6 takeaways from Jan. 6 hearing: Kinzinger said Trump ‘did not fail to act ... he chose not to act’
“The mob,” said Kinzinger, at Thursday’s Jan. 6 committee hearing, “was accomplishing President Trump’s purpose. So of course he didn’t intervene.”
WASHINGTON — “The mob,” said Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., presiding over parts of Thursday’s prime time Jan. 6 committee hearing, “was accomplishing President Trump’s purpose. So of course he didn’t intervene.”
The Jan. 6 panel on Thursday told the story about Trump’s failure to act during 187 crucial minutes on Jan. 6 — the time between the end of a rally at the Ellipse, just south of the White House, to the time Trump finally addressed the mob attacking the Capitol.
The rioters were trying to prevent Vice President Mike Pence from formalizing the election of Joe Biden as president.
The hearings started June 9 and in the Thursday session — Kinzinger, an Air Force vet and a pilot in the Air National Guard, and Rep. Elaine Luria, D- Va., a retired Navy commander, led the questioning detailing what they said was the commander-in-chief’s dereliction of duty.
1. The biggest “unveils” from the committee were the never-before-seen Trump video outtakes — including one from Jan. 7 where Trump, looking at a teleprompter, refused to read a line that said “the election is over.”
2. Kinzinger, from Channahon, made the distinction between doing nothing — it’s been established Trump was at the White House in a dining room watching Fox News riot coverage on television — and intentionally doing nothing in the hopes it would add pressure on Pence to overthrow the election.
“President Trump did not fail to act during the 187 minutes between leaving the Ellipse and telling the mob to go home. He chose not to act. But there were hundreds that day who honored their oath and put their lives on the line to protect the people inside the Capitol and to safeguard our Democracy,” said Kinzinger.
“Many of them are here tonight with us, and many more are watching from home. As you already know, and we’ll see again tonight, their service and sacrifice shines a bright light on President Trump’s dishonor and dereliction of duty.”
And to that point — the committee showed a never-before-seen outtake from a video Trump finally recorded in the afternoon, intended to be used to persuade rioters to go home. As the mob was trying to overthrow an election, Trump started the video, with a lie: “We had an election that was stolen from us. It was a landslide election and everyone knows it, especially the other side. But you have to go home now. We have to have peace. We have to have law and order.”
Then the committee ran video from 4:17 p.m. on Jan. 6 — Minute 187 — showing the violent mob at the Capitol. And a dispatcher’s voice could be heard — saying an officer is “unconscious” at the Capitol’s West Terrace. Kinzinger said Trump showed on Jan. 6 “absolutely no remorse.”
3. Chilling testimony. An anonymous former White House employee, voice disguised in audio played at the hearing, told how Secret Service agents in Vice President Mike Pence’s detail feared for their lives as the mob invaded the Capitol and called their families to say goodbye.
4. Committee vice chair Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., made it clear how this is still very much an unfolding investigation. “Doors have opened, new subpoenas have been issued, and the dam has begun to break.”
5. Cheney in her closing statement chided “the 50-, 60- and 70-year-old men who hide themselves behind Executive Privilege.” More important, she spoke directly to Republicans, noting the witnesses were not Trump’s political enemies. Their testimony was “instead, a series of confessions by Donald Trump’s own appointees, his own friends, his own campaign officials, people who worked for him for years, and his own family.”
6. Kinzinger started on his independent course as a conspiracy fighter, evolving into being one of the few Republicans willing to take on the Trump’s election denialism. Thrown into a new district with another Republican he decided not to seek another term, focusing instead on the work of the Jan. 6 committee and his “Country First” political movement, aimed at breaking Trump’s grip on the GOP party.
Kinzinger in closing warned, “The militant intolerant ideologies, the militias, the alienation and the disaffection, the weird fantasies and disinformation — they’re all still out there, ready to go. That’s the elephant in the room.”
He also said the panel will recommend changes in “laws and policies” to prevent another Jan. 6.
“But if January 6 has reminded us of anything, I pray it has reminded us of this. Laws are just words on paper. They mean nothing without public servants dedicated to the rule of law and who are held accountable by a public that believes oath matters, oath matters more than party tribalism or the cheap thrill of scoring political points.