Video will play key role in hearings and January 6 report

For months, the House select committee investigating January 6th assault on the United States Capitol has been busy preparing for its upcoming hearings and finalizing plans for a public report Later this year.

But these hearings and this report are unlikely to be dense, text-heavy presentations. Instead, video evidence and multimedia assets should be essential to both efforts, according to four people familiar with the ongoing discussions.

“Don’t expect Muller reportone of the people said, referring to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s 448-page report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and the conduct of former President Donald Trump and his aides. .

The committee’s strategy is driven by the members’ desire to break through with Americans who might feel like they already know the story of the Capitol storming and Trump’s push to claim victory — even after the president Joe Biden has been declared the winner of the 2020 election. The committee’s recent discussions have focused on how to capture the nation’s attention and ensure their findings resonate across broadcast and social media, the people said. .

“You are going to see the video. You will see text messages. You will see the timeline. The hope here is that the hearings and the report will finally bring this to life in a compelling way,” said a second person familiar with the committee, describing the goal as “shaking up” people to re-engage with an event that is already well known. from television reports and documentaries.

A model for the committee’s effort is the 13-minute video that House impeachment officials showed at the opening of Trump’s Senate Trial in February 2021. This video production used dramatic behind-the-scenes videos taken from cellphones and social media uploads, as well as security camera footage, to illuminate the extent and severity of the violence during the attack on the Capitol.

The lead impeachment official last year, Rep. Jamie Raskin, Democrat of Maryland, is now on the House Select Committee and works closely with the committee’s chairman, Rep. Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi, and the vice president, Rep. Liz Cheney, Republican. of Wyoming, to map the hearings and report, with the help of advisers steeped in video and communications, the people said.

Thompson also used the video to open the committee’s first round of hearings last July, when Capitol Police officers emotionally recounted their experiences and the trauma of dealing with rioters for hours.

“The video is shocking to the senses and they are probably trying to remind people of the deeper nature of this event. It was not a blip or a protest that got out of hand, but a violent insurgency,” veteran Democratic strategist David Axelrod said. “The best way to do that is to share the video.”

Axelrod added, “The challenge is to make it meaningful to people and not just a retrospective, with information that hasn’t been made public yet.”

But Trump allies say the committee has a surge with many Republicans, who continue to encourage Trump’s dismissive comments about the House Select Committee.

“It’s dragged on for so long,” said Republican consultant Ed Rollins, who runs Great America PAC, a pro-Trump group. “It has to be presented very carefully by the committee because the Republicans won’t pay any attention to it if it’s an 800-page report, and I wonder, with the war in Ukraine, if people are will care.”

A spokesperson for the House Select Committee declined to comment.

Thompson recently told reporters that investigators’ goal is to wrap up depositions with witnesses by early April. The committee would then hold public hearings that month, followed by an interim report in June, he said.

The committee’s schedule, however, could be pushed back if investigators find new information or seek additional testimony and witness records.

But showing powerful new video and multimedia evidence about the attack itself is only part of the plan. Exposing how Trump worked to delay Mr. Biden’s certification and round up lists of “substitute voters” in various states and worked with allies like Steve Bannon and attorney Rudy Giuliani on that mission, will likely be another aspect. essence of the hearings and the report, people said.

Earlier this month, the House Select Committee said in a court filing that it had evidence that Trump and his allies engaged in a ‘criminal conspiracy’ trying to prevent Congress from certifying the election. This filing also describes how a Trump ally, attorney John Eastman, advised Trump to “press an unconstitutional plan” to persuade Vice President Mike Pence to intervene in the Jan. 6 certification.

Eastman’s attorney, Charles Burnham, slammed the committee for ‘accusing him of criminal activity’ and argued that Eastman is protecting ‘client confidences’ by refusing to provide the select committee with documents he has requested.

Yet even without Eastman’s papers, the committee has a treasure trove of material to use in creating video presentations for the hearings and for the work product that will ultimately make up its report, including phone recordings and text messages.

Thousands of text messages sent by former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, for example, are in the possession of the committee and provide a crucial roadmap for the timeline of the White House’s response to proposed legal regimes and Trump’s decision making before and after the attack. on the Capitol.

It is unclear who within the committee might be directly responsible for editing the video and incorporating slices of data and testimony into a multimedia report, or whether the committee will consult with outside advisers, and those close to the committee. warned that talks remain fluid.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat from California, last year created the House Select Committee to investigate the Jan. 6 attack, when thousands of Trump supporters descended on Capitol Hill as Congress tallied the electoral votes, a largely ceremonial final step affirming Mr Biden’s victory. The riot resulted in the deaths of five people and the arrest of hundreds more. Trump was impeached by the House a week later for inciting the riot, but was acquitted by the Senate.

So far, investigators have spoken to more than 650 witnesses, according to a panel aide. The committee has publicly issued more than 90 subpoenas, targeting witnesses ranging from members of Trump’s inner circle to organizers of the Jan. 6 rally and right-wing extremists.

Caroline Linton and Ellis Kim contributed to this report.

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