This week’s hearing of the special House committee on the Jan. 6, 2021 siege of the U.S Capitol will look at what then-President Donald Trump was doing as the attack unfolded, a Republican panel member said Sunday.
The public hearing, set for prime time Thursday, will be the panel’s eighth since the series began last month.
“We’re going to really focus on what was the president doing from, in essence, the moment the insurrection started until he finally, hours later, put out the tweet that said we shouldn’t do anything like this,” Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois said on ABC’s “This Week.”
“What was the president doing during that time?” Kinzinger said. “The rest of the country knew that there was an insurrection. The president obviously had to have known there was an insurrection. So where was he? What was he doing?”
Between the start of the attack, which came as lawmakers were certifying the 2020 presidential election, and Trump’s tweet urging calm, the ex-commander-in-chief sent a tweet appearing to condone the siege, he said.
“It’s a very important hearing. Pay attention,” Kinzinger said. “I think it goes to the heart of, what is the oath of a leader?”
Former Trump aide Steve Bannon, meanwhile, signaled to the panel that he is now willing to testify, according to an email obtained by the Guardian newspaper.
An attorney for Bannon, who faces criminal charges for refusing to answer a subpoena, wrote the email to the committee Saturday indicating he was open to setting up a time and location to talk about the siege.
“Mr. Bannon has not had a change of posture or of heart,” wrote the lawyer, Robert Costello. “[C]ircumstances have now changed.”
Trump reportedly has given Bannon the green light to cooperate, saying he would “waive” executive privilege for his former aide.
Since the outset of the investigation, Trump has cited that privilege to claim former staffers like Bannon didn’t have to cooperate, though the House committee and federal lawyers reject that contention.
The panel has argued that Bannon, who left the White House in the first year of Trump’s presidency, was acting as a private citizen when he advised the former president during the buildup to Jan. 6.
“When you first received the Subpoena to testify and provide documents, I invoked Executive Privilege. However, I watched how unfairly you and others have been treated, having to spend vast amounts of money on legal fees, and all of the trauma you must be going through for the love of your Country, and out of respect for the Office of the President,” Trump wrote Bannon in a letter obtained by CNN.
The special House committee has yet to discuss the Bannon development, according to panel member Zoe Lofgren, a California Democrat.
“I expect that we will be hearing from him and there are many questions that we have for him,” the congresswoman said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Bannon’s trial for defying the subpoena is set for July 18, though he has been trying to delay its start.
The public hearings have produced a number of bombshell revelations about the Jan. 6 events.
Last month, former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson said Trump knew people in the crowd were armed before urging them to march to the Capitol.
Lawmakers also called on witnesses to show Trump knew his claims that the election was stolen from him were false.
It’s not clear how much Bannon will cooperate with investigators if he does sit down with them.
“The way that we have treated every single witness is the same, that they come in, they talk to the committee there,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Maryland Democrat.
“If they’re going to take a deposition, they’re sworn under oath. It’s videotaped. It’s recorded, and then we take it from there.”
With News Wire Services