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Wake Up To Politics - June 9, 2022

Wake Up To Politics: Jan. 6 goes primetime
Wake Up To Politics - June 9, 2022

by Gabe Fleisher

Good morning! It’s Thursday, June 9, 2022. Election Day 2022 is 152 days away. Election Day 2024 is 880 days away.

What to expect from the Jan. 6 committee’s primetime hearing

The House committee probing the January 6 riot at the Capitol will hold its first primetime hearing tonight at 8 p.m. ET.  

After nearly a year of investigation — encompassing more than 1,000 interviews and examination of more than 140,000 records — tonight’s hearing will be the panel’s first opportunity to present their findings to the public.

“We’ll demonstrate the multipronged effort to overturn a presidential election, how one strategy to subvert the election led to another, culminating in a violent attack on our democracy,” Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), a member of the committee, said on Twitter.

“It’s an important story, and one that must be told to ensure it never happens again,” he continued.

The committee will tell that story through a multimedia presentation that is expected to include video clips from the panel’s taped depositions (including with former first daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner).

The panel is also slated to show surveillance footage from inside the Capitol during the attack and never-bef0re-seen White House photos depicting former President Trump on the day of the riot.

Two witnesses will testify live: Caroline Edwards, a Capitol Police officer who was attacked by rioters on January 6 and suffered a concussion, and Nick Quested, a documentary filmmaker who was embedded with the Proud Boys during the riot.

Many members and leaders of the Proud Boys, a a far-right group, have been indicted in connection to the January 6 riot. According to the Washington Post, tonight’s hearing will “focus in part on the coordination between extremist groups who conspired to obstruct Congress by fomenting and spearheading a riot.”

Rioters outside the Capitol during the January 6 attack. (Tyler Merbler)

Former President Trump will likely have a starring role as well, as the committee seeks to place him at the center of the so-called “big lie” about the 2020 election, which eventually led to the Capitol attack.

Tonight’s made-for-TV hearing is being produced by James Goldston, who oversaw “Good Morning America” and “Nightline” as the former president of ABC News, according to Axios.

CBS, ABC, and NBC — all three major broadcast TV networks — will air the hearing live, pre-empting shows like “Young Sheldon” and “Grey’s Anatomy.” Cable networks CNN and MSNBC will also show the entire hearing; Fox News will not, although its lower-rated sister channel Fox Business will.

Trump will have no defenders in the hearing room, as the committee is composed of seven Democrats and two of Trump’s fiercest Republican critics, Reps. Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Adam Kinzinger (R-IL).

House Republicans decided not to participate in the committee after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) removed two of the GOP’s picks from the panel. Pelosi then appointed Cheney and Kinzinger in their stead. Cheney serves as the panel’s vice chair, and she will lead tonight’s hearing along with chairman Bennie Thompson (D-MS).

Without any Trump loyalists in the room, the GOP has planned a media blitz to respond to the hearing, including TV hits and social media blasts.

“This committee is not about seeking the truth,” Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), the No. 3 House Republican, said at a prebuttal press conference on Wednesday. “It’s a smear campaign against President Donald Trump, against Republican members of Congress, and against Trump voters across this country.”

The January 6 committee will seek to pin the Capitol attack on former President Trump. (Gage Skidmore)

While Democrats have been hyping expectations ahead of the hearing, it remains to be seen whether the committee’s work will have any substantial political or legal implications.

Many Democrats hope the January 6 hearings — there are five more planned throughout the month — will provide the party a boost to stave off expected losses during November’s midterm elections.

However, even as many of the committee’s key findings have been reported via leaks to the media, the percentage of Americans who believe Trump bears responsibility for the Capitol riot has only dropped over the past year — contrary to the panel’s main thesis.

The legal consequences of the committee’s investigation are also unlikely to be vast: the panel can recommend the Justice Department criminally charge people, but lawmakers cannot issue indictments themselves.

One Democratic member of the committee signaled Wednesday that the panel is unlikely even to make a criminal referral for former President Trump, a step the committee has been debating for months.

Alongside the January 6 committee probe, the Justice Department has been examining the riot in one of the most sweeping investigations in its history. More than 800 people have been arrested in connection to the rioting so far.

The DOJ has also charged two former Trump aides with contempt of Congress for flouting January 6 committee subpoenas, although the agency has also declined to charge two other Trump advisers recommended by the committee.

More news you should know

— The House passed a gun control package on Wednesday in a 223-204 vote, which largely broke along party lines. The package would raise the purchasing age for semi-automatic weapons from 18 to 21, outlaw high-capacity ammunition magazines and bump stocks, and subject ghost gun purchases to background checks, among other measures.

