January 6 committee to link extremist groups to Trump allies

Washington DC - The committee investigating the Capitol insurrection will focus for the first time this week on the relationship between people in former President Donald Trump’s orbit and the extremist groups that planned and orchestrated the violence on January 6, 2021.

Democratic Reps. Jamie Raskin of Maryland and Stephanie Murphy of Florida will lead the next January 6 committee hearing.
Democratic Reps. Jamie Raskin of Maryland and Stephanie Murphy of Florida will lead the next January 6 committee hearing.  © Collage: TASOS KATOPODIS / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP & Graeme Jennings / POOL / AFP

The hearing could be one of the most consequential held by the panel, potentially answering the long unresolved question of whether Trump knew that far-right extremist groups such as the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers would storm the Capitol, and whether the president was in contact through intermediaries with the groups’ leaders, who have since been indicted for seditious conspiracy.

Jamie Raskin, who will lead the hearing with Stephanie Murphy, has made clear the committee won’t present smoking-gun evidence. But he said the panel will show how the extremist groups took Trump’s announcement of a "wild" rally hours before Congress met to certify the election results as a cue to mobilize and prepare to keep him in power through any means necessary.

Never-before-seen video of the hours-long riot that temporarily paused certification of Joe Biden’s victory has been prominently featured during the committee’s first six hearings. Committee Chairman Bennie G. Thompson blamed Trump for the "carnage" that "represented Trump’s last, most desperate chance to halt the transfer of power."

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But the committee hasn’t yet drawn a direct line between Trump’s camp and those who caused the violence.

So far the hearings have largely focused on the pressure Trump and his team put on state lawmakers and Vice President Mike Pence to overturn the election results, and on the Justice Department to publicly ratify their claims of fraud.

Committee hearing will look at Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, and QAnon

The House select committee holds the third of eight planned public hearings into the January 6 attack on the US Capitol.
The House select committee holds the third of eight planned public hearings into the January 6 attack on the US Capitol.  © REUTERS

The names or number of witnesses for Tuesday’s hearing will not be announced in advance, committee aides told reporters in a briefing Monday, citing concerns about potential threats and harassment.

"The committee intends to show the American people that this was not just some random occurrence, that these groups happened to show up at the same place as the broader Stop the Steal mob," said Jon Lewis, a research fellow on domestic violent extremism at the George Washington University Program on Extremism.

"A lot of what will be distilled out by the committee will really just be showing the American people that these groups mobilized intentionally to the US Capitol, at the behest of the president, at the behest of his inner circle of advisers and hangers-on, and they were there with the intent not just to protest, not just to attend a rally, not just to provide security ... (but) with the explicit purpose of engaging in a conspiracy to prevent the peaceful transfer of presidential power."

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Committee aides said the hearing will look at ties among the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers and QAnon, along with former national security adviser Michael Flynn and Republican operative Roger Stone.

It also will examine what White House staff and advisers knew about the potential for violence and which members of Congress pressured Pence in the days before January 6 to change the election outcome.

Cover photo: REUTERS

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