Democracy ‘at Risk,’ Probe Chairman Says, Opening Polarizing Public Hearing on Jan. 6

The chairman of the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol breach and Donald Trump’s alleged role in it opened Thursday’s prime-time hearing declaring that a series of election falsehoods led to the attack and put “two and a half centuries of constitutional democracy at risk.”

Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said “the world is watching” the U.S. response to the panel’s yearlong investigation into the Capitol riot and the extraordinary effort by many protesters on that day in 2021 to stop Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s election victory over former President Trump.

“America has long been expected to be a shining city on a hill. A beacon of hope and freedom,” Thompson said. “How can we play that role when our own house is in such disorder? We must confront the truth with candor, resolve and determination.”

The committee was presenting what it billed as never-before-seen video and a mass of other evidence, aiming to show the “harrowing story” of the violence that day. It has also been trying to gain traction with the narrative that Trump, the defeated president, tried to overturn Biden’s election victory. (Recent polls on prospective candidates for 2024 suggest Trump’s popularity, and supporters’ confidence in his leadership, remain undiminished despite the long-running investigation.)

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