By Patricia Zengerle
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The congressional inquiry into the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol by then-President Donald Trump’s supporters enters a new phase next week, kicking off a series of public hearings with a prime-time presentation aimed at focusing attention on that day’s violence.
The House of Representatives Select Committee investigating the attacks announced on Thursday that the first hearings will be held on June 9 starting at 8 p.m. EDT (0000 GMT June 10). Additional hearings are set for June 13, 15, 16, 21 and June 23, according to media reports.
The committee, with seven Democrats and two Republicans, has spent much of the past year investigating the events preceding and driving the attack by thousands of Trump supporters, who stormed the building in a failed bid to prevent Congress from formally certifying his 2020 election loss to now-President Joe Biden. Shortly before the riot, Trump delivered an incendiary speech to supporters repeating his false claims that the election was stolen from him through widespread voting fraud and exhorting them to march on the Capitol and “fight like hell.”
The panel has conducted more than 1,000 interviews, including many with close Trump associates and members of his family, former White House aides and some Republican lawmakers, about the riot and events leading up to it. It has collected more than 125,000 records related to what the committee has called a conspiracy to overthrow the government.
The investigation has focused on efforts by Trump and associates to promote his false election claims, with committee members contending that the fate of American democracy is at stake. The committee has also looked into security issues that allowed the breach of the Capitol by the pro-Trump mob.
Trump, who has not yet announced whether he will seek the presidency again in 2024, has denied wrongdoing and has accused the Democratic-led committee of engaging in a political attack. Trump also has criticized Representative Liz Cheney, the panel’s Republican vice chair. The House’s top four Republican leaders, who all voted in favor of overturning the 2020 election results just hours after the Capitol riot, refused to cooperate with the committee.
The attack forced Trump’s vice president, Mike Pence, members of Congress, visitors and staff to flee, fearing for the lives, delaying the election certification for hours.
Four people died that day, one fatally shot by police and the others of natural causes. More than 100 police officers were injured, one dying the next day. Four officers later committed suicide. The Capitol sustained millions of dollars in damage.
The hearings are planned five months before midterm elections in which Biden’s fellow Democrats are seeking to prevent Republicans from regaining control of Congress.
(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Will Dunham and Scott Malone)