The House select committee investigating the Capitol attack will unveil new evidence at Watergate-style public hearings this week showing Donald Trump and top aides acted with corrupt intent to stop Joe Biden’s certification, according to sources close to the inquiry.
The panel intends to use the hearings as its principal method of revealing potential crimes by Trump as he sought to overturn the 2020 election results, the sources said, in what could be a treacherous legal and political moment for the former president.
As the justice department mounts parallel investigations into the Capitol attack, the select committee is hoping that the previously unseen evidence will leave an indelible mark on the American public about the extent to which Trump went in trying to return himself to the Oval Office.
“They’re important for setting a record for posterity, but they’re also important for jolting the American public into realizing what a direct threat we had coming from the highest levels of government to illegitimately install a president who lost,” Norman Ornstein, a political scientist and emeritus scholar at the conservative thinktank the American Enterprise Institute, said of the hearings.
The panel’s ambitions for the hearings are twofold, the sources said: presenting the basis for alleging Trump broke the law and placing the Capitol attack in a broader context of efforts to overturn the election, with the ex-president’s involvement as the central thread.
At their heart, the hearings are about distilling thousands of communications between top Trump White House aides and operatives outside the administration and the Trump campaign into a compelling narrative of events about the events of 6 January, the sources said.
In order to tell that story, the sources said, the select committee intends to have its senior investigative counsels reveal previously secret White House records, photos and videos that will be presented, in real time, to starkly illustrate the live witness testimony.
On Thursday night, at the inaugural hearing at 8pm, the panel’s chairman, Bennie Thompson, and the vice-chair, Liz Cheney, are likely to make opening arguments, outline a roadmap for the hearings, and give an overview of the events of 6 January, and the preceding weeks.
The panel is likely to focus on broad themes for the following four hearings, such as how Trump used false claims of voter fraud to undermine the 2020 election and future races, and how he tried to use fake electors to deceive Congress into returning him to office.
House investigators are also likely to focus on how Trump directly pivoted to the 6 January congressional certification – and not the December deadlines for states to certify their electors – as an inflection point, and how his actions led straight to militia and far-right groups’ covert maneuverings.
The panel is then likely to reserve its most explosive revelations for the final hearing in prime time, where the select committee members Adam Kinzinger and Elaine Luria are expected to run through Trump’s actions and inactions as the 6 January attack unf…