In launching its case to the American public, the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection made a central argument: Look at the tape.
The centerpiece of Thursday night’s hearing was a video reconstruction of the attack on the Capitol. Over 10 minutes, it went point by point, showing the rioters overwhelming and beating police officers as the mob broke into the building to stop the certification of Donald Trump’s election loss.
The video had a powerful impact inside the hearing room and among Democrats. Police officers in the audience consoled one another as they relived the violence. U.S. Capitol Police officer Harry Dunn teared up during the footage of rioters hitting his colleagues with flagpoles and baseball bats.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York posted a photo on Instagram of her television with images of the riot. “There was (and continues to be) a widespread GOP campaign to downplay the scale of this attack,” she wrote in a caption.
“We were trapped on the campus with no way out,” she added. “This is what a US terrorist attack looks like.”
Meanwhile, many Republicans downplayed the new footage or didn’t watch it at all. Unlike other networks, Fox News did not air the committee hearing and allotted hours to hosts and guests who denigrated it. Taylor Budowich, a Trump spokesman, said: “This isn’t a legislative hearing, it’s a production.”
Here are some of the key moments from the committee’s video.
THE PROUD BOYS
Three months after Trump said they should “stand back and stand by,” the Proud Boys had many members stationed in Washington.
The committee’s video shows members of the far-right extremist group gathering on the National Mall hours before Trump’s speech exhorting his supporters to “fight like hell.” By the time Trump spoke near the White House, members of the Proud Boys had already reached the Capitol several blocks away.
The group’s former top leader is now charged with seditious conspiracy, as are other members. Federal prosecutors allege they carried out a coordinated attack on the Capitol.
By 1 p.m., as Speaker Nancy Pelosi began the certification of electoral votes, rioters had already breached police lines east of the Capitol.
A riot was declared at 1:50 p.m., and lawmakers were soon moved to safety. New video aired Thursday shows people running in the office of House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy.
Undermanned officers fought assailants who came with weapons and bear spray. The officers’ body cameras and overhead security footage captured much of the melee.
Why the National Guard wasn’t already there and why it took so long for Guard members to arrive are questions that remain disputed among key figures. The U.S. Capitol Police chief that day has alleged that the House and Senate sergeants-at-arms delayed responding to his pleas, which those officials have denied. The Pentagon has said it did not have full forces ready and needed several hours to deploy.
The chief and both sergeants-at-arms resigned after the attack.