Asked by CNN’s Jake Tapper whether there was “going to be witnesses that describe actual conversations between these extremist groups and anyone in Trump’s orbit?” Rep. Bennie Thompson responded: “Yes.
“Obviously, you’ll have to go through the hearings, but we have a number of witnesses who have come forward that people have not talked to before, that will document a lot was going on in the Trump orbit while all of this was occurring,” the Mississippi Democrat said.
Thompson did not elaborate on the nature of the conversations, though evidence gathered in the Justice Department’s Oath Keepers and Proud Boys cases shows that both groups stuck close to some right-wing VIPs, especially those they believed they were providing volunteer “security” for on January 5 and 6, 2021.
These groups were at the vanguard of the riot. They were among the first to breach the building, and are accused of planning violence.
Explaining the committee’s approach to the hearings, Thompson told Tapper that “everything that the public heard tonight is factual. We can prove it. Because as you know, the fact checkers will look at everything that was presented, and we made a conscious effort to only put on what we could prove.”
“So, we put the tweets from the President. We put video from the President,” he continued. “We put everything on, but we put it in an order that the public could now see that even when the President was told by the chief law enforcement officer, that he appointed, attorney general, that there was no fault in the election. Obviously, the people he was listening to were not reputable in terms of looking at the evidence. And so, the President blew him off and started listening to people who had no real ground on the issue.”
CNN’s Marshall Cohen and Zachary Cohen contributed to this report.