The next Jan. 6 hearing is Monday: What we learned from all 9 hearings this year
Corrections & Clarifications: This story has been updated to correctly identify the committee's chair, Rep. Bennie Thompson.
The curtains will soon close on Congress' 18-month investigation into the role former President Donald Trump played in the Jan. 6, 2021 U.S. Capitol attack, with the committee's closing hearing scheduled for Monday and its final report set to be released by Christmas.
The first primetime hearing, nearly six months ago,captivated its audience with promises of revelatory information about Trump's involvement in the lead up to the attack. Gripping testimony and a grim thesis from the committee evoked murmurs and sometimes tears from the crowd.
Tensions ran high during the eighth hearing, where the committee laid out Trump's choice not to act during the 187 minutes between his speech at the Ellipse and his video telling supporters to go home.
And in the ninth and final hearing, the committee made an extraordinary move: subpoenaing the former president.
Here's what we've learned in all of the congressional hearings on the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack.
A 'sprawling, multistep conspiracy'
During the first Jan. 6 committee hearing, Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., laid out a roadmap for the hearings to come.
- Members of the congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol attack argued the attack was "not a spontaneous riot," but the result of a broader conspiracy.
- "Donald Trump oversaw and coordinated a sophisticated seven-part plan to overturn the presidential election and prevent the transfer of presidential power," Cheney said during the first hearing.
- Trump's own advisers and family members didn't believe in his efforts to overturn the election. The rift caused by that became apparent during the Jan. 6 attack, when the former president ignored pleas by his top aides and staff to call off the rioters, according to committee members.
What we learned from Capitol Police
Officers from the U.S. Capitol Police and D.C. Metropolitan Police forces attended the first Jan. 6 hearing, at which Capitol Police officer Caroline Edwards gave testimony to the committee about the Capitol attack.
- Edwards, who held back rioters from the Capitol on Jan. 6, painted a harrowing picture of the violence that unfolded on Jan. 6, 2021, describing it as akin to "something I had seen out of the movies." "I couldn’t believe my eyes," Edwards said. "There were officers on the ground. They were bleeding. They were throwing up ... I saw friends with blood all over their faces. I was slipping in people’s blood. I was catching people as they fell. It was carnage. It was chaos.”
- One officer whose condition stood out to Edwards in particular was Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick's. Sicknick died on Jan. 7, the day after the attack from strokes ruled by natural causes. Edwards told the committee that Sicknick turned ghostly white after being sprayed with chemicals while clashing with rioters.
- Capitol Police and D.C. Metro Police officers who defended the Capitol on Jan. 6 were frequent attendees of the Jan. 6 hearings. U.S. Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn, D.C. Metropolitan Police Officer Daniel Hodges, U.S. Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell and D.C. Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone all made appearances, plus Erin Smith, Serena Liebengood and Sandra Garza – all widows of officers who died in the aftermath of Jan. 6.
Trump knew he lost the election
Trump launched a disinformation campaign about the results of the 2020 election, despite knowing he lost the race, and financially benefitted from it, the committee argued in the second hearing.
- In the second hearing, the Jan. 6 committee revealed evidence that proved Trump knew he lost the 2020 election but continued a disinformation campaign about the results regardless.
- Cheney said that the former president "knew before the election" that mail ballots – crucial in battleground states Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin – would favor Biden. Testimony from Trump allies, like former Attorney General Bill Barr, revealed that Trump's advisers told him that his election fraud claims were baseless, and that he ignored them. "All the early claims that I understood were completely bogus and silly and usually based on complete misinformation," Barr said in a videotaped deposition.
- Committee members argued that Trump raised $250 million from campaign donors to continue fighting the results of the 2020 election, despite knowing his claims were false. But that money didn't go toward supporting litigation; it went to a Trump-backed political action committee called Save America PAC, which in turn, gave $1 million to Meadows' charitable organization, $1 million to a policy institute that employs several former Trump officials and more than $200,000 to the "Trump Hotel collection," the committee said. "So not only was there the big lie, there was the big rip-off," said Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., who is one of the committee members.
Trump and his allies initiated a pressure campaign against former Vice President Mike Pence in hopes that he would assist them in overturning election results in several states, the committee argued in the third hearing.
- Evidence revealed in the third Jan. 6 hearing showed a concerted effort by Trump and his allies to use slates of fake electors in battleground states to overturn the 2020 election. The plan, based on a debunked legal theory, relied on key states to find Trump-supporting electors and on Pence to toss out the real electors.
- Trump was informed that the "scheme" was unconstitutional before Jan. 6 and went through with it anyways, testimony to the committee revealed. Greg Jacob, a lawyer and former chief legal counsel for Pence, said "it is unambiguous that the vice president does not have the authority to reject electors."
