September 30, 2022

In each of the public hearings held by the House select committee investigating Jan. 6, a few standout moments have captured the public’s attention. Thursday’s prime-time hearing was no different, with a clip of Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley immediately taking over social media.

While previous hearings explored the rioters, Trump’s speech at the Ellipse preceding the riot, and other aspects of his actions after the November 2020 election, the eighth hearing held this summer focused on the 187 minutes of then-President Donald Trump’s inaction while rioters descended on the Capitol. Committee vice chair Rep. Liz Cheney said there could be more hearings this fall.

Twitter users quickly set the clip of Hawley running to a variety of soundtracks — but there were a few other moments in the committee’s hearing that also made a mark. 

Trump watches TV

A White House employee told President Trump about the riot “as soon as he returned” to the Oval Office from his speech at the Ellipse, said Democratic Rep. Elaine Luria — but no records exist of what happened for much of that afternoon. Luria said the Presidential Daily Diary was silent; the chief White House photographer was told “no photographs” and the official White House call logs don’t show Trump “receiving or placing a call” until almost 7 p.m.

Luria said Trump went to a private dining room next to the Oval Office and stayed there from 1:25 p.m. until after 4 p.m. Witnesses told the committee that Trump sat at the head of the table, facing a television hanging on the wall. 

“We know from the employee that the TV was tuned to Fox News all afternoon,” Luria said, adding that other witnesses confirmed Trump was in the dining room with the TV on during that time. 

The committee’s 3D graphic of the West Wing highlighted the location of the dining room, complete with footage from Fox News on the TV.

Pence’s Secret Service detail says goodbye to their families

After the riot began, Vice President Mike Pence retreated from the Senate chamber to his office in the Capitol. His security detail debated their next move, heard during the hearing as the committee played recordings of their radio transmissions. But that wasn’t all that was happening.

Members of Pence’s detail, in fear for their own lives, began making calls to family members to say goodbye, said an anonymous security official in recorded testimony.

“The members of the VP detail at this time were starting to fear for their own lives,” the anonymous official testified. “There were a lot of – there was a lot of yelling, a lot of – I don’t know – a lot of very personal calls over the radio,” the person testified. “So – it was disturbing. I don’t like talking about it, but there were calls to say good-bye to family members and so forth. It was getting – for whatever the reason was on the ground, the VP detail thought that this was about to get very ugly.”

Trump’s video outtakes: “I don’t want to say the election is over”

The committee shared never-before-seen raw footage of Trump on Jan. 7 recording a video message condemning the violence on Jan. 6. In it, he argues with his daughter Ivanka, who helps him edit his remarks in real-time, and slams the podium and refuses to say parts of the speech.

“I would like to begin by addressing the heinous attack yesterday, and to those who broke the law, you will pay,” Trump said in the footage. “You do not represent our movement, you do not represent our country, and if you broke the law — can’t say that. I already said you will pay …”

“But this election is now over. Congress has certified the results,” he continued, before stopping to argue with parts of the prepared text. “I don’t want to say the election’s over. I just want to say Congress has certified the results without saying the election’s over.” 

Sen. Josh Hawley’s escape

The committee showed a famous photograph of Sen. Josh Hawley, a Republican from Missouri, raising his fist toward Trump’s supporters gathered outside the Capitol early in the day on Jan. 6. 

That gesture stuck with an unnamed Capitol Police officer, Luria said. It riled up the crowd, the officer told the committee, “And it bothered her greatly because he was doing it in a safe space, protected by the officers and the barriers,” Luria said of the officer.

But it was Hawley’s later flight from the Capitol after the mob entered  — illustrated with a clip from security footage of him running across a hallway, then replayed in slow motion before a different clip showed him running down the stairs — that became one of the most talked-about moments of the night. Later clips shared on Twitter showed people in attendance at the committee hearing reacting with laughter.

Texts from officials: “If he acknowledged the dead cop, he’d be implicitly faulting the mob”

The committee also revealed texts from Trump campaign officials Tim Murtagh, Trump’s director of communications, and one of his deputies, Matthew Wolking, criticizing the president’s treatment of the death of Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, who died on Jan. 7, 2021 after being injured in the riot.

“Also shitty not to have even acknowledged the death of the Capitol Police officer,” Murtagh wrote to Wolking. 

Wolking responded, “That is enraging to me. Everything he said about supporting law enforcement was a lie.” 

Murtagh replied, “You know what this is, of course. If he acknowledged the dead cop, he’d be implicitly faulting the mob. And he won’t do that, because they’re his people. And he would also be close to acknowledging that what he lit at the rally got out of control. No way he acknowledges something that could ultimately be called his fault. No way.”

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