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Jan. 6 committee hearing focuses on Trump's actions during the attack

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

NPR congressional correspondent Claudia Grisales has been covering the January 6 probe from the very beginning. She's here in the studio now to talk about what else happened at today's big hearing. Hey, Claudia.

CLAUDIA GRISALES, BYLINE: Hi, Mary Louise.

KELLY: OK. Dig into this subpoena decision today with me. What is driving it?

GRISALES: Right. Much of the hearing was focused on evidence the committee had gathered of then-President Trump's intent, the premeditation, if you will, especially building up to the January 6 attack on the Capitol. And they had hinted to us that they were going to be doing a broader look today, a step back compared to these previous hearings from this past summer. Vice Chair Liz Cheney presented the resolution to vote on this subpoena for former President Trump. Let's take a listen to that moment.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

LIZ CHENEY: This afternoon, I am offering this resolution - that the committee direct the chairman to issue a subpoena for relevant documents and testimony under oath from Donald John Trump in connection with the January 6 attack on the United States Capitol.

GRISALES: And while she did note that the Justice Department is going to unearth a lot of the evidence to come with this probe into the January 6 attack, she said the panel, for their part, saw at least 30 witnesses not testify to what they knew. They may have come in, but they did not share details when they did appear before the committee. And so that leaves the committee looking at the central figure in the January 6 attack. And Cheney noted that is the former president, and they cannot complete their probe without issuing the subpoena.

KELLY: Well, stay with that central figure and give me a sense of how high expectations may be that he would actually cooperate.

GRISALES: Not very high. The expectations are pretty low at this point, especially that Trump himself has already responded on his social media app. He said the panel was, quote, "a total bust." And he also said that it has served to, quote, "divide our country."

KELLY: OK. Walk me through some of the other highlights, some of the other new moments related to Trump's role that we learned about today.

GRISALES: Right. We heard new testimony from former Trump officials about his state of mind building up to the attack. For example, we saw former Trump White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson. We've seen her before, but today we saw her new testimony talking about running into the former president after a holiday party where she heard him say, quote, "this is embarrassing." Quote, "I don't want people to know we lost." And this goes to the panel's broader argument that Trump knew he had lost the election and he was working to undermine the 2020 presidential election results.

And we also heard evidence presented by Republican member Adam Kinzinger, who said that the then-president had looked into pulling American troops from Afghanistan and Somalia. And even as this - as remarkable as this plan that was proposed was, the argument Kinzinger and others on the panel were making is that Trump knew that he was leaving office and he was trying to leave a national security mess, if you will, for President Biden.

KELLY: We also saw today some pretty riveting footage of congressional leaders. There was some video of Nancy Pelosi. Walk me through what we saw.

GRISALES: Right. We saw these leaders who were taken to a secure location during the attack. First, they wanted to try and put a plan together on how to get these insurrectionists who went into the Capitol out of the Capitol, to secure the Capitol and also try and go back in a session and complete the business of the day, which was to certify the results of President Biden's win. And we also saw the alarm that members were experiencing as this attack ensued. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi - we heard one moment where she is realizing that there were members now trapped inside the House Chamber.

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NANCY PELOSI: Did we go back into session?

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: We did go back into session. But now, apparently everybody on the floor is putting on tear gas masks to prepare for a breach. I'm trying to get more information.

PELOSI: They're putting on their...

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Tear gas masks.

PELOSI: Can you believe this? Can you believe this?

GRISALES: So right there, we can hear her say, can you believe this? Then we heard Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer talking about calling the National Guard, that senators were trapped as well. And so it was a really remarkable moment in terms of what they were experiencing.

KELLY: That is NPR's Claudia Grisales, getting us up to speed on all that happened today with the January 6 committee. Thank you, Claudia.

GRISALES: Thank you much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Claudia Grisales is a congressional reporter assigned to NPR's Washington Desk.