- Retired conservative Judge Michael Luttig, who advised Pence on his actions, told the committee that "there was no basis in the Constitution or laws of the United States at all with the theory espoused by Mr. Eastman. At all. None." Pence relayed that to Trump “many times” and “very consistently,” Marc Short, Pence's chief of staff, said in a videotaped deposition.
- The committee showed evidence in the seventh Jan. 6 hearing that revealed Trump incited his supporters against Pence. Trump instructed a speechwriter to "REINSERT THE MIKE PENCE LINES" in an email, sent after the former president called Pence a "wimp" for refusing to comply with the electors scheme. While ransacking the Capitol, rioters sought out Pence.
Pressuring state officials
State officials also faced heat from Trump and his supporters, the committee revealed in the fourth Jan. 6 hearing. The president pressured numerous officials in several key states to help overturn the election results in their states to favor the former president.
- In the fourth Jan. 6 hearing, state election officials described the threats they received after Trump pressured them to help overturn the 2020 election results. Shaye Moss, a registration official in Fulton County, Georgia, described receiving social media attacks and death threats that turned her life upside down. “I haven’t been anywhere at all. I gained about 60 pounds. I don’t do nothing anymore, I don’t want to go anywhere. I second-guess everything that I do,” Moss told the committee. “It’s affected my life in a major way. Every way. All because of lies.”
- Republican officials from Arizona, Michigan and Pennsylvania recounted a pressure campaign by Trump and his allies to flip the results from states supporting Biden, including directing thousands of supporters to direct calls toward their offices and homes.
- Pennsylvania House Speaker Bryan Cutler's phone number ended up online, causing their phone to ring at all hours of the night; they had to disconnect it. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said Trump's followers broke into his daughter-in-law's home. And Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers testified that protesters outside his home played videos and blared claims over loudspeakers that he was corrupt and a pedophile. The state officials testified that Trump's election fraud claims are untrue.
Pressuring the Justice Department
Justice Department officials weren't left out of the former president's efforts to overturn the election, according to testimony and evidence revealed in the fifth hearing.
- The fifth Jan. 6 hearing focused on Trump's attempts to pressure the Justice Department into advancing his false election fraud claims. Jeffrey Rosen, former acting attorney general, testified to the Jan. 6 committee that Trump called or met with him and Richard Donoghue, the former acting deputy attorney general, on Dec. 15, 2020, and almost every day after he started in the post, from Dec. 23 to Jan. 3, 2021. Donoghue testified that the theme of the meetings was the same: "Just say it was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the Republican congressmen."
- The former president suggested replacing Rosen with Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Clark, who drafted a letter urging officials in six states won by Biden to submit a different group of electors who supported Trump. Other administration lawyers rejected the idea as “asinine” and potentially criminal. Trump relented only after Donoghue and other top Justice Department and White House lawyers threatened to resign in protest.
- Rosen testified that during the Capitol attack and after he was on the phone “more or less nonstop” with top administration officials and leaders in Congress – but not Trump. Rosen spoke to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif; House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif; Vice President Mike Pence, twice; and other lawmakers during the “dire situation,” he said.
Lawmakers helped Trump
Trump didn't act alone, according to testimony and evidence from the fourth and fifth hearings. A number of federal lawmakers also made efforts to help overturn the 2020 election results and preemptively asked the former president for pardons.
- Testimony in hearings four and five revealed that federal lawmakers helped Trump in his efforts to overturn the election. Bowers, the Arizona House speaker, told the committee that Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., called him on Nov. 30 – the day Arizona was scheduled to award electoral votes to Biden – to ask Bowers to decertify the official electors. “I said I would not,” Bowers told the committee.
- The committee showed text messages from a staffer for Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., that said the senator wanted to hand-deliver fake electors from Michigan and Wisconsin to Pence, just minutes before a joint session of Congress began counting the electoral votes Jan. 6, 2021. Chris Hodgson, a Pence aide, told Johnson's aide not to give Pence the alternate slate.
- Cassidy Hutchinson, an aide to former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, told the committee that a number of Republican lawmakers sought pardons from the White House after the Capitol riot. Those lawmakers were Reps. Andy Biggs of Arizona, Mo Brooks of Alabama, Matt Gaetz of Florida, Louie Gohmert of Texas and Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, she said.
Trump knew Jan. 6 violence was likely
The violence that unfolded on Jan. 6, 2021, didn't come out of nowhere, testimony and evidence from the Jan. 6 committee's sixth hearing determined. Trump knew that some people in the crowd had weapons and encouraged staffers to let them in regardless.
