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14 key moments from the Jan. 6 committee hearings — so far

Rudy Giuliani's videotaped testimony appears on a video screen above members of the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol during its seventh hearing on July 12, 2022.
Anna Moneymaker
Getty Images
Rudy Giuliani's videotaped testimony appears on a video screen above members of the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol during its seventh hearing on July 12, 2022.

The Jan. 6 committee hearings have produced lots of fireworks and eye-opening moments.

Ahead of its final — at least for now — hearing in prime time Thursday, we thought we'd recap some of the standout moments made so far, as the committee has laid out its case that former President Donald Trump is responsible for the insurrection that took place.

Here are 14 key moments as the hearings played out.

1. Cheney chides GOP colleagues.

Vice Chair Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., who was stripped of her House leadership position because of her defiance of Trump, was off to the races in these hearings. She sent a clear message to her Republican colleagues on Capitol Hill in the first hearing in prime time.

"Tonight, I say this to my Republican colleagues who are defending the indefensible," she said. "There will come a day when Donald Trump is gone, but your dishonor will remain."

2. Barr tells Trump claims of election fraud were "b*******."

That pretty much sums it up.

Even Trump's daughter, Ivanka, said Barr convinced her that Biden won.

"I respect Attorney General Barr so I accepted what he said," she said.

3. "Intoxicated" Rudy Giuliani encouraged Trump to declare victory on election night.

Many of Trump's top campaign advisers, including his campaign manager, told the president not to declare victory on election night.

But, it was revealed, a "definitelyintoxicated" Giuliani disagreed and encouraged the president to go ahead and do so.

4. Pence lawyer says the vice president refused to leave the Capitol on Jan. 6.

The rioters were just 40 feet from former Vice President Mike Pence and his team, but Pence "refused to get into the car" to leave the Capitol, Pence lawyer Greg Jacob said in his testimony.

He wanted to continue the counting of the electoral votes. "The vice president did not want to take any chance that the world would see the vice president of the United States fleeing the United States Capitol," Jacob said.

The committee also revealed a chilling quote, noting that an informant from white supremacist group Proud Boys told the FBI that the group "would have killed Mike Pence if given the chance." According to former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows aide Cassidy Hutchinson, Trump said of people outside the Capitol on Jan. 6 chanting to hang Pence, that Pence "deserves it."

5. Arizona House speaker says Giuliani admitted he had no evidence of fraud.

Rusty Bowers, speaker of the Arizona state House, testified that he refused to bow to pressure from Trump and Giuliani to overturn the state's election results. In fact, at one point, Bowers said Giuliani admitted he had no evidence.

"'We have lots of theories, we just don't have the evidence,'" Bowers said Giuliani told him.

The committee detaileda fake electors scheme that had been concocted by Trump allies to try and keep Trump in power. Even Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., was involved, wanting to deliver a slate of fake electors to the vice president.

A spokesperson for Johnson said the senator "had no involvement in the creation of an alternate slate of electors and had no foreknowledge that it was going to be delivered to our office."

6/7. Election worker and former Trump supporter say their lives have been ruined.

Trump's pressure campaign ruined personal lives — and not just of his opponents.

Georgia election worker Shaye Moss fought back tears when she testified that after Trump falsely accused her of committing fraud, her life has been turned "upside down." She said she doesn't go out anymore for fear of being recognized, will no longer do her election job and has gained weight.

"I second-guess everything that I do," she said. "It's affected my life in a major way — in every way. All because of lies."

Former Trump supporter Stephen Ayres, who was at the Capitol on Jan. 6, testified in the last hearing that after pleading guilty to disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building, he lost his job and sold his house.

"It definitely, it changed my life," Ayres said, "not for the good, not for the better." And he blames Trump — and his election lie. To Trump supporters still buying the lie, Ayres said: "Take the blinders off. Make sure you see what's going on before it's too late."

8. Trump's acting attorney general says Trump wanted the machines seized.

Jeffrey Rosen, who was Trump's acting attorney general, testified that Trump wanted the Justice Department to seize voting machines. Rosen rebuffed that, said there was no problem with the machines and said there was "no legal authority" to do so.

In the latest hearing, we learned of a draft executive order dated Dec. 16, 2020, that directed the military to seize voting machines. The order was ultimately not issued.

