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During Wednesday’s House Oversight Committee hearing, titled “The Capitol Insurrection: Unexplained Delays and Unanswered Questions,” there were a few key moments that haven’t gotten nearly enough attention.
New information included revelations about the Capitol bomber case, the timeline of the Pentagon’s response, and a particularly stunning defense of the people who have been charged for their role in the attack from one member of Congress.
PATRIOT GAMES - The nearly five hour session largely transpired along predictably partisan lines: Democrats decried the actions of those who stormed the Capitol as the election was certified and pointed to delays in the response under President Trump; Republicans defended the former president’s conduct related to that day and questioned the focus on the attack.
Republican committee members noted Trump used the phrase “peacefully and patriotically” during a Jan. 6 rally where he falsely claimed his election loss was fraudulent and urged supporters to march to the Capitol. Several Republicans at the hearing — most notably Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-GA), who said the crowds inside the Capitol were “orderly” and looked like a “normal tourist visit” — questioned the magnitude of the violence and vandalism that day and shifted the focus to riots that occurred during Black Lives Matter protests last year.
Comments from Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) were singularly unique among all of the defenses of January 6 rioters. He went beyond defending their actions that day and suggested prosecutions stemming from the violence are part of a massive government conspiracy to harass Trump supporters.
“Outright propaganda and lies are being used to unleash the national security state against law-abiding U.S. citizens, especially Trump voters,” Gosar claimed. “The government has even enlisted Americans to turn in their own neighbors.”
Federal prosecutors have charged over 400 people with alleged crimes related to activity on January 6, which included assaults on law enforcement officers. The FBI is seeking information on “individuals who are actively instigating violence in Washington, D.C.“ and has solicited ”tips and digital media depicting rioting and violence in the U.S. Capitol building and surrounding area” on January 6. Multiple arrests have been made based on these tips.
Gosar noted that no guns were seized from the Capitol rioters, who were largely cleared from the building without being detained at the scene. He also said Ashli Babbitt was “executed” when the Air Force veteran was shot and killed by a U.S. Capitol Police officer as she tried to break into the House chamber. (The Justice Department cleared that officer last month.)
“My constituents demand answers, but the truth is being censored and covered up,” Gosar said. “As a result, the DOJ is harassing… peaceful patriots across the country.”
Gosar’s apparent defense of the riots is also notable because the Republican Congressman was the top advertised speaker for the “Wild Protest” rally, which drew crowds to the Capitol that day. “Wild Protest” organizer Ali Alexander has claimed Gosar was one of three Republican lawmakers who helped plan the event. Earlier this year, Gosar’s chief of staff, Thomas Van Flein, participated in chat rooms with Alexander on the audio app Clubhouse.
Van Flein did not respond to a request for comment.
UNSOLVED MYSTERIES - Washington D.C. Metropolitan Police Chief Robert Contee said there are no suspects in the Capitol bomber case.
An unidentified individual placed bombs in front of the headquarters of the Republican National Committee and Democratic National Committee on the night of January 5. The bombs were found and destroyed by law enforcement, but Contee said they could have done “significant damage.”
“No arrests have been made. No suspects identified,” Contee said of the case. “Working with our partners on the federal side, there’s been surveillance videos that have been released publicly showing that individual placing the pipe bombs, but no arrests have been made at this point.”
Contee discussed the bombing during questioning from Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-WI), who also asked about the potential specific groups that led the storming of the Capitol.
“What we know for certain is that there were individuals who coordinated their efforts through radio coordination and hand signals,” Contee said.
Contee said some of this behavior came from the groups that have already been reported as having been involved in the protests, though he did not name any. Grothman concluded his remarks by attempting to shift the focus on Black Lives Matter despite no indication that the activist group played any substantial role in January 6.
“I encourage any listeners to research the three founders of Black Lives Matter because it is something that concerns me so greatly that somebody who, apparently, were trained Marxists have gained such influence in our country,” Grothman said.
‘FOG AND FRICTION’ - The hearing also included questions about the official Defense Department timeline of the events on January 6 and the more than three hours it took for the National Guard to arrive.
Former Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller said the president authorized the Pentagon to use the guard — to protect his own supporters. Miller testified that Trump told him to “fill” an initial request that came on January 3 from city officials in Washington D.C. for National Guard troops and to “do whatever is necessary to protect demonstrators that were executing their constitutionally protected rights.”
Nevertheless, Miller maintained he had the authority to deploy troops without further conversations with Trump. In response to questioning from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Miller said he became aware that crowds breached the area outside the Capitol at about 1:30 pm on January 6. He said DC requested help from the Guard about an hour later and he took “30 minutes” to respond by authorizing troops to deploy and clear the Capitol.
Ocasio-Cortez noted this “contradicted” the Department of Defense timeline, which indicated that authorization came after 4:30 pm, over an hour later than Miller indicated. Miller described this additional period as the time it took for the head of the D.C. National Guard to formulate a plan.
“That was nearly three hours after Mayor Bowser first requested National Guard assistance,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “Why did it take 92 minutes?”
Miller responded by saying “this is a great conversation.” Ocasio-Cortez also pointed to comments from the head of the D.C. Guard indicating he “finally received authorization” after 5 p.m. Miller attributed any discrepancies to the chaos of the day.
“The fog and friction, there was so much going on, so I could understand there was inconsistency and perhaps disagreement,” he said.
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FUN FACT - The Basking Shark, which is also known as the Greenland Shark, can grow to a length of over 25 feet, making it the second largest shark species. Basking sharks, which eat plankton and pose no threat to humans have remarkably long lifespans. A scientific study released in 2016 that tested the ages of multiple basking sharks found one that was over 400 years old and determined the species has “a life span of at least 272 years.”
There is no particular reason for today’s fact. I was just thinking about basking sharks and thought you should be too.
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