attempted murder after being found near Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s house armed and ready to talk about his plan to kill a Supreme Court justice. He appeared to be upset about the Uvalde massacre and the court’s recently-leaked draft abortion decision. In other words, not a right-wing Trumpist but a violent extremist of another sort. 

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Meanwhile, we’ve been all over the campaign to threaten, intimidate, and ultimately replace good-faith election workers with Trumpists. It’s the foundation of the burgeoning Trump strategy to call 2024 election results into question, then have the officials in place to use the pretext to overturn results. Here’s a good breakdown of how it works and why it matters. It’s also good to see local reporters tracking the story in their own communities. Like in Shasta County, California, where a county clerk says people showed up at her offices to intimidate election workers after Tuesday’s primary.

We Bilked the Wall — The last alleged co-conspirator in Steve Bannon’s $25 million “We Build the Wall” scam managed to avoid a federal guilty verdict this week, when one holdout juror sparked a mistrial. Eleven of 12 jurors wanted to convict Timothy Shea of conspiring to defraud donors to the “We Build the Wall” charity—two others have already pleaded guilty and Bannon was charged, then pardoned (shocker), by Trump. Jurors complained that the holdout accused them of being “liberals” and would not vote to convict Shea. 

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Meanwhile, even though Bannon was pardoned on federal charges, state prosecutors in New York are still apparently sniffing around his role in the scam. Federal prosecutors say Bannon stole $1 million from donors, while the charity only built about a mile of border fence. 

Q, and A — The man who helped unleash QAnon conspiracies on the internet says he was “interrogated” by the January 6 committee this week. VICE News’ David Gilbert has more on Jim Watkins, the owner of 8kun, the online message board once known as 8chan. It’s the place where “Q” dropped thousands of messages that metastasized into the Trumpist/stolen election/COVID conspiracy/antivax/Christian nationalist clusterfuck it is today. Definitely not coincidentally, QAnon influencer and Arizona congressional candidate Ron Watkins (Jim’s son) says he’s been told by the committee to prepare for a subpoena, but the committee wouldn’t confirm that.  

Trump on trial: A guide to the January 6 hearings and the question of criminality. THE BROOKINGS INSTITUTION


Two January 6 defendants and the consolidation of right-wing extremism. THE NEW YORKER

One potential Supreme Court case could transform U.S. election law. TALKING POINTS MEMO

Tagged:

Trump, Liz Cheney, Proud Boys, qanon, jan 6, Caroline Edwards

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