Capitol Hill Riots: Major Takeaways From 2nd US House Select Committee Hearing

The second hearing on the attack showed that Trump's aides told him his claims of election fraud were false.

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The United States House Select Committee investigating the US Capitol Hill riots that broke out on 6 January 2021 had its second hearing on Monday, 13 June, during which it showed how former US President Donald Trump refused to listen to his campaign advisors, who told him categorically that he had lost the 2020 presidential elections.

Instead, Trump took to his attorney Rudy Giuliani to file false claims that the 2020 election was "stolen" by incumbent President Joe Biden.

The bipartisan House Select Committee was formed to investigate Trump's role in the riots that broke out at Capitol Hill on 6 January last year.

Monday's hearing was one witness short, but the testimonies included that of a former Fox News Digital politics editor, a former Republican election official, a former US attorney, and a conservative lawyer. Their testimonies indicated that they believed President Joe Biden was the clear winner of the 2020 elections and that Trump's claims of fraud were baseless, reported CNN.

Some of the key takeaways from Monday's hearing shed light on Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election, in addition to decoding his role in the violence at Capitol Hill last year.


Committee Adapts To Absence of Witness

Many observers were taken by surprise on Sunday, 12 June, to learn that Trump's campaign manager Bill Stepien would appear in person for Monday's hearing. However, Stepien found out Monday morning that his wife went into labour, and was not able to appear for the hearing, according to CNN.

After a 45-minute delay, lawmakers and committee staff played the existing video clips from Stepien's private deposition. Videos from his testimony were also played in front of the committee, which had new snippets about his conversations with Trump and how he advised the then president to wait until declaring victory on election night.

Stepien's absence gave the Democratic-run committee control over the video clips they played from his deposition. It eliminated possible pushback against the committee that may have emerged had Stepien been at the hearing in person.

'Detached From Reality': Former Attorney General William Barr

When in office, the Democrats had accused former attorney general William Barr of helping the Justice Department do Trump's bidding, peddling right-wing conspiracy theories, and hindering the Russia investigation. However, it appears that Barr had condemned Trump's lies about the 2020 election.

Barr said that Trump's theories were "idiotic," "detached from reality," and "amateurish." He derided Trump-backed claims on "illegal vote dumps" in Detroit and country-wide vote-rigging by Dominion Corporation and its election machines.

Barr still remains a hardline conservative having recently said in interviews with media organisations such as Fox News that the Trump-Russia investigation was a "hoax" spread by the FBI and Democratic operatives.

Trump Peddled Fraud Claims in Bad Faith: Committee

A major area of focus of Monday's hearing was to harp on the notion that Trump and some of his allies peddled false claims of election fraud even after they were told those claims were illegitimate.

The committee argued that Trump's top officials, including Stepien and Barr, continued to advise the former president that the variety of fraud claims he was pushing was baseless and that there was no clear evidence that the election was stolen.

"I specifically raised the Dominion voting machines, which I found to be among the most disturbing allegations – disturbing in the sense that I saw absolutely zero bases for the allegations, but they were made in such a sensational way that they obviously were influencing a lot of people, members of the public."
William Barr, Former Attorney General, Trump Presidency

Committee Links Fraud & Violence

The committee brought its second hearing to an end by drawing a link between the Capitol Hill violence and Trump's false election claims. Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson showed a video of those who breached Capitol Hill last year believing the fraud claims made by Trump.

Trump's supporters in this video shared that they believed the claims about Dominion software and also the theory that Trump's votes were not counted.

The hearings planned for this week will dive deep into Trump's pressure campaign against the Justice Department and his Vice President Mike Pence.

(With inputs from CNN, CNN Politics, CNBC)

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Topics:  Capitol Hill 

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