Trump aids, fellow Republicans speak out in first Jan. 6 hearing. Uvalde school police chief says didn’t know he was in charge. Biden softens on Saudi Arabia for oil.
In yesterday’s televised Congressional hearings on the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, members of the investigating committee laid the groundwork for their case that former President Trump played a key role in inciting and directing the mob. This after conspiring for month with various aides to find ways to overturn the 2020 election. Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), the committee’s chair, described the events of Jan. 6 as “the culmination of an attempted coup”.
Previewing the contents of hearings to air in the coming weeks, vice-chair Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) said the hearings would show that “President Trump oversaw and coordinated a sophisticated 7-part plan to overturn the election and prevent the transfer of presidential power”. Cheney also described upcoming testimony from White House aides who recounted that President Trump, having heard the protesters’ chants of “Hang Mike Pence!”, declared that “maybe our supporters have the right idea”, and that Pence “deserved it”.
Barr said election fraud claims were “bullshit”
During the hearing, the committee played pre-recorded testimony from Trump’s former Attorney General Bill Barr. In the video, Barr says he saw no basis for Trump’s claims that the election was rigged and that he told Trump that the claims were “bullshit”. Barr said his unwillingness to go along with Trump’s narrative about a rigged election was a major factor in his decision to resign as Attorney General in December 2020.
In a subsequent snippet, President Trump’s daughter Ivanka is asked what she thought of Barr’s statements. “It affected my perspective,” Ivanka said. “I respect Attorney General Barr, so I accepted what he said- was saying”.
Other key revelations
During the hearing, we also learned that it was Mike Pence who called for back-up for the Capitol Police. Trump did not do so at any time. This is extraordinary, as Pence was essentially forced to assume a presidential prerogative during the crisis.
Filmmaker Nick Quested, who has present during the riot, also testified that the Proud Boys, a right-wing militia group, started heading towards the Capitol before Trump’s speech to rally the protesters. “I was confused to an extent why we were walking away from the president’s speech because that’s what I felt we were there to cover,” Quested said.
Cheney also said that multiple Republican members of Congress sought pardons from President Trump in the days after Jan. 6, including Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA). Cheney did not name the other five. However, she did have some pointed words for those of her fellow Republicans who supported Trump’s effort to overturn the election. “There will come a day when Donald Trump is gone,” Cheney said, “but your dishonor will remain”.
The next two hearings will air on Monday, June 13 at 10 a.m. ET/ 9 a.m. CT, and Wednesday, June 15, at 10 a.m. ET/9 a.m. CT.
Uvalde school police chief claims he didn’t know he was in charge
As the days pass and anger grows over the ineffectual police response to the Uvalde shooting, Uvalde School District Police Chief Pete Arredondo has offered up some baffling explanations for what went on that day. Since the shooting took place, Arredondo has kept a low profile. That is, with the exception of his public appearance when he was sworn into the city council. Texas authorities investigating the police response have said that Arredondo had cut off contact with them, which Arredondo denied.
Yesterday, The Texas Tribune published statements from Arredondo, some of which he gave himself and some of which were provided by his lawyer, George E. Hyde. Arredondo maintains that he, the Uvalde School District Police Chief, did not know that he was in charge of the scene at Robb Elementary School. He claims that he had assumed someone else was in charge.
Arredondo also admits that he intentionally left behind both his police and campus radios before entering the school. Investigators have said that poor radio communication was a key factor in the bungled police response. Arredondo says he instead used his cell phone to call for tactical gear and back up.
Biden softens on Saudi Arabia for oil
During his presidential campaign and early in his administration, President Biden took a hard rhetorical line on Saudi Arabia’s abysmal human rights record. This was in stark comparison with former President Trump, who massively increased US weapons sales to Saudi Arabia. The Saudis then used those weapons to carry out airstrikes in Yemen, some of which targeted hospitals and schools. US intelligence also believes the Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed Bin Salman, ordered the brutal 2018 murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul, Turkey.
On the campaign trail, Biden stated that his administration would “make it very clear we were not going to, in fact, sell more weapons to them. We were going to, in fact, make them pay the price and make them, in fact, the pariah that they are. There’s very little social redeeming value of the – in the present government in Saudi Arabia”.
However, now that the average price of gas in the US has exceeded $5 a gallon, Biden is striking a more conciliatory tone in hopes the Saudis will increase oil production. There is even talk that Biden may make an official visit to Saudi Arabia, something he had earlier rejected.
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