November 29, 2022

The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol will hold the third in a series of public hearings on Thursday beginning at 1 p.m. ET. 

CBS News will broadcast the hearing as a Special Report.

Committee vice chair Rep. Liz Cheney tweeted a preview of the hearing, saying it would be focused on “President Trump’s relentless effort on Jan. 6 and in the days beforehand to pressure Vice President Pence to refuse to count lawful electoral votes.” 

Pence’s former counsel Greg Jacob and conservative jurist J. Michael Luttig, who has advised Pence, are scheduled to appear. Two people familiar with Luttig’s expected testimony, who were not authorized to discuss details of the hearing, told CBS News that he is expected to tell the committee “America’s democracy was almost stolen from her.”

Luttig will also likely state that the Republican National Committee is wrong to have referred to some of the events of Jan. 6, 2021, as “legitimate political discourse,” and he will warn fellow conservatives to not ignore the gravity of what Trump did as he scrambled to hold onto the presidency that day.   

Luttig will also reveal how he advised then-Vice President Mike Pence to resist Trump’s pleas for Pence to block the congressional certification of Joe Biden’s election victory.   

Capitol Riot Investigation Highlights
Former President Donald Trump speaks in a video exhibit as the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol holds a hearing to reveal its findings on Monday, June 13, 2022.

Susan Walsh / AP

There will also be video from the deposition of former Pence chief of staff Marc Short, but he will not be a live witness, committee aides said Wednesday.

Committee aides also said there will be four sections of the hearing. First, the committee will explore the appearance of the theory by lawyer John Eastman and others that the vice president could unilaterally reject electors. Next, aides said the committee will focus on the rejection of that theory by Pence’s lawyers, a “group of committed public servants who upheld their oath” and gave Pence “sound advice” that he didn’t have the authority.

Third, aides said the committee will present the pressure campaign on Pence, with Trump both participating and trying to rally his supporters to get them to pressure the vice president themselves. The committee will argue this directly contributed to the attack on the Capitol, and put Pence’s life in danger. 

Last, aides said the committee will present that there is an ongoing threat to democracy because there are still people advocating the election was rigged, while at the same time there were people in the White House who had the view, expressed by former White House senior adviser and lawyer Eric Herschmann, that Eastman was going to need a good criminal defense attorney.

Cheney on Tuesday showed a video clip of testimony of Herschmann speaking about a conversation he had with Eastman on Jan. 7, 2021 — the day after the riot. Herschmann said Eastman mentioned something about Georgia and preserving something for appeal, and Herschmann said he replied, “Are you out of your f-ing mind? I said I only want to hear two words coming out of your mouth from now on: Orderly transition.”

Herschmann added that he told Eastman, “‘Now I’m going to give you the best free legal advice you’re ever going to get in your life: Get a great f-ing criminal defense lawyer, you’re going to need it.’ And then I hung up on him.”

The inclusion of the Herschmann clip suggests Thursday’s hearing will take a look at Eastman’s role. CBS News has obtained records showing Eastman pushed the Pennsylvania House of Representatives to help overturn Mr. Biden’s victory in the state and send “an alternate slate of electors” for Trump.

Cheney said in her opening statement last week that the committee will present email exchanges between Eastman and Jacob, the Pence attorney. “Jacob said this to Mr. Eastman: ‘Thanks to your bullsh**, we are under siege,'” Cheney said. 

On Wednesday, the committee released surveillance footage showing GOP Rep. Barry Loudermilk leading a group of people on a tour of the Capitol complex the day before the attack, with some of the guests documenting locations like staircases, security checkpoints and hallways.

The committee asked Loudermilk last month for information about a tour he led of the Capitol complex before the assault. Loudermilk denied that he ever gave a tour of the Capitol itself on Jan. 5, when it was closed to tourists due to the COVID-19 pandemic. After a review of security footage, the U.S. Capitol Police determined last month that there was “no evidence” that Loudermilk led the group into the Capitol and said “we do not consider any of the activities we observed as suspicious.”

But the committee suggested otherwise in a letter to Loudermilk on Wednesday. The new footage shows the congressman leading “a tour of approximately ten individuals led by you to areas in the Rayburn, Longworth, and Cannon House Office Buildings, as well as the entrances to tunnels leading to the U.S. Capitol,” Committee Chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson wrote. The group stayed for “several hours,” he wrote, and some “photographed and recorded areas of the complex not typically of interest to tourists.” 

Thompson said Wednesday that the video will not be used in Thursday’s hearing.

What was scheduled to be the third hearing Wednesday was postponed on Tuesday, the committee said. There was some uncertainty behind the reason for the delay. Committee member Rep. Zoe Lofgren said the delay was due to “tech issues” with the staff putting together the video presentation. But a committee spokesperson said the postponement was “due to a number of scheduling factors, including production timeline and availability of members and witnesses.”

Meanwhile, committee member Rep. Pete Aguilar said Tuesday that the schedule has “always been fluid.” 

The committee has two more public hearings scheduled: Tuesday, June 21 at 1 p.m. ET, and Thursday, June 23 at 1 p.m. ET.  Thompson said Wednesday that the committee is planning on finishing the hearings this month, meaning two more still need to be scheduled. 

Zak Hudak contributed reporting.

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