Lawmakers have heard testimony from more than a dozen Republicans, many of whom previously worked for Trump, who have each painted a picture of a president willing to commit crimes to stay in office, regardless of the damage he might do to the country in the process.
Over the past month, the US House Committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack has held six public hearings on the weeks that preceded the deadly insurrectionist riot at the US Capitol, the events that occurred that day, and the aftermath that followed.
The bipartisan committee has relied heavily on testimony from former Trump White House officials and campaign aides, the president’s allies, and Republican election officials. Each witness has painted a picture of a president willing to commit crimes to stay in office, regardless of the damage he might do to the country in the process.
The committee will continue its work during its next hearing on Tuesday at 1 p.m. EST. The hearing is expected to focus on Trump’s connections to far-right and white nationalist extremist groups and their roles on Jan. 6. That will be followed by a primetime hearing on Thursday night, which will cover Trump’s actions—or lack thereof—during the first three-plus hours of the invasion at the Capitol.
As a refresher, here’s what we’ve learned from the first six hearings:
- Numerous White House and Trump campaign officials repeatedly told the president that the 2020 election was not stolen, yet he continued to press the unfounded claim.
- Trump knew protesters were armed and still encouraged them to go to the Capitol on Jan. 6.
- Right-wing extremists were in direct communication with the White House.
- Top Trump advisors and several Republican members of Congress requested pardons for their involvement in the plot to overturn the election.
- Trump thought Vice President Mike Pence deserved to be hanged.
- Someone on Team Trump may be intimidating witnesses.
But that’s just the beginning:
Trump set the stage for the Big Lie long before November 2020.
Testimony from the second hearing chronicled the months leading up to November 2020, when Trump repeatedly told Americans he would not accept an election loss. In April 2020, he dismissed mail-in voting as rife with fraud. In a July interview with Fox News, he refused to agree to accept the election results. In August, he said the only way he’d lose is “if this election is rigged.”
Top Trump officials and allies repeatedly told him there was no fraud.
After Trump lost to President Joe Biden in November 2020, numerous White House and Trump campaign officials—including Trump’s own campaign manager Bill Stepien and former Attorney General Bill Barr—told Trump that there was no proof that the election was stolen.
“I repeatedly told the president in no uncertain terms that I did not see evidence of fraud that would have affected the outcome of the election, and frankly a year and a half later, I haven’t seen anything to change my mind on that,” Barr told the committee in a video deposition.
Trump was hell-bent on overturning the election by any means necessary.
After 60-plus lawsuits challenging election results had failed, Trump still embraced various conspiracy theories to try and stay in power—including trying to bully the Department of Justice to help him overturn the election results and attempting to install a crony loyalist to lead the department.
“Just say that the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the (Republican) congressmen,” former acting deputy attorney general Richard Donoghue recalled Trump saying.
Trump only changed course when threatened with mass resignations.
The former president also tried to pressure state lawmakers to block certification of the election results—namely by embracing the outlandish legal ideas of lawyer John Eastman, who posited the false notion that the vice president could approve alternate electors or send results back to individual states to recertify in order to hand the election to Trump and override the will of more than 81 million American voters who had elected Biden.
Members of Congress were involved in Trump’s schemes.
During the first six hearings, lawmakers learned that an aide to Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin attempted to deliver to Pence’s staff a list of false, pro-Trump electors just moments before the former vice president was set to count electoral votes on Jan. 6.
According to text messages, the Johnson staffer, Sean Riley, told Pence’s legislative director Chris Hodgson that Johnson wanted to give Pence lists of fake electors from Michigan and Wisconsin to be introduced during the counting of electoral votes that certified Joe Biden’s win. Hodgson quickly shot the idea down, telling Riley: “Do not give that to him.”
Several members of the House were also involved in efforts to overturn the election, including Reps. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, Andy Biggs of Arizona, and Matt Gaetz of Florida. Testimony also showed that Trump tried to involve the Republican National Committee in the scheme.
Trump’s lies were also a big-money con.
Trump conned his supporters out of $250 million. Between Election Day 2020 and January 2021, his campaign sent out countless fundraising pitches to his supporters, netting more than $250 million in donations. Supporters were told that money would go toward contesting election results via the “Election Defense Fund,” but in reality, no such fund existed. Most of the money went toward the “Save America PAC,” a pro-Trump PAC created after the 2020 election.
“The Big Lie was also The Big Ripoff,” said US Rep. Zoe Lofgren.
Testimony also showed the PAC made millions of dollars in contributions to other pro-Trump organizations, including those run by his former chief of staff, Mark Meadows.
The Trump Hotel Collection also received more than $200,000.
Top Trump administration officials were repeatedly warned of violence ahead of Jan. 6.
In the days leading up to Jan. 6, numerous White House officials—including Meadows—were warned about violence. The Secret Service, national security advisors, and top Justice Department officials had all received information that violence was being planned, that Trump supporters would be armed, and that there could be an invasion of the Capitol.