- The morning of Jan. 6, police reported seeing men armed with AR-15-style rifles and Glock-style pistols walking near the Ellipse, the committee said. Hutchinson, Meadows' former aide and the star witness of the Jan. 6 committee's explosive sixth hearing, testified that she overheard Trump tell staffers that he didn't care whether people had weapons because "they're not here to hurt me." He urged staffers to "let the people in" and remove the metal detectors slowing down the crowd.
- In a taped deposition, Hutchinson recalled hearing the words "Oath Keepers" and "Proud Boys" when Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani was around closer to the planning of the Jan. 6 rally.
- Giuliani told Hutchinson on Jan. 2, 2021, that Trump planned to go to the Capitol. White House counsel Pat Cipollone warned Hutchinson that Trump could be charged with inciting a riot. "Please make sure we don’t go up to the Capitol, Cassidy,” Hutchinson said Cipollone told her on Jan. 6. “Keep in touch with me. We’re going to get charged with every crime imaginable if we make that movement happen.”
Throughout his time in office, and leading up to and on Jan. 6, the former president threw fits when things didn't go his way, according to testimony from the sixth hearing.
- Hutchinson told the committee that Trump acted erratically several times on and leading up to Jan. 6. She said that Anthony Ornato, who served as deputy chief of staff for operations, told her that Trump, sitting in the back of his car, reached forward to grab the steering wheel on Jan. 6 in frustration that he wasn’t being taken to the Capitol. "The president said something to the effect of: ‘I am the f---ing president. Take me up to the Capitol now,'" Hutchinson quoted Ornato as telling her. In the eighth hearing, two separate witnesses, including a protected witness, confirmed to the committee that there was a heated discussion in Trump’s motorcade during the Jan. 6 riot.
- After reading an interview published in the Associated Press on Dec. 1, 2020, in which former Attorney General Bill Barr said he found no evidence of widespread voter fraud, Trump was furious, Hutchinson said. She said she saw a broken porcelain plate and “ketchup dripping down the wall” in the White House dining room. “The valet had articulated that the president was extremely angry at the Attorney General's AP interview and had thrown his lunch against the wall,” Hutchinson said.
- Trump through several other tantrums during his time in office, according to Hutchinson. “There were several times throughout my tenure with the chief of staff that I was aware of either him throwing dishes or flipping the tablecloth to let all the contents of the table go onto the floor and likely break or go everywhere,” she said.
Meetings on election fraud claims raised tensions
A number of December 2020 meetings over Trump's election fraud claims resulted in high tensions in the White House, testimony and evidence revealed in the seventh Jan. 6 hearing revealed.
- Testimony from the seventh Jan. 6 committee hearing revealed that Trump’s personal lawyers, Giuliani and Sidney Powell, plus retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, verbally attacked staffers during a rowdy Oval Office meeting Dec. 18, 2020. Among those attacked was Cipollone, then-White House counsel. Giuliani used an epithet to accuse White House lawyers of lacking the courage to pursue the administration’s election fraud allegations, while the lawyers hit back asking what evidence the outside advisors had for said fraud.
- After the heated meeting, Giuliani had to be escorted out of the White House by Meadows, then-White House chief of staff. Hutchinson, the Meadows aide, took a picture of the moment. Raskin, one of the committee members, said the escort ensured Giuliani didn’t “wander back into the mansion.”
- Days earlier, during a luncheon at the Trump International Hotel on Dec. 16, 2020, two outside Trump advisors – Powell and Flynn – and others drafted an executive order to have the Defense Department seize voting machines, which they said contributed to fraud, according to the committee. The order would have also appointed Powell a special counsel to investigate election fraud. It was never implemented.
Extremist organizations' involvement
Extremist groups like the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys mobilized and focused in on Jan. 6, 2021, after actions taken by the former president, testimony and evidence from the seventh hearing showed.
- A Dec. 19, 2020, tweet from Trump told his supporters to travel to D.C. ("be there - will be wild") on Jan. 6. After that, extremist groups like the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys, whose members have been charged with seditious conspiracy in the attack, joined forces to protest the election's results, according to evidence presented by the committee.
- Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., said in the seventh hearing that the former president's tweet created a "laser-like focus" on Jan. 6; before then, there was no plan or single day that his supporters planned to come to the nation's capital.
- Following Trump's tweet, Twitter and far-right website posts focused violent rhetoric around that date. Users wrote about the tunnels under the Capitol complex, how to target Congress members and which ones, saying they were "ready to die for their beliefs."
A rioter's perspective
In testimony to the Jan. 6 committee, a rioter shared the reason he attended the rally and why he no longer believes Trump's false claims of election fraud. The rioter apologized to police officers who defended the Capitol on Jan. 6 after his testimony.
- Stephen Ayres, an Ohioan who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, testified before the committee during the seventh hearing. He told the committee that he was "pretty hardcore" consuming misinformation about the election via social media and thought Trump would join protesters at the Capitol.
