The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol concluded its likely final meeting before the midterm elections with a few surprises.
Spectators tuning into the nearly three-hour event Thursday saw members of the panel vote to subpoena former President Donald Trump to testify about his alleged role in fomenting the attack. Viewers were also given new revelations about the nearly 16-month congressional inquiry.
Below are five of the biggest moments from the committee’s latest hearing:
Trump subpoenaed for testimony
The nine members of the committee, seven Democrats and two anti-Trump Republicans, voted unanimously to compel the former president to testify about his conduct leading up to and during the attack.
“This is a question about accountability to the American people,” said committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss. “He’s required to answer to those millions of Americans whose votes he tried to throw out as part of his scheme to remain in power.”
Trump has previously refused to voluntarily cooperate with the panel, calling it a partisan witch hunt.
Taylor Budowich, a spokesman for former President Donald Trump, responded on social media by saying that Democrats were engaged in “partisan theatrics.”
“Today, 26 days before the Midterm Elections, America is truly a nation in decline. Inflation is out of control, the crime rate is at an all time high, and the crisis at our southern border has never been worse,” Budowich wrote in a tweet. “However, instead of using their final days in power to make life for Americans any better, Democrats are doubling and tripling down on their partisan theatrics.”
Budowich added, “Pres Trump will not be intimidate[d] by their meritless rhetoric or un-American actions. Trump-endorsed candidates will sweep the Midterms, and America First leadership & solutions will be restored. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”
“We are obligated to seek answers directly from the man who set this all in motion,” said committee member Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo. “Every American is entitled to those answers, so we can act now to protect our republic.”
Trump could fight the subpoena, which likely would tip off a legal fight with just over two months left in the current Congress — a very short time frame for such a major legal dispute. If Republicans take over the House in the midterms, it’s not expected they will continue the work of the Jan. 6 committee.
Trump planned to declare victory as early as July 2020
Trump’s one-time campaign manager, Brad Parscale, reportedly told the committee that the former president planned as early as July 2020 to declare re-election victory in November.
Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., claimed that Parscale had told the committee that Trump long planned a pre-emptive declaration of victory.
“In the course of our investigation, we also interviewed Brad Parscale, President Trump’s former campaign manager. He told us he understood that President Trump planned as early as July that he would say he won the election even if he lost,” said Lofgren.
Members of the committee also played videos of Trump allies, including Steve Bannon and Roger Stone, arguing for a pre-emptive declaration of victory.
Trump moved to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, Somalia after election loss
In the wake of the 2020 election, Trump signed a memo ordering U.S. troops to withdraw from Afghanistan and Somalia, according to witnesses who testified before the Jan. 6 committee.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., said the order proved that Trump understood that he had lost the White House and was moving to wind down the U.S. troop presence abroad before President Biden took office.
“Knowing that he had lost and that he had only weeks left in office, President Trump rushed to complete his unfinished business,” said Kinzinger. “Knowing he was leaving office, he acted immediately and signed this order on Nov. 11th, which would have required the immediate withdrawal of troops from Somalia and Afghanistan — all to be complete before the Biden inauguration on Jan. 20th.”
Military witnesses said they believed that Trump’s plan was highly reckless and would have been a debacle — just as President Biden’s Afghanistan withdrawal turned out to be in August 2021.
The committee did not detail why the order was never carried out.
Bipartisan congressional leaders urged Trump, top officials to quell the riot
The committee played video of Democratic and Republican congressional leaders urging Trump and top administration officials to act immediately to quell the riot during the height of the attack.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., were both filmed demanding former acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen to implore Trump to make a statement urging the rioters to stop.
Party leaders, including House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Senate Minority Whip John Thune, R-S.D., were also shown gathering around a phone asking federal and state officials for military help.
Jan. 6 committee to recall witnesses on alleged Trump altercation with Secret Service
Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., a member of the committee, said there were plans to recall witnesses who testified that Trump allegedly lunged at a Secret Service agent for refusing to drive him to the Capitol during the attack.
“After concluding its review of the voluminous additional Secret Service communications from Jan. 5th and Jan. 6th, the committee will be recalling witnesses and conducting further investigative depositions based on that material,” said Aguilar.
Earlier this year, former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson recounted a conversation she had with ex-Trump deputy chief of staff Tony Ornato directly after Trump’s rally in front of the Ellipse on Jan. 6.
Hutchinson said Ornato told her that Trump tried to “grab at the steering wheel” then lunged at the Secret Service agent in charge at the time because the agent wouldn’t drive Trump to the Capitol as the riot was taking place.
A source close to Ornato told Fox News’ David Spunt after Hutchinson’s testimony that Ornato was shocked when Hutchinson made the allegation about the steering wheel. That source said both Ornato and Secret Service agent Robert Engel would be willing to testify to the committee to refute that part of Hutchinson’s story.
Aguilar said on Thursday that the committee was investigating potential “obstruction” of justice related to the allegation.