WATCH LIVE: House Jan. 6 panel hearing on Trump, extremists

This is the seventh hearing in a row, presenting numerous blockbuster revelations from the January 6 committee.

WASHINGTON — The January 6 committee focused Tuesday on how violent right-wing extremists responded to Donald Trump’s tweet for a major Washington rally as a “call to arms” as the panel probed into whether they were in league with White House allies in the deadly US Capitol colluded to attack and attempt to overthrow the 2020 presidential election.

The panel investigating the January 6, 2021 Capitol siege is looking at the so-called final stages of Trump’s multifaceted effort to halt Joe Biden’s victory. As dozens of lawsuits and false allegations of voter fraud fizzled out, Trump met with attorneys at the White House late into the night of December 18 before tweeting the invitation to the rally — “Be there, will be wild!” Members of the Proud Boys – and Oath Keepers groups, now facing rare sedition charges, readily responded.

“This tweet served as a call to action — and in some cases, a call to arms,” ​​said a panel member, Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla.

Tuesday’s hearing is the seventh for the Jan. 6 committee. Last month, the panel created a narrative about a defeated Trump who is “detached from reality,” clinging to false claims of voter fraud and working feverishly to reverse his election defeat. It all culminated in the attack on the Capitol, the committee says.

The panel featured new video testimony from Pat Cipollone, Trump’s former White House Counsel, who recalled the explosive nightly White House meeting when Trump’s outside legal team introduced a draft executive order to seize states’ voting machines — a “terrible idea.” he said.

“That’s not how we do things in the United States,” Cipollone testified.

Cipollone and other White House officials scrambled to intervene in the late night meeting Trump had with attorneys Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani, retired national security adviser Michael Flynn and the head of online retailer Overstock. It erupted in screams and screams, another helper testified.

“Where is the evidence?” Cipollone asked of the false allegations of voter fraud.

“I thought what they were proposing was crazy,” said another White House official, Eric Herschmann.

But Trump was intrigued, essentially telling his White House attorneys that at least Powell and outside allies were trying to do something.

“You guys aren’t tough enough,” Giuliani recalled in a video statement to the president, which he told White House attorneys. “You guys are p—” he said, using rough language.

As night fell, Trump tweeted a call for supporters to come to Washington on Jan. 6 when Congress would review Electoral College results. “Be there. Will be wild,” Trump wrote.

The extremists reacted immediately.

The panel featured graphic and violent text messages and played videos of right-wing figures including Alex Jones and others demonstrating that January 6th would be the day they would fight for President.

In vulgar and often racist language, the messages beaming across the far-right forums plotted the big day Trump had asked for in Washington. It would be a “red wedding,” one said, a nod to mass killings. “Bring handcuffs.”

Several members of the US Capitol Police who had fought the mob that day sat in the front row of the committee room, their faces frozen.

“The problem of politicians instigating mob violence to destroy fair elections is constitutional democracy’s oldest domestic enemy,” MP Jamie Raskin, D-Md., said in his opening remarks.

Jason Van Tatenhove, an ally of Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes, was expected to testify in person. Another witness should be Stephen Ayres, who pleaded guilty to disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building last month. He has said that on Jan. 2, 2021, he posted an image that said Trump “urges us to return to Washington for a major protest on Jan. 6.”

The committee is investigating whether the extremist groups, including the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers and QAnon supporters who previously rallied for Trump, coordinated with White House allies for Jan. 6. The Oath Keepers have denied there was any plan to storm the Capitol.

It’s the only listening set for this week as new details emerge. An expected Thursday prime-time hearing has been postponed for the time being.

This week’s session comes after former White House staffer Cassidy Hutchinson delivered stunning reports under oath about an irate Trump knowingly sending armed supporters into the Capitol on Jan. 6 and then refusing to quickly recall them as the Violence erupted and sided with the rioters, menacingly searching for Vice President Mike Pence.

Trump said Cassidy’s report was not true. But Cipollone at Friday’s private session did not contradict earlier statements. Raskin said the panel plans to use “many” of Cipollone’s statements.

On Dec. 29, the leader of the Proud Boys posted a message on social media, saying that the members planned to “perform in record numbers on Jan. 6,” according to a federal indictment.

The group planned to meet at the Washington Monument, and its members were instructed not to wear the traditional colors of black and yellow, but to be “incognito.”

The Proud Boys have said their membership has grown after Trump refused to directly condemn the group during his first debate with Biden, instead telling them to “stand back and stand by.”

On the night before Jan. 6, Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio met with Oath Keepers leader Rhodes in an underground parking garage, court filings show, along with images released by a documentary filmmaker stalking the group made available to the board.

The Oath Keepers had also organized for Jan. 6, according to court documents, and set up a “rapid response force” at a nearby Virginia hotel.

After the Capitol siege, Rhodes called someone with an urgent message for Trump, another group member said. Rhodes was denied the opportunity to speak to Trump but urged the person on the phone to tell the Republican president to call on militias to fight to keep the president in power.

A lawyer for Rhodes recently told the committee that he wanted to testify publicly. Rhodes has already been questioned privately by the committee and it is unlikely the panel will agree.

The panel also intends to note that many of the Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol appeared to be QAnon believers. Federal authorities have specifically linked at least 38 rioters to the pro-Trump conspiracy theory, according to an Associated Press review of court records.

One of the most prominent figures in the attack was a shirtless Arizona man calling himself “QAnon Shaman,” wielding a spear and wearing face paint and a Viking hat with fur and horns.

A core belief among QAnon adherents is that Trump was secretly fighting a cabal of “deep state” agents, prominent Democrats, and Hollywood elites, some of whom worship Satan and engage in child sex trafficking.

The panel has shown, over the course of the fast-paced hearings and with eyewitness accounts from the former president’s inner circle, that Trump was told “over and over” how Vice Chairwoman Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., said he had Lost the election and his allegations of voter fraud simply weren’t true. Nevertheless, Trump called his supporters to Washington and then sent them to the Capitol in what panel chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., called an “attempted coup.”

Associated Press writers Farnoush Amiri and Mary Clare Jalonick in Washington and Michael Kunzelman in College Park, Maryland contributed to this report. WATCH LIVE: House Jan. 6 panel hearing on Trump, extremists

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