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WASHINGTON (Fwrd Axis) — The January 6 committee held its final public hearing for the summer, ending this session with riveting testimony as they filled in the gaps of the 187 minutes from when former President Donald Trump told his supporters to march to the Capitol, and when he finally told them to “go home.”
The committee heard testimony from Sarah Matthews, a former Trump White House press aide, and Matthew Pottinger, a member of the National Security Council during the Trump administration. Both detailed Trump’s inactions as the committee set out to prove how the former president knew the riot was going on but chose to do nothing about it.
Here are five main takeaways from Thursday’s eighth public hearing:
Trump could have called off the attack at any point
One thing became clear on Thursday: Donald Trump could have called off the attack at any point but was too enraged while sitting in the White House dining room watching everything unfold live. Matthews was asked if Trump wanted to call a press conference, would it have been possible?
She answered yes, saying Trump could have been in front of the camera in the briefing room in “less than a minute” if he wanted to make a statement.
Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he never heard from Trump for nearly three hours. Instead, then-Vice President Mike Pence was the person making key decisions.
“You know, you’re the commander in chief,” Milley said of Trump. “You’ve got an assault going on in the Capitol of the United States of America. And there’s nothing? No call? Nothing? Zero?”
‘We fear for our own lives’
Thursday saw disturbing video and audio released from the moment Pence was evacuated from the Capitol, show how Pence’s security detail was in fear for their lives.
The committee painted a clear picture, detailing just how much danger Pence and his security team were in on January 6. A witness testified that Pence’s detail was so concerned with the rioters getting closer that they “were starting to fear for their own lives,” and that there were calls “to say goodbye to family members.”
A National Security Council official testified but was masked to shield their identity.
“Is the VP compromised? Like, I don’t know. We didn’t have visibility, but if they’re screaming and saying things, like, say goodbye to family….this is going to a whole other level soon,” the national security official said.
The committee can back up Hutchinson’s story
After Cassidy Hutchinson’s explosive testimony a few weeks ago, questions began to swirl if anyone can confirm her story and the committee said Thursday that they can.
Rep. Elaine Luria said the committee has information from two additional sources to corroborate Hutchinson’s testimony that Trump lunged at his Secret Service detail in the motorcade. She added the source is “a former White House employee with national security responsibilities.”
The other witness was retired Washington, DC, police Sgt. Mark Robinson, who said in a video testimony that Trump had a “heated” discussion with his detail about going to the Capitol.
Trump supporters were loyal to the end
When Donald Trump speaks, his supporters listen. And the committee made that clear Thursday with video evidence.
“I worked on the campaign, I traveled around the country going to countless rallies with him,” said Matthews. “I see the impact that his words have on his supporters. They latch onto every tweet and word that he says.”
Trump sent a tweet at 2:24 p.m. saying Pence lacked the “courage to do what should have been done,” witnesses confirmed. This tweet was read at the Capitol by rioters, which prompted those “hang Mike Pence” chants. The Oath Keepers saw Trump’s 2:38 p.m. tweet telling them not to attack the police.
“Trump just tweeted, ‘Please support our Capitol Police. They are on our side. Do not harm them,’” one Oath Keeper said.
‘I don’t want to say the election is over’
The committee played the unedited footage of Trump’s videotaped address from the White House on Jan. 7. Trump became upset when he read a line saying, “This election is now over.” He stopped and told his staff, “I don’t want to say the election is over. I just want to say, ‘Congress has certified the results without saying the election is over, OK?’”
“One day after he incited an insurrection based on a lie, President Trump still could not say that the election was over,” Luria said.