  • Five Republicans voted for the bill: Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (PA), Anthony Gonzalez (OH), Chris Jacobs (NY), Adam Kinzinger (IL), and Fred Upton (MI). Two Democrats voted for it: Jared Golden (ME) and Kurt Schrader (OR). Of those seven lawmakers, only Fitzpatrick and Golden will face voters in November.
  • The measure is unlikely to advance in the Senate. However, Senate negotiators suggested they could have a framework for a bipartisan gun control deal by the end of the week.
  • Also on Wednesday, people with ties to the Uvalde and Buffalo shootings testified before the House. “In this case, you are the doctors and our country is the patient,” Uvalde’s sole pediatrician told lawmakers. “We are lying on the operating table, riddled with bullets... We are bleeding and you are not there.”

Former President Trump and two of his children have agreed to sit for depositions with the New York attorney general office’s as part of an investigation into their family business. The long-sought depositions with Trump, his son Donald Jr., and daughter Ivanka will take place on July 15.

The parents of a 10-year-old killed in Uvalde testify before a House committee on Wednesday. (Screengrab)

The Supreme Court issued one opinion on Wednesday, rejecting a Washington state bed-and-breakfast owner’s civil rights lawsuit against a Border Patrol agent. The justices ruled 6-3 that the agent could not be sued for using excessive force, further limiting the ability of Americans to sue individual federal officials for civil rights violations.

  • Meanwhile, as investigators hunt for the leaker who made a draft decision on abortion public, NPR reports that “the court is riven with distrust among the law clerks, staff and, most of all, the justices themselves.”

Two Republican congressmen from Mississippi were forced into primary runoffs on Tuesday after failing to win majority support from their party during the first round of voting. One of the congressmen, Rep. Michael Guest, faced opposition over his vote to create a bipartisan commission to investigate January 6; the other, Steven Palazzo, is under investigation for alleged misuse of campaign funds.

  • On the Democratic side, progressives are wrestling with the results of Tuesday’s elections after San Francisco’s left-wing district attorney was recalled largely due to voter frustrations with crime. “Both parties have to step up and do something about crime, as well as gun violence,” President Biden said Wednesday in response to the results.
Protesters hold up photos of the nine Supreme Court justices outside the court building. (Gabe Fleisher / Wake Up To Politics) 

What’s going on in government today

All times Eastern.

President Biden is in Los Angeles for the Summit of the Americas, a meeting of leaders from across the Western Hemisphere. He’ll deliver remarks at a meeting of CEOs attending the summit (2 pm), meet with Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau (2:45 pm), and meet with leaders of Caribbean nations (4:30 pm).

Then, Biden will deliver remarks at the opening plenary session of the summit (5 pm), meet with Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro (6:30 pm), and host the attending heads of state and their spouses for dinner (10:45 pm).

Vice President Harris is also in LA for the summit. She’ll join Biden for his meeting with Caribbean leaders (4:30 pm) and also attend the opening plenary session of the summit (5 pm).

The Senate will convene (10 am) and vote on confirmation of Samuel Bagenstos to be general counsel of the Department of Health and Human Services (1:45 pm). The chamber may also hold votes related to the Honoring our PACT Act, a bipartisan bill which would offer health care benefits and access to veterans who were exposed to toxic substances during their military service.

President Biden and Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau (seen here holding a joint press conference together in 2021) will meet today in-person. (Adam Schultz / White House)

The House will convene and vote on a piece of gun control legislation, the Federal Extreme Risk Protection Order Act (around 10:45 am). The measure would establish a federal “red flag law,” creating a procedure for relatives or law enforcement officers to petition federal courts to prohibit an individual from purchasing or possessing a firearm if they believe the individual poses a risk to themselves or others.

The Supreme Court will meet for its weekly conference.

Also happening today: The House January 6 committee will hold its first primetime public hearing (8 pm).

  • House speaker Nancy Pelosi will hold her weekly press conference (10:45 am).
  • White House officials will hold a press briefing on their plans for rolling out vaccinations for kids under the age of five once they are formally approved (11 am).

Links to watch for yourself: Senate sessionHouse sessionJanuary 6 hearingPelosi presser

That’s it for today. If you enjoy Wake Up To Politics, it’s always appreciated if you donate to support the newsletter or buy some merch. Or if you tell your friends and family to sign up at wakeuptopolitics.com.

If you have any questions or feedback, feel free to email me: my inbox is always open.

Thanks for waking up to politics! Have a great day.

— Gabe