Five Bombshells the Jan. 6 Panel Promised at First Hearing

The House of Representatives' select committee investigating the events of January 6, 2021, held its first televised, public hearing in prime time on Thursday and previewed the case it will lay out in the coming days.

Representative Liz Cheney, vice chair and one of just two Republican members of the committee, laid out the issues the committee will cover in the next five public hearings.

Cheney pointed the finger squarely at former President Donald Trump and explained how the committee would reveal his actions on January 6 as the Capitol riot was taking place.

Here are five things to expect from the hearings.

1. Trump Approved of 'Hang Mike Pence' Chants

In a moment that reportedly elicited gasps at the committee hearing, Cheney outlined the former president's alleged reaction to the chants of "Hang Mike Pence" that some of the protesters directed at then Vice President Mike Pence on January 6.

"Aware of the rioters' chants to 'hang Mike Pence,' the president responded with this sentiment: 'Maybe our supporters have the right idea'. Mike Pence 'deserves it,'" Cheney said.

Cheney highlighted the chants as part of her discussion of Trump's reaction to the riot, so there is likely to be more information about the former president's attitude toward Pence's refusal to overturn the 2020 election.

2. Plots to Commit 'Seditious Conspiracy'

Representative Cheney said the committee would outline plots to commit "seditious conspiracy," an offense which is defined as "conspir[ing] to overthrow, put down or destroy by force the Government of the United States, or to oppose by force the authority thereof."

"Multiple members of two groups, the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys, have been charged with this crime for their involvement in the events leading up to and on January 6. Some have pled guilty," she said.

"The attack on our Capitol was not a spontaneous riot," Cheney went on.

"Intelligence available before January 6 identified plans to 'invade' the Capitol, 'occupy' the Capitol, and take other steps to halt Congress' count of Electoral Votes that day. In our hearings to come, we will identify elements of those plans, and we will show specifically how a group of Proud Boys led a mob into the Capitol building on January 6," the Republican said.

3. Trump Planned to Replace Attorney General

Cheney said on Thursday that the committee will reveal how Trump planned to "corruptly" replace the U.S. attorney general "so the U.S. Justice Department would spread his false stolen election claims."

"In the days before January 6, President Trump told his top Justice Department officials 'Just say the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the Republican Congressmen,'" Cheney said, quoting Trump.

"Senior Justice Department officials, men he had appointed, told him they could not do that, because it was not true. So President Trump decided to replace them," she said.

Trump allegedly offered the role of attorney general to Jeff Clark, an environmental lawyer in the Department of Justice, and wanted Clark to write a letter to the state of Georgia and five other states falsely claiming the DOJ had "identified significant concerns that may have impacted the outcome of the election."

This plan led senior figures at the DOJ to confront Trump and Clark and threaten to resign.

"In our hearings, you will hear first-hand how the senior leadership of the Department of Justice threatened to resign, how the White House Counsel threatened to resign, and how they confronted Donald Trump and Jeff Clark in the Oval Office," Cheney said.

"The men involved, including Acting Attorney General Jeff Rosen and Acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue, were appointed by President Trump. These men honored their oaths of office. They did their duty, and you will hear from them in our hearings," she said.

Clark has refused to testify before the committee and invoked his Fifth Amendment rights.

4. Members of Congress Asked for Pardons

Several serving members of Congress asked then President Trump for pardons because of their role in attempting to overturn the 2020 presidential election, according to Cheney's opening statement on Thursday, including Republican Representative Scott Perry of Pennsylvania's 10th district.

"As you will see, Representative Perry contacted the White House in the weeks after January 6 to seek a presidential pardon. Multiple other Republican congressmen also sought presidential pardons for their roles in attempting to overturn the 2020 election," she said.

Cheney said that Perry had been involved in the attempt to get Jeff Clark appointed as attorney general. Perry has denied that he sought a pardon from Trump and Cheney didn't name any other Republicans who may have sought pardons.

5. John Eastman's Emails

Americans will have a chance to see emails between conservative attorney John Eastman and Gregory Jacob, former counsel to then Vice President Pence.

Eastman is viewed as the legal mind behind a strategy to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election by having Pence reject or delay the counting of Electoral College votes. He was recently ordered by a judge to hand over a trove of documents to the committee.

"And you will see the email exchanges between Eastman and the vice president's counsel as the violent attack on Congress was underway," Cheney said.

"Mr. Jacob said this to Mr. Eastman: 'And thanks to your bulls**t, we are under siege.' You will also see evidence that John Eastman did not actually believe the legal position he was taking. In fact, a month before the 2020 election, Eastman took exactly the opposite view on the same legal issues," she said.

The committee hearings will resume on Monday at 10 a.m. E.T.

Liz Cheney Capital Riots
In this combination image, A pro-Trump mob breaks into the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021 and U.S. Representative Liz Cheney looks on during a House Select Committee hearing to Investigate the January 6 attack on the Capitol on June 9, 2022. laid out the issues the committee will cover in the next five public hearings. Cheney has laid out the issues the committee will cover in the next five public hearings. Win McNamee/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP Getty Images

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