Donald Trump’s subpoena grabbed the headline – but new video of Capitol riots gripped the audience

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He calls it the “Unselect Committee” and his appearance before it is uncertain, to say the least.

Certainly, Donald Trump showed no inclination in the wake of his subpoena.

“The committee is a total BUST that has only served to further divide our country,” he opined on his Truth Social media platform.

From its start, he has dismissed these congressional hearings as a political witch hunt.

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Given his ongoing record of resistance to legal probing, dragging a former president before this particular set of accusers would suggest a struggle: some legal analysts in the United States are already calling the move “symbolic”.

At this, the last scheduled hearing of the 6 January committee, the subpoena may have grabbed the headline, but new film of the assault on the Capitol gripped the audience.

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The Jan 6 Committee has released previously unseen footage of congressional leaders phoning officials for help during the assault.

There was compelling new video of congressional leaders, ashen-faced in secure rooms beneath the Capitol building, negotiating national guard troops to come and protect their lives and their institution.

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It delivered a fresh perspective to this prime-time hearing that brought a US audience back to the reality of the crisis that was 6 January 2021.

The committee’s presentation has been carefully crafted over four months, and the big finish had the best footage.

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Trump subpoenaed on Jan 6 riot

It was the visual aid in pulling together the threads of this committee’s insurrection story, one it says places Donald Trump at the centre, before and after the 2020 election.

Vice-chair Liz Cheney says they have “sufficient information to consider criminal referrals” and that could be the key to what happens next.

Having laid out a “prosecution by proxy”, the big question will be around actual prosecution, in an actual courtroom, which is a decision for the US Justice department.

Pic: AP
Pic: AP

A “prosecution proper” would lay out much of the same detail, no doubt, but it would be tested in court; open to cross-examination and less open to accusations of political motivation.

Short of a progression towards a criminal trial, the committee will be satisfied, for now, with its business.

Read more:
Storming the Capitol: How four hours of mayhem unfolded
The ‘medieval battle scene’
Astonishing testimony may help committee resonate with public

Its members are no fans of Donald Trump and his re-shaping of the Republican Party.

They will take the view that there’s never a bad time to remind a voting public of one individual’s influence in undermining democracy – as they would have it – but a good time is probably a month short of their midterm elections.

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