9. Top DOJ official says Trump told him to "just say it was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the Republican congressmen."

In a desperate attempt to cling to power, Trump threw out conspiracy theory after conspiracy theory that he'd read on the internet or had been fed to him by others. Richard Donoghue, an acting attorney general under Trump, debunked them one by one, dismissing them to the Jan. 6 committee as "pure insanity."

Donoghue said when Rosen told Trump that the DOJ "can't and won't snap its fingers and change the outcome of the election," Trump said, "That's not what I'm asking you to do. What I'm asking you to do is, just say it was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the Republican congressmen."

Donoghue called that "an exact quote" from the president. And multiple witnesses said various Republican members of Congress requested pardons: Reps. Matt Gaetz of Florida, Mo Brooks of Alabama, Louie Gohmert of Texas, Andy Biggs of Arizona, and Scott Perry of Pennsylvania.

10. Trump knew supporters were armed, but he welcomed them anyway.

Many of Trump's supporters on Jan. 6 were armed, dangerous — and welcome.

In her eye-popping testimony, Hutchinson, the aide to the president's chief of staff, said Trump demanded they be let into his speech despite the security warnings.

" 'You know, I don't effing care that they have weapons,' " Hutchinson quoted the president as saying. "'They're not here to hurt me. Take the effing [magnetometers] away. Let my people in.' "

11. Hutchinson details that Trump tried to grab the steering wheel of a presidential vehicle in protest of the Secret Service refusing to drive him to the Capitol.

Hutchinson said she was told the former president grew "irate" that the Secret Service would not allow him to march to the Capitol, again, due to security concerns. When the Secret Service wouldn't drive him to the Capitol, either, Trump, she said, according to those involved, attempted to grab the steering wheel and then lunged at the agent driving it.

"'I am the effing president, take me up to the Capitol now,' " Hutchinson testified that the president said, based on what she had heard from the lead agent on Trump's detail. Hutchinson herself was not in the vehicle.

12. And that's to say nothing of the president throwing a plate of food at the wall that left ketchup dripping from it.

After Barr, Trump's former attorney general, did an interview in which he said there was no widespread fraud in the election sufficient to overturn the election, Hutchinson testified that Trump was "extremely angry.

She said she found ketchup dripping from the wall and a shattered plate on the ground of the White House dining room. Trump had apparently thrown his lunch against the wall. Hutchinson testified that she helped a staffer clean it up. That wasn't the only time Trump had reacted that way during her tenure, she said.

13. Trump tried to call a witness.

Cheney dropped this bombshell at the end of the last hearing:

"After our last hearing, President Trump tried to call a witness in our investigation. A witness you have not yet seen in these hearings. That person declined to answer or respond to President Trump's call and instead alerted their lawyer to the call. Their lawyer alerted us. And this committee has supplied that information to the Department of Justice. Let me say one more time: we will take any effort to influence witness testimony very seriously."

It's unclear what crime could have been committed if Trump didn't speak with the person, but it's an eyebrow-raiser, suggesting the former president is paying attention and perhaps is nervous about the narrative that's forming.

14. Giuliani called White House professionals who wouldn't go along with his conspiratorial schemes to keep Trump in power "a bunch of p******."

The last hearing spent a significant amount of time detailing a fateful Dec. 18, 2020, meeting in which several conspiratorial supporters of the former president, including Giuliani, lawyer Sidney Powell and former Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne were trying to sell the president on extreme ways to stay in power.

It led to White House lawyer Eric Herschmann saying what they were putting forward was "nuts" and things almost came to blows with Giuliani, himself admitting he said they were "not tough enough" or, less politely, "a bunch of p******."

"Excuse the expression," Giuliani says, "but I'm almost certain the word was used."

That word was apparently thrown around quite a bit in Trump's orbit, because Trump himself called Pence the "p" word on the morning of Jan. 6 for not having the "courage" to go along with his scheme to stop the ceremonial counting of the electors, according to his daughter Ivanka Trump's former chief of staff, Julie Radford.

It was all not quite this... but not too far off:

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Domenico Montanaro
Domenico Montanaro is NPR's senior political editor/correspondent. Based in Washington, D.C., his work appears on air and online delivering analysis of the political climate in Washington and campaigns. He also helps edit political coverage.