The January 6 committee plans to "humiliate" Republican lawmakers who "cowered" during the Capitol riot but have since downplayed the attack, according to Rolling Stone.
The committee's prime-time hearing Thursday will focus in part on the actions of Republicans that boosted former President Donald Trump's Big Lie and sought to block the certification of election results, two sources familiar with the panel's planning told the outlet.
"They have plans to paint a really striking picture of how some of Trump's greatest enablers of his coup plot were — no matter what they're saying today — quaking in their boots and doing everything shy of crying out for their moms," one source said. "If any of [these lawmakers] were capable of shame, they would be humiliated."
The committee has already highlighted the reactions of numerous Republican lawmakers to the riot, including some that sought pardons from Trump in the wake of the attack. It's unclear which lawmakers the panel would target but some lawmakers have already had their efforts to downplay the attack blow up in their face. Rep. Andrew Clyde, R-Ga., described the Capitol riot as a "normal tourist visit" before social media users tracked down photos of him barricading a door to the House chamber and hiding behind an armed Capitol Police officer as rioters tried to break in.
Other Republicans have similarly tried to downplay the attack. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., said the riot was largely a "peaceful protest." Others have baselessly blamed the violence at the Capitol on nonexistent "antifa" members. Reps. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., and others have even suggested that FBI informants may have been responsible for the violence while casting those arrested for alleged riot offenses as political prisoners.
While the committee plans to call out certain lawmakers, the hearing is largely expected to focus on Trump's actions during and after the Capitol riot. The committee at a previous hearing revealed that Trump dismissed concerns of potential violence, demanding his aides remove metal detectors outside his rally at the Ellipse and later calling for supporters to march on the Capitol. The committee found that Trump's call for the Capitol march was premeditated, highlighting an unsent tweet draft that alerted supporters there would be a "march to the Capitol after" his speech. Another text message from rally organizer Ali Alexander also noted that Trump was "supposed to order us to capitol at the end of his speech."
The committee has also highlighted Trump's resistance to condemning the violence, including his refusal to call in the National Guard. Cassidy Hutchinson, an aide to former chief of staff Mark Meadows, testified that Trump also refused to issue a statement asking those who entered the Capitol "illegally" to leave.
Hutchinson testified that Trump wanted to include a vow to pardon supporters who stormed the Capitol in his Jan. 7 speech, which Meadows endorsed. The pardon language was ultimately scrapped after the White House counsel's office intervened, Hutchinson said.
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Trump has continued to discuss pardons for rioters since leaving office.
"If I run, and if I win, we will treat those people from Jan. 6 fairly," he said at a January rally in Houston. "And if it requires pardons, we will give them pardons, because they are being treated so unfairly."
The committee also plans to show outtakes from Trump's recorded Jan. 7 speech, in which he "resisted holding the rioters to account, trying to call them patriots, and refused to say the election was over," sources told The Washington Post.
"This is what he wanted to happen," Rep. Elaine Luria, D-Va., who is set to lead the questioning on Thursday, told the outlet. "You might have earlier on said, 'Was he incompetent? Was he someone who freezes in a moment when they can't react to something? Or was it exactly what he wanted to have happened?' And after all of this, I'm convinced that this is exactly what he wanted to have happen."
The committee aims to show that Trump wanted the violence, was responsible for it, and that his refusal to do anything about it amounts to a dereliction of duty.
"It's very clear that watching this violence was part of the plan," Luria said. "He wanted to see it unfold. And it wasn't until he realized that it was not going to be successful that he finally stood up and said something."