Jan. 6 Panel Readies for Prime-Time Hearings

Jan. 6 Panel Readies for Prime-Time Hearings protesters clash with police outside the u.s. capitol Protesters clash with police and security forces as people try to storm the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C on Jan. 6, 2021. (Brent Stirton/Getty Images)

By Charlie McCarthy | Monday, 06 June 2022 08:19 AM

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's partisan Jan. 6 select committee will attempt to return the nation's focus to the 2021 Capitol attack when it begins prime-time hearings this week.

The committee, comprised of Democrats and two anti-Trump Republicans, will a hold a hearing at 8 p.m. ET Thursday, when it will share findings of its monthslong investigation into events surrounding the attack.

Democrats appear intent on having the Jan. 6 events — and former President Donald Trump's actions that day — resonate in voters' minds as the November midterm elections approach.

"The goal here is to construct this narrative," Molly Reynolds, a senior fellow in governance studies with Brookings, told The Hill.

"What they want to do is go through the countless depositions that they've taken and other evidence that they gathered and figure out a way to try and convey a story to the public."

The committee has not announced who will testify at the first hearing, but has insisted it will release never before seen footage from Jan. 6.

"The committee will present previously unseen material documenting January 6th, receive witness testimony, preview additional hearings, and provide the American people a summary of its findings about the coordinated, multi-step effort to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election and prevent the transfer of power," the committee said in a statement.

The country, however, appears to be divided along party lines on how much it wants to relive Jan. 6, 2021, according to a University of Massachusetts Amherst survey.

The poll found that 52% said it was important to learn more about what happened Jan. 6, and 48% said it was "time to move on."

"We're finding in the poll that about 19% of people are purely independent. And then there's another 9% who lean Democratic and another 8% lean Republican," Jesse Rhodes, a political science professor who helped craft the UMass poll, told The Hill.

"So there is a little bit of mushiness in the middle. And those people potentially can be shifted."

Ryan Goodman, co-director of the Reiss Center on Law and Security at New York University School of Law, told The Hill that the House committee could focus on the dynamic between Trump and then-Vice President Mike Pence.

"I think the most important [thing] might be this is not perceived as a Trump versus Biden frame, which the first impeachment hearing pretty much was, but rather it imparts a Trump versus Pence framework," Goodman told The Hill. "I think that there are many people that are concerned about the direct threat to Mike Pence that occurred on Jan. 6.

"I think that captures attention in a very different way. It’s not as political or partisan."

Goodman said the committee’s makeup — Democrats, anti-Trump Republicans Reps. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., and Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill. – could help the members present their cases with little opposition.

"I do not think that the hearings are going to be anything like the circus that has existed in hearings — and the impeachment hearings — in that past in which some members of Congress were simply playing to kind of a right-wing media," Goodman said.

"And so this will be a more solemn hearing which is going to be truth seeking, [that’s] the way in which I see it. And I don’t think that hearings are going to be a source of disinformation. I think they’re going to be a source of information."

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