The House select committee investigating the failed insurrection at the US Capitol on 6 January 2021 initially only planned to hold six public hearings, according to a draft schedule, but has just held its seventh and announed an eighth.
Further sessions became necessary due to the sheer weight of evidence available regarding the deadly attack on the heart of government in Washington, DC, carried out by enraged supporters of Donald Trump attempting to overturn his 2020 presidential election defeat.
The next committee hearing will take place on Tuesday 21 July at 8pm ET, the panel has indicated, with chairman Bennie Thompson calling it ”the last one at this point”.
The hearing is expected to focus on the testimony of White House aides and centre around precisely what Mr Trump was doing while his supporters were violently assaulting the Capitol.
The committee’s vice chair and ranking Republican, Liz Cheney, said the hearing would analyse ”minute by minute” what was going on at the White House as the attempted coup unfolded.
“You will hear that Trump never picked up the phone that day to order his administration to help,” she said on Tuesday.
“This is not ambiguous. He did not call the military. The secretary of defence received no order. He did not call his attorney general. He did not talk to the Department of Homeland Security. [Vice president] Mike Pence did all of those things.”
Another member of the committee, Maryland Democrat Jamie Raskin, said the hearing ”will be a profound moment of reckoning for America”.
Next Tuesday’s session will be a primetime meeting like the very first, to allow more Americans to watch than have seen the others, which have been held in the early afternoon while the majority of people are at work.
The seventh session focused on the chaotic and often heated days before 6 January 2021 as well as Mr Trump’s influence over far-right groups and ties between those entities and some in his inner circle.
Video testimony was played from White House lawyers describing theories pushed by lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell that they thought were “nuts,” including compromised voting machines and thermostats.
An 18 December meeting in the White House lasted for six hours and devolved into “screaming” and profanity, several participants said, as the two sides clashed over Mr Trump’s next steps.
White House counsel Pat Cipollone told the committee that the lawyers kept asking Mr Giuliani and Ms Powell for evidence but never received any credible answers.
The committee also heard from Stephen Ayres, one of the rioters who broke into the Capitol that day and pleaded guilty last month to a misdemeanour count of disorderly conduct.
Testifying in person, he talked about how he had believed Mr Trump’s lies as they were amplified on social media and said he had come to Washington at the behest of the president.
His arrest changed his life for the worse, Mr Ayres said, and he expressed anger that he had believed the false fraud claims.
More evidence was also presented that Mr Trump had planned to call on his supporters to march to the Capitol and that he would go with them.
The panel showed a draft tweet, undated and never sent, that said: “Please arrive early, massive crowds expected. March to the Capitol after. Stop the Steal!” It was stamped, “president has seen.”
They also presented texts and email exchanges between planners and White House aides about a secret plan for the march.
Overall, the hearings have sought to outline how Mr Trump pushed the conspiracy theory that Joe Biden’s victory at the polls had been achieved by conspiracy and manipulation, that he had known it to be untrue and had ignored his closest advisers in favour of conspiring with cronies to try to overturn the outcome by an inflammatory show of force.
“We want to paint a picture as clear as possible as to what occurred,” Mr Thompson told reporters last month before the proceedings got underway.
“The public needs to know what to think. We just have to show clearly what happened on 6 January.”
The hearings typically last between two and two-and-a-half hours, with one of the committee members leading each of the hearings, but attorneys who know the sensitive material involved well conduct most of the questioning of witnesses.
Most of those appearing have been subpoenaed.
Once the hearings have been concluded, the panel is expected to produce a final report before the November midterms detailing its findings and making recommendations.
As we have seen, the content and schedule for the hearings may be subject to change but you can follow all the very latest updates on The Independent website, via our liveblog and regular breaking news updates.
Additional reporting by agencies
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