By Patricia Zengerle
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The U.S. congressional probe of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by Donald Trump supporters wraps up its summer hearings on Thursday with a prime-time presentation focused on the former president’s actions during the three hours of rage after his raucous speech that day.
The hearing will detail both the scenes of violence that played out as Trump supporters fought their way into the Capitol and Trump’s actions in the 187 minutes between his speech urging the crowd to “fight like hell” and the final release of a video urging rioters to go home.
Ahead of the hearing, Republican Representative Adam Kinzinger released a video on Twitter in which former White House aides and officials described Trump watching television footage of the crowds that stormed the Capitol in a private dining room at the White House.
“To the best of my recollection, he was always in the dining room,” said former press secretary Kayleigh McEnany in the clip, which also showed former White House Counsel Pat Cipollone saying footage of the riot was visible on the screen.
Scheduled at 8 p.m. EDT (0000 GMT Friday) to reach a broad television audience, the public hearing is expected to be the last eight the House of Representatives Select Committee has held since mid-June.
“The focus of this hearing is what was going on here on Capitol Hill as that mob breached barriers and stormed the Capitol and caused a delay in certification of the Electoral College vote,” a committee aide told journalists, speaking on condition of anonymity to preview the hearing.
“We are going to remind people that there was this inaction at the White House,” the aide said, noting that Trump did not release his video telling his followers to go home until after 4 p.m.
The panel of seven Democratic and two Republican House members has been investigating the attack on the Capitol for the past year, interviewing more than 1,000 witnesses and amassing tens of thousands of documents.
It has used the hearings to build a case that Trump’s efforts to overturn his defeat by Democrat Joe Biden in the November 2020 presidential election constitute illegal conduct, far beyond normal politics.
The Washington Post reported that the committee could show outtakes from Trump’s effort to record a video the day after the riot. The newspaper said Trump resisted holding the rioters to account, to call them patriots and refused to say the election was over.
Spokespeople for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
PENCE, MILITIAS AND FRAUD ALLEGATIONS
Questioning of witnesses will be led by Kinzinger and Democratic Representative Elaine Luria.
Committee aides declined to name witnesses, citing security concerns, but according to media reports they will include Matthew Pottinger, a deputy national security adviser under Trump, and Sarah Matthews, a deputy press secretary in his White House.
Democratic Representative Bennie Thompson, the Select Committee’s chairperson, will lead the hearing remotely, after testing positive for COVID-19.
Previous hearings have focused on the run-up to the riot, Trump’s pressure on Vice President Mike Pence to deny Biden the victory, militant groups whose members participated in the Capitol attack and Trump’s interactions with close advisers questioning his false allegations of massive voter fraud.
Committee members said Trump incited the riot by refusing to admit he lost the election and through comments including a December Twitter post calling on supporters to flock to Washington for a “big protest” on Jan. 6, saying, “Be there, will be wild.”
The Republican one-time reality television star, who has hinted he will seek the White House again in 2024, denies wrongdoing. He continues to claim falsely that he lost because of widespread fraud.
Trump and his supporters – including many Republicans in Congress – dismiss the Jan. 6 panel as a political witch hunt, but the panel’s backers say it is a necessary probe into a violent threat against democracy.
The attack on the Capitol injured more than 140 police officers and led to several deaths. More than 850 people have been charged with taking part in the riot, with more than 325 guilty pleas so far.
While Thursday’s hearing is expected to be the last of the current series, the panel left the door open for more in the coming months. The panel has said it had collected far more information than it could present in one series of hearings.
“There is no reason to think that this is going to be the Select Committee’s final hearing,” the aide said. The committee is also expected to have some sort of event to mark the release later this year of a report on its findings.
(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Scott Malone, Andy Sullivan and Alistair Bell)