2022 January 6th Congressional Hearings refers to a series of congressional hearings held by the United States Congress in June 2022. The goal of the hearings is to investigate the January 6th storming of the U.S. Capitol and determine who planned it and who should be held responsible for it. Over the course of the hearings, members of the January 6th Select Committee questioned former members of the Trump administration and others about the violence, how it was planned and how the administration responded. Two groups, in particular, were highlighted during the hearings, the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, which both had members indicted for conspiracy in early 2022. The hearings became a contentious topic online after beginning in June 2022, inspiring viral debates between users and many prominent politicians.
After his loss in the 2020 Presidential Election President Donald Trump repeatedly claimed election fraud, despite no evidence supporting his allegations. These claims were later rejected by courts, state governments and members of his own administration. On January 6th, 2021, as Congress sought to ratify the election results and officially declare Joe Biden the next President, a mob of people including Trump supporters and members of right-wing organizations, such as the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, moved toward the United States Capitol, past police barriers and then broke into the building. Trump had given a speech to a large crowd a little under two hours before and told them “We will never give up. We will never concede,” among other statements discussed in the hearings, after which many in the crowd began moving towards the Capitol. After the Capitol was breached, police and protestors clashed, resulting in the deaths of four people and dozens of injuries. Both branches of Congress were evacuated.
A few hours after the breach of the Capitol, Trump issued a video through Twitter asking people to leave the building, and they did. Later, Congress continued counting votes and affirmed that Joe Biden would be the lawfully elected President.
In the aftermath of the insurrection, a number of congresspeople called for investigations into what happened and demanded consequences for those responsible. Trump was impeached (but not removed from office) and a large FBI investigation went after citizens who had taken part in the attack on the Capitol.
In spring 2021, a Congressional Committee was formed to investigate the events of the January 6th insurrection and was joined by 10 Democrats and two Republicans, Adam Kinzinger and Liz Cheney, both of whom were censured by the Republican party afterward. The Congressional Hearings were led by the chair of the committee, Democrat Bennie Thompson, and Liz Cheney.
First Hearing June 9th, 2022
On June 9th, 2022, the first Congressional hearing for the January 6th attack began.
On the morning before the June 9th hearings, Hillary Clinton posted a tweet (seen below) receiving more than 93,000 likes in 24 hours criticizing the fact that Fox News chose not to cover the hearings.
In liberal quarters, many highlighted the seriousness and significance of the hearings. For example, Tom Nichols sent a tweet (seen below) about how “everything is on the line” on the night of June 9th, 2022, immediately following the hearings and received over 7,000 likes and 1,600 retweets in less than 24 hours, one of which was from Senator Brian Schatz.
@CalltoActivism posted (seen below) on the afternoon of June 10th, comparing the relatively muted reaction to the Congressional Hearings to the hype around the Heard vs. Depp trial just a few weeks prior. They received 3,449 likes in the day following the tweet.
Donald Trump posted (seen below) in the early morning of June 10th on his own platform Truth Social to doubt the fairness of the hearings and rebuff them, receiving over 46,000 likes in less than a day. There were reports in the days following the first hearing on June 9th that accounts on Truth Social which posted about the hearings were being shut down.
During the first day, video testimony (seen below) from Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and former advisor, gained significant attention because of Kushner's characterization of White House Counsel Pat Cipollone's threats to resign because of election denial as "whining."
Former Trump White House Senior Advisor Jared Kushner tells the Jan. 6th Committee he believes repeated threats by White House Counsel Pat Cipollone to resign amounted to "whining" https://t.co/YjEvScXAAd pic.twitter.com/1DN0ZL5FQr— Bloomberg (@business) June 10, 2022
Podcast host and former Obama advisor Tommy Vietor, along with others, posted a tweet (seen below) on the evening of June 9th criticizing Kushner, which received over 14,200 likes and 990 retweets over the next few days.
Second Hearing June 13th, 2022
The second hearing set up a case that Donald Trump and people close to him were aware the 2020 election was legitimate, and fundraised off claims of election irregularities anyways. Following the election, Trump raised over $250 million off of claiming the election was stolen. The committee established that much of that money went to Save America PAC (which runs Trump's current operations) rather than to fighting election fraud.
Congresswoman Liz Cheney began the proceedings on June 13th by speaking about events on Election Night, contending that "Trump followed the course recommended by an apparently inebriated Rudy Giulani to just claim he won." Jeff Yang quote-tweeted an MSNBC video of Cheney's remarks, gaining 276 likes on the afternoon of the 13th.
One shouldn’t even take advice from a sober Rudy Giuliani https://t.co/EYrzrDMmkq— Jeff Yang (@originalspin) June 13, 2022
Many mocked Giulani for being "apparently inebriated," producing memes about the former Mayor of New York and Donald Trump's attorney. @TheUSASingers posted a meme making fun of Giuliani (seen below) on the 13th, which gained over 1,500 likes that day.
The June 13th hearing also featured footage of former Attorney General Bill Barr dismissing claims of election fraud, and laughing at the Dinesh D'Souza film 2000 Mules, which made allegations of fraud. On the 13th, Adam Klasfeld tweeted about the Barr clips (seen below) reaching almost 4,000 likes over the course of the day.