- Ayres pled guilty to disruptive conduct in the Capitol on June 8. He said he lost his job and that the riot "changed my life and not for the good." But, he no longer believes Trump's false claims of election fraud and said that he might not have participated in the Capitol riot if he had known Trump's election fraud evidence was bunk, which "“makes me mad, I was hanging onto every word he said.”
- After the hearing, Ayres apologized to Hodges of the D.C. Metropolitan Police and Gonell of the U.S. Capitol Police for his participation in the attack. Hodges told USA TODAY in an interview that he asked Ayres whether he was sorry for his participation in the riot, to which Ayres responded "yes." "I said ‘I hope so.’" Hodges said. "That’s about all I can do right now.”
Pence on Jan. 6
The former president’s actions from the White House directly endangered Pence at the Capitol, committee members argued in the eighth hearing. His detail feared for their lives as Trump continued to berate the former vice president.
- A tweet from Trump at 2:26 p.m. saying that Pence “didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done” caused the former vice president to be evacuated for a second time inside the Capitol as violence escalated. The committee showed surveillance footage of Pence and his security team returning to hiding inside the Capitol, coming within 40 feet of rioters.
- As the attack was underway, Pence’s Secret Service detail feared for their lives, according to testimony and evidence revealed by the committee. Testimony from an anonymous White House security official to the committee described calls for Secret Service agents to say goodbye to family members. "For whatever the reason was on the ground, the VP detail thought that this was about to get very ugly,” the anonymous official said, adding that the calls were so “disturbing" that they “didn’t like talking about it.”
- Later on Jan. 6, 2021, Trump told a White House employee that Pence “let him down” during the riot. The former president said nothing about the attack.
Trump on Jan. 6
Testimony and evidence revealed in the eighth hearing gave insight into what the former president was doing on Jan. 6 as the Capitol was breached: nothing, the committee said.
- As a mob of pro-Trump rioters sieged the Capitol, Trump was glued to the television in the White House dining room for almost three hours, watching Fox News. Cipollone, the former White House attorney, told the committee that several Trump advisers and family members asked the former president to make a “strong statement” condemning the attack but that he ignored their pleas. Sarah Matthews, a former Trump deputy press secretary who testified Thursday before the committee, said it would have taken "probably less than 60 seconds" for Trump to walk to the White House press briefing room to deliver remarks.
- As the attack unfolded, the Pentagon called the White House to coordinate a response to the riot. Former Senior Advisor Eric Herschmann told Cipollone that Trump “didn’t want anything done,” so Cipollone took the call himself, according to his video testimony played Thursday.
- The riot gave Trump the delay in the vote certification he wanted, the committee argued. While in the White House dining room watching the attack unfold, Trump called multiple senators and encouraged them to delay the certification of electoral votes. The committee does not know which senators Trump called because those calls were not logged, Rep. Elaine Luria, D-Va., said in the hearing.
Miss Day 9 of the Jan. 6 hearings?:Trump subpoenaed, Secret Service warnings revealed
Pelosi and other Congressional leaders captured in footage during Jan. 6 attack
Testimony and video evidence revealed during the ninth hearing showed congressional leaders pleading for help at the Capitol on Jan. 6.
- Previously unreleased – and dramatic – footage presented by the committee showed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi reacting to the violence at the Capitol. “It’s just horrendous, and all at the instigation of the president of the United States,” Pelosi said in the video.
- Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., called acting Attorney General Jeff Rosen, demanding he tell Trump to call off the protesters and pleading for National Guard troops from Maryland and Virginia to help Capitol Police.
- An aide testified that, during the attack, Trump told Republican House Leader Kevin McCarthy that the rioters were members of the left-wing group Antifa. “No, they’re your people,” McCarthy told Trump, the aide said.
What Trump knew
Trump acknowledged he lost the 2020 election shortly after it ended and was continuously alerted to the violence unfolding at the Capitol, but did not try to stop it, the committee said during the ninth hearing. The committee voted to subpoena the former president.
- Alyssa Farah, a former White House communications director, told the committee that a week after the election was called, she “popped in the Oval (Office)” and that Trump said: “Can you believe I lost to this f-ing guy?" Documents displayed by the committee also showed Trump's allies planned well before the 2020 presidential election to declare victory no matter the outcome.
- Once Trump returned to the White House as the violence at the Capitol escalated, there was a worry he would return to lead his supporters, according to Secret Service agents and White House officials.
- The hearing closed with a unanimous vote to subpoena the former president, an extraordinary move. "(Trump) must be accountable" Thompson, the committee chair, said. "He is required to answer for his actions."
Contributing: Joey Garrison, Bart Jansen