Cassidy Hutchinson, who served as Meadows’ chief of staff, said that she confronted Meadows on Jan. 2 about what would happen on Jan. 6. He told her that “things might get real, real bad.” .
Trump wanted to go to the Capitol and knew his supporters were armed but didn’t care.
Trump knew the crowd at his Jan. 6 rally was armed and could get violent, yet he wanted security measures removed because he knew they were not there to attack him. In fact, Trump not only wanted his armed supporters to go to the Capitol; he also attempted to join them as they sought to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election by force.
Hutchinson testified about how Trump raged about the presence of magnetometers—which are used to detect weapons—at his “Stop the Steal” rally that morning, and demanded his supporters be let in anyway, not caring that they were armed with guns, knives, and spears.
“You know, I don’t f-ing care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me. Take the f-ing mags away. Let my people in. They can march to the Capitol from here. Let the people in. Take the f-ing mags away,” Trump said, according to Hutchinson’s testimony.
She also testified that Trump was so desperate to join the mob at the Capitol—against the advice of his security detail and attorneys—that he attempted to wrench the steering wheel away from his driver and even lunged at Secret Service agent Robert Engel. Engel had advised the president that the situation at the Capitol was unstable and a security risk. Trump did not care.
“I’m the f-ing president, take me up to the Capitol now,” Trump said, according to Hutchinson’s testimony.
Trump thought Pence deserved to be hanged.
When Capitol rioters chanted “Hang Mike Pence,” on Jan. 6, White House counsel Pat Cipollone warned Meadows that they needed to do something to get Trump to stop the rioters. According to Hutchinson, Meadows responded that Trump “doesn’t want to do anything,” and said:“He thinks Mike deserves it. He doesn’t think they’re doing anything wrong.”
Trump’s anger at Pence was driven by the fact that the vice president wouldn’t illegally and single-handedly try to overturn the election results, despite Trump’s pressure campaign.
Cipollone warned Meadows that people would die and the blood would be on Meadows’ hands, but the chief of staff still refused to act.
FBI testimony from an informant also revealed that members of the Proud Boys, an extremist group that was reportedly in touch with individuals in Trump’s orbit prior to Jan. 6, would have killed Pence if given the chance.
Trump only spoke out against the Capitol invasion after a huge pressure campaign.
Trump resisted efforts to persuade him to condemn the violence on Jan. 6, and he released a statement telling supporters to go home only following enormous pressure from aides and allies.
The speech Trump delivered the following day—in which he committed to a smooth transition of power—only arrived after he was warned that his own cabinet was considering using the 25th Amendment to remove him from office.
Top Trump advisors and several Republican members of Congress requested pardons.
According to witness testimony, Meadows and Rudy Giuliani both asked for pardons relating to their involvement in the Jan. 6 planning and their efforts to attempt to overturn the 2020 election. Reps. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, Andy Biggs of Arizona, Matt Gaetz of Florida, Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, and Louie Gohmert of Texas also sought pardons, according to former Trump White House aides Cassidy Hutchinson and Johnny McEntee.
Trump’s lies led to deaths, death threats and lasting harm.
Wandrea “Shaye” Moss, a former Georgia elections worker, told the US House Committee how Trump’s lies about her and her mother—election volunteer Ruby Freeman—forced them to go into hiding, endangered Moss’ grandmother, and affected Moss’ health.
“It’s turned my life upside down. I no longer give out my business card. I don’t transfer calls. I don’t want anyone knowing my name. I don’t go to the grocery store at all,” Moss said. “It’s affected my life in a major way, in every way. All because of lies and me doing my job—same thing I’ve been doing forever.”
Freeman also testified about the devastating impact on her life.
“I get nervous when I have to give my name for food orders. I’m always concerned of who’s around me,” Freeman said. “I’ve lost my name and I’ve lost my reputation. I’ve lost my sense of security.”
Freeman said she was also forced to leave her home of two decades in early January 2021 after the FBI informed her that it was not safe for her to stay there, given the threats against her life. The trauma has lingered, affecting her to this day.
Trump’s lies also impacted Republican election officials.
Rusty Bowers, the conservative speaker of the Arizona state House, voted for Trump in 2020 but refused to help him overturn the election results. That prompted Trump supporters to harass his seriously ill daughter while she was on her deathbed in late 2020 and early 2021. She spent her final months dealing with harassment caused by the former president, Bowers has said.
Trump still poses a threat to the United States.
Republican lawyer J. Michael Luttig, a staunch conservative, testified that the threat Trump poses to American democracy is far from over.
“Today, almost two years after that fateful day in January 2021, and still Donald Trump and his allies and supporters are a clear and present danger to American democracy.” Luttig told the committee, warning that Trump and his supporters may also attempt to overturn the 2024 election.