Bill Barr laughs uproariously about the supposed evidence of election fraud "2000 Mules" -- and explains why it's bunk. pic.twitter.com/MHvHIcXnyJ— Adam Klasfeld (@KlasfeldReports) June 13, 2022
Third Hearing June 16th, 2022
The third hearing of the January 6th committee was originally scheduled for the 15th, but was delayed a day to give the video-production team more time to prepare. The committee has made heavy use of video footage of the January 6th insurrection as well as of video depositions of public figures.
The third hearing focused on the legal side of plans made by Trump and others to undo Joe Biden's election victory. This tweet posted by the committee's official Twitter account in advance of the hearing and receiving laid out the line of argument for the day and received over 17,400 likes.
Trump knew he lost the 2020 election, so he oversaw a scheme to overturn the will of the American people. When the Vice President refused to go along with it, he unleashed a violent mob against Pence at The Capitol.— January 6th Committee (@January6thCmte) June 16, 2022
Hearing today at 1pm ET. pic.twitter.com/xbUrAldayy
Goaded on by law scholar John Eastman, Trump and his camp latched onto a fringe interpretation of the Constitution's 12th amendment which would allow Vice President Mike Pence to reject electors from swing states on January 6th, when the electoral votes would be officially counted and certified. The 12th amendment, which describes the electoral college process and the counting of votes, only gives the Vice President (in their capacity as 'President of the Senate') authority to open and count electoral votes, not to reject or change them. Eastman, recognizing the probable illegality of his plans, petitioned Trump for a pardon in the days following January 6th. A different federal judge has already found in a civil case that Trump and Eastman likely committed felonies, and called their plans "a coup in search of a legal theory."
The most talked-about witness at the third hearing was J. Michael Luttig, a conservative judge who refuted Eastman's theory. Many pointed out that Luttig may have been specially selected because of his centrality in conservative legal communities, including Robert Maguire, who tweeted in the middle of the hearing about how Luttig had been Ted Cruz's mentor, earning over 42,500 likes.
Luttig's slow and deliberate speech was also mocked and joked about, including by Sam Stein, who tweeted about it mid-hearing and earned 1,800 likes.
Many objected to the mocking of Luttig's speech, pointing out that the judge reportedly suffered a stroke recently which may have led to changes in his speech.
Footage of Representative Barry Loudermilk (R-GA) on January 5th giving an hours-long tour of the Capitol, including areas of the building and security checkpoints usually of no interest to tourists, were also publicized by the committee ahead of the third hearing. Some people in Loudermilk's tour, including a man who took pictures and video of the Capitol, later took part in the storming of the building. Loudermilk denies that he helped people reconnoiter the Capitol, but many of his colleagues did not believe him. A tweet posted by Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (D-NY) on June 15th showing footage of Loudermilk giving the tour earned over 124,000 likes.
Fourth Hearing June 21st, 2022
The fourth hearing of the January 6th committee focused on state election officials in Arizona and Georgia who had been pressured by Trump and others to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
Arizona Republican State House Speaker Rusty Bowers described the pressure he faced to change votes.
Yikes. Arizona Republican House Speaker Rusty Bowers says Rudy Giuliani told him: “We’ve got lots of theories, but we just don’t have the evidence.” pic.twitter.com/9AC88rbb2c— MeidasTouch.com (@MeidasTouch) June 21, 2022
The testimony of Georgia poll workers who faced a campaign of harassment from Trump supporters following the election also received considerable attention online.
"I've lost my name, and I've lost my reputation. I've lost my sense of security -- all because a group of people… scapegoat[ed] me and my daughter, Shaye, to push their own lies about how the Presidential election was stolen."— January 6th Committee (@January6thCmte) June 21, 2022
- Ruby Freeman, former Georgia election worker pic.twitter.com/jEVvW85ZJX
Fifth Hearing June 23rd, 2022
The fifth hearing of the House Committee focused on President Trump's attempts to use the Department of Justice to help undo the results of the election. The hearings told the story of how Trump considered replacing Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen with a loyalist named Jeffrey Clark, who would assist him in turning the election his way.
Clark, Trump and others came up with a plan to ask states to overturn the results of the election, and use the investigative muscle of the FBI to try and find election fraud. Officials across the Justice Department threatened to resign if Trump replaced Rosen with Clark, which ultimately led to the plan's failure.
At the end of the hearing, the committee revealed the names of members of Congress who requested pardons from President Trump, including members of Congress Mo Brooks, Jim Jordan, Louie Gohmert, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Andy Biggs, and Matt Gaetz. Gaetz' request was especially memed, especially for its phrasing: the Congressman, who has been implicated in prostitution scandals for paying for sex with teenagers, reportedly asked for a pardon that would cover "any and all things" from the "beginning of time" onwards. Comedian Patton Oswalt commented on Gaetz' phrasing, earning over 74,000 likes over the course of a day.
 The New York Times – Here are 4 takeaways from Thursday’s Jan. 6 hearing
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