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When the Jan. 6 committee gavels in its primetime hearing Thursday night, the stakes will be high as its members seek to show Americans that Donald Trump was the key to a plot to overturn the 2020 presidential election.
Nearly 18 months after the attack on the Capitol by a mob of former President Trump‘s supporters, the series of hearings may be the committee’s best chance to capture Americans’ attention before the midterms.
The committee will have to compete with inflation, rising gas prices, shortages in baby formula and more for political attention.
But with the hearing expected to include video of interviews with top Trump officials and potentially family members, created with the assistance of a former ABC News president, the committee believes it can do just that.
“The vast majority of the material you will see … is previously unseen,” a select committee aide said Wednesday. “Whether it is recording video or audio of witnesses we’ve interviewed, whether it is records that we’ve obtained over the course of our investigation.
“We will be revealing new details showing that the mob on Jan. 6 was the result of a coordinated, multistep effort to overturn the results of the 2020 election and stop the transfer of power from Donald Trump to Joe Biden. Trump was at the center of that effort.”
Thursday’s hearing is expected to be just one of several televised hearings from the Jan. 6 committee, with the next already announced for Monday.
A select committee aide said the Thursday event will serve as an “opening statement” to grab Americans’ attention and to preview subsequent hearings.
Republicans also appear to see this week as a key moment, as they’re putting together a coordinated counter-programming blitz to fight back against the committee.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., will lead a press conference Thursday morning about the committee. That event follows several national media interviews, media calls and other events at which House GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y.; Republican Study Committee Chair Jim Banks, R-Ind.; and others attacked the committee throughout the week.
“I am working closely with President Trump, Leader Kevin McCarthy, Jim Jordan and my colleagues to help lead House Republicans in pushing back against lame-duck Speaker Pelosi’s sham political witch hunt,” Stefanik told Fox News Digital.
She and other Republicans are making a variety of arguments in opposition to the committee.
Among them are that the committee is not legitimate because Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., didn’t seat McCarthy’s chosen Republicans on the committee; that Democrats are focusing on the wrong issues amid inflation and other crises; and that the committee is ignoring the physical security of the Capitol to focus on the juicier Trump-related storyline.
“The Capitol did not attack itself.”
“We should study the events that led up to it. Why the Capitol was left unsecured on Jan. 6 when there was intelligence dating back before Jan. 6 something was going to happen,” Banks said in an interview with Fox News Digital.
But those supportive of the committee say it is taking Capitol security into account. It has a separate investigative team dedicated to security failures. Republicans are just using that point to deflect from Trump’s false claims the election was stolen and alleged culpability in the attack, committee supporters say.
“The Capitol did not attack itself,” a spokesman for Jan. 6 Committee Ranking Member Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., told Fox News Digital.
Thursday’s hearing will come after months of the committee conducting interviews, depositions and subpoenaing more than 1,000 people and gathering more than 140,000 documents.
While much of the grisly footage of smoke filling Capitol hallways and Trump supporters beating police officers is familiar to Americans, the interview and deposition footage may be the newest look for most viewers.
Among those reported to have been interviewed by the committee are Donald Trump Jr., former Attorney General Bill Barr, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and more.
It’s not clear which interviews the committee might feature Thursday. There will be testimony from two live witnesses — Capitol Police Officer Caroline Edwards and filmmaker Nick Quested. But a select committee aide said Wednesday the hearing in general will emphasize “ongoing threats to our democracy” related to Trump and Jan. 6.
“As much as certain Republicans attempt to say the committee is illegitimate, a sham and political, those claims will not hold a lot of weight when the committee shares what it knows, shares the truth and shares the facts,” a person close to the committee told Fox News.