Trump ‘lit the flame’ of US Capitol attack

A former US Capitol Police officer has been convicted for deleting messages he exchanged with a man who took part in the January 6, 2021, insurrection.

A former US Capitol Police officer has been convicted for deleting messages he exchanged with a man who took part in the January 6, 2021, insurrection. Photo: Getty

Former US president Donald Trump “lit the flame” of the shocking attack on the US Capitol after plotting to overturn the peaceful transfer of power, public congressional hearings in to the deadly riot have heard.

The hearings opened on Friday with the January 6 panel presenting a video showing even Mr Trump’s daughter Ivanka did not believe his claims of election fraud.

The January 6, 2021, riot followed shortly after the then-president gave an incendiary speech to thousands of supporters repeating his false claims of a stolen 2020 election and urging them to march on the Capitol and “fight like hell”.

“Those who invaded our Capitol and battled law enforcement for hours were motivated by what President Trump had told them: That the election was stolen and that he was the rightful president,” one of two Republicans on the committee, its vice chairwoman, Liz Cheney, said.

“President Trump summoned the mob, assembled the mob and lit the flame of this attack.”

Ms Cheney’s came just minutes into the panel’s first public hearing as it unveiled findings from an investigation that has run for nearly a year. The committee has conducted more than 1000 interviews and obtained more than 125,000 documents as part of its probe into the Capitol riot.

The hearing, which will be carried on most US TV networks, comes slightly more than 17 months after a mob of pro-Trump supporters stormed the Capitol building.

The panel showed video testimony from senior Trump White House officials, including then-vice president Mike Pence’s chief of staff.

“January 6 was the culmination of an attempted coup, a brazen attempt, as one writer put it shortly after January 6, to overthrow the government,” Democrat Bennie Thompson, the committee’s chairman, said in his opening statement.

“The violence was no accident. It was Trump’s last stand.”

Ms Cheny noted Mr Trump dismissed the threats that rioters made against Mr Pence as they stormed the Capitol. Mr Pence was there to preside over the congressional certification of the 2020 election results.

“Aware of the rioters’ chants, to ‘Hang Mike Pence’, the president responded with this sentiment: ‘Well, maybe our supporters have the right idea’,” Ms Cheney said.

In an opening speech that ran for more than half an hour, she said Mr Trump “summoned the mob, assembled the mob and lit the flame of this attack”.

Before the riot began, he told a crowd of people at a nearby rally “we’re going to have to fight much harder” shortly before supporters marched to the Capitol.

“We’re going to walk down. Anyone you want, but I think right here, we’re going to walk down to the Capitol – and we’re going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women and we’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them,” he said.

Watch the committee's shocking video footage

Source: Twitter/January 6th Committee

Even members of Mr Trump’s own administration, including then attorney-general Bill Barr – as seen in video shown by the House of Representatives select committee – rejected his claims of widespread election fraud in his loss to Joe Biden.

The hearing began with Mr Barr’s video testimony calling the fraud claims “bull—-“, an argument that had convinced Mr Trump’s daughter.

“I respect attorney-general Barr. So I accepted what he was saying,” Ivanka Trump said in videotaped testimony.

Since leaving office last year, Mr Trump has kept up his false claims his 2020 election loss was the result of widespread fraud, an assertion that has been rejected by multiple courts, state election officials and members of his own administration.

“We can’t live in a world where the incumbent administration stays in power based on its view, unsupported by specific evidence, that there was fraud in the election,” said Mr Barr, who resigned before Mr Trump left office.

Close Trump associates who have spoken to the committee include his son Donald Jr, daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner, former acting attorney-general Jeffrey Rosen, Mr Barr and senior aides to Mr Pence.

Mr Trump, who is still publicly flirting with another White House run in 2024, called the committee in a statement “political thugs”.

The hearing will also feature two in-person witnesses – US Capitol police officer Caroline Edwards, who sustained a traumatic brain injury in the attack, and Nick Quested, a filmmaker who captured footage of the far-right Proud Boys group, accused of planning the deadly attack.

Other Capitol Police officers who fought with rioters on January 6 were in the audience for the hearing.They included Officer Harry Dunn, who wore a T-shirt bearing the word “insurrection”, and Officer Michael Fanone, who was beaten and given electric shocks during the attack.

A total of six hearings are expected this month as the Democratic-led committee attempts to reverse Republican efforts to downplay or deny the violence of the attack, with five months to go until the November 8 midterm elections that will determine which party controls the House and the Senate for the following two years.

The pro-Trump mob failed to prevent Congress from certifying President Biden’s victory, attacking police and causing millions of dollars in damage.

Four people died on the day of the attack, one fatally shot by police and the others of natural causes.

More than 100 police officers were injured, and one died the next day. Four officers later died by suicide.

On Thursday, Mr Biden described the attack as “a clear, flagrant violation of the Constitution”.

“These guys and women broke the law, tried to turn around the result of an election,” he said.

– with AAP

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