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The congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol is unveiling the first details of its findings in a prime-time televised hearing. It is the culmination of nearly a year of investigation into the events on and before Jan. 6, as former President Donald Trump worked to overturn the results of the 2020 election. Lisa Desjardins joins Judy Woodruff with a preview.
The congressional committee investigating the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol is unveiling the first details of its findings tonight in a prime-time televised hearing.
It is the culmination of nearly a year of investigation into the events on and before January 6, as former President Donald Trump worked to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
President Joe Biden reflected on the committee's work earlier today.
President Joe Biden:
As I said when it was occurring and subsequent, I think it was a clear, flagrant violation of the Constitution.
I think these guys and women that broke the law tried to turn around the result of an election. And there's a lot of questions who's responsible, who's involved. I'm not going to make a judgment on that. But I just to know that — want you to know that we're going to probably be — a lot of Americans are going to be seeing for the first time some of the detail that occurred.
Tonight is just the first of a series of public hearings that will take place over the next few weeks.
Our Lisa Desjardins is at the Capitol, and she joins me now.
So, hello, Lisa.
So much anticipation about these hearings. Tell us what we should expect tonight and what are you looking for?
This is an unusual night. Obviously, January 6 itself is historically unique. So is this committee unique, and so will hearing in prime time be unique.
I think at the top of the agenda for this committee tonight will be to try and depict January 6 in very real terms. We all remember the video that we have seen. Some members of this committee are concerned that Americans no longer take it as seriously as they do here at that the Capitol. These images, as we have seen before, we're going to see more images like them tonight, but images that we have never seen before, the idea to really — the reality of the danger, make that kind of even more present in American minds tonight.
We're also seeing some interviews that the committee has been doing behind closed doors, including, we believe, with the Trump family, Trump officials, all of those things.
And all of this, Judy, the main point that the committee is going to make, one of the main points that they will preview tonight is the role of former President Trump. They will try and make a case, according to the committee aides, that this was a multistep conspiracy that led to January 6, and that President Trump himself was central to it.
Of course, the former president, his allies and Republicans here deny that. But I will tell you, it's a big night for this committee just to review what they have been doing, the work that has been under way for this committee. This is a committee that was created just over a year ago at the end of June in 2021 as — by a House vote, a vote by the full House.
And it has interviewed over 1,000 witnesses so far, issued 100 subpoenas. If you look at those subpoenas, the largest group of those are for Trump officials and those, it seems, that the committee believes helped organize that rally on January 6.
Last thing tonight, what should viewers expect? As you can hear that noise outside the Capitol probably over the microphone. Tonight, about a 90-minute hearing in prime time. We do expect a break at one point in it. There will be two live witnesses, in addition to all of the video testimony tonight.
And, of course, at the same time, Lisa, we know the vast majority of Republicans in the House voted — did not vote for this committee.
What are their leaders saying about these hearings?
I think let's look at the problem, the divide in the House by looking at the composition of the committee itself. If you look at the members of the committee, the two that you see there with the red around them, Liz Cheney, Adam Kinzinger, those are the only two Republicans who support this committee. They are sitting on it.
And if you look at all the members, these — this committee all on one mind-set. They all believe there is a conspiracy here.
But, Judy, you're right. The rest of the Republicans in the House disagree. They don't believe in this committee. They don't support it. And what they say is that this is a political act.
I want to play for you the sort of different mind-sets today from the leaders of the party, first, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and then Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy on how they see this committee and these hearings.
Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA):
The narrative of what happened, as an assault on our democracy, on our Constitution, on our Capitol, on our Congress in a very violent way.
Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA):
It is the most political and least legitimate committee in American history. It has used congressional subpoenas to attack Republicans, violate due process and infringe on the political speech of private citizens.
This is another important decision point for this country, Judy, the idea of, is January 6 and political violence still a danger for this country, which is what the hearing will try and lay out, or is it something in the past, which is what those Republicans and their leaders are saying?
And, Lisa, we know that, while all this is going on, there's yet another big issue before the Congress right now. That's gun violence in the wake of these terrible shootings in Uvalde, Texas, in Buffalo, New York.
Reminder, there was yet another shooting just today near Washington, D.C., the small town of Smithsburg, Maryland, not too far from Camp David, where presidents go on their weekends, three people killed, at least one or two wounded, reminding us again of what a big problem it is.
Lisa, what in your conversations with lawmakers and what are you seeing in the public polling about what the public wants done about gun violence?
I think public opinion is affecting the debate right now in the U.S. Senate. And we're seeing that in polling that we just got today from our "PBS NewsHour"/NPR/Marist polling, which says that almost 60 percent of Americans believe that protecting against gun violence is more important than gun rights.
Now, I'm going to drill down on specifically what people think and how that might affect politics here in the Capitol. When we asked, would you definitely vote for someone who voted for stricter gun laws, if you look at my party, huge difference; 93 percent of Democrats would vote for someone who supports stricter gun laws, just 28 percent of Republicans.
Independents, by a slim majority, want stricter gun laws in their representatives here on Capitol Hill. They're supporting them. But look at this, Judy. Look at when you look at these numbers by generation. I found this so fascinating. We are divided by our politics, but not very much by our age.
There you see Gen Z. The younger generations do by a little bit support stricter gun laws, but every other generation, also Gen X, baby boomers, also a majority, by age, support stricter gun laws. And we are seeing phone calls and those kinds of thing, I think, having an effect here on the Hill.
And, Lisa, as you were reporting in the last day or so, there has been a vote in the House of Representatives just last night.
You have been watching talks in the Senate on guns. What do you see? Where do things stand right now?
A very interesting day today.
Senator Mitt Romney of Utah came out and said that he wants the age to be raised to buy assault-style weapons. However, Senator John Cornyn of Texas, who is a leading Republican in Senate talks, said he will not allow that to happen.
But we do see progress. And I think the quiet on this, these negotiations, is a good kind of quiet. There still is a chance for something to come out of this.
And I know you are following that, along with these January 6 hearings.
Lisa Desjardins at the Capitol, thank you.
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