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What to expect for the rest of the month of Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection hearings

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Last night, the House committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol launched a series of public hearings. During the primetime event, vice chair Liz Cheney made it clear that these hearings will show how former President Trump was responsible for the deadly insurrection. Here's Cheney summing up what the House select committee plans to lay out.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

LIZ CHENEY: On this point, there is no room for debate. Those who invaded our Capitol and battled law enforcement for hours were motivated by what President Trump had told them - that the election was stolen and that he was the rightful president. President Trump summoned the mob, assembled the mob and lit the flame of this attack.

CHANG: Joining us now to talk about this month of hearings is NPR's Deirdre Walsh. Hey, Deirdre.

DEIRDRE WALSH, BYLINE: Hey, Ailsa.

CHANG: All right. So last night was kind of like the opening night for the committee, which is going to be holding a total of, like, seven hearings, right?

WALSH: Right.

CHANG: What did we learn last night about what might be lying ahead, do you think?

WALSH: Well, Cheney led a very methodical and effective overview of the evidence that the panel has gathered over months. And she gave a roadmap for what to expect, what will come. She said the panel is going to show that there was a seven-part plan by former President Trump and his associates to try to overturn the 2020 election results. The committee used video clips of members of Trump's own inner circle to show that they had told him, some starting soon after the election in November, that there was no election fraud. But he kept pushing the big lie.

Cheney also teased out some pretty damning clips from interviews the committee did with former Attorney General Bill Barr, Trump's daughter Ivanka and Trump loyalists like Jason Miller. He was on the Trump campaign, and he told the committee that he told President Trump after the election the votes weren't there and he lost. We can expect to hear more from those close to Trump and close to former Vice President Mike Pence over the next month.

CHANG: OK. Tell me more about that. What do we know so far about the plan for next week's hearings?

WALSH: Well, next week there are going to be three hearings. On Monday they're going to focus on Trump's attempt to litigate the election results in court. Former Fox News political editor Chris Stirewalt - he was fired from Fox News for making the call that Biden won Arizona on election night. He announced he's going to testify on Monday. On Wednesday, the committee is going to focus about the plan to put pressure on the Justice Department to pursue claims about election fraud. NPR's Carrie Johnson has confirmed that former acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, who replaced Bill Barr, is going to appear along with two other DOJ officials. And on Thursday we're going to hear a lot of detail about how Trump and his allies pressured former Vice President Mike Pence to try to get him to refuse to certify the election.

CHANG: OK. So clearly, these hearings are all about, ultimately, one person - former President Trump. How has he been reacting to these hearings so far?

WALSH: He is not happy. On his conservative social media account, he blasted the committee. He called Barr stupid. He said that his daughter, Ivanka Trump, who was a senior White House adviser for him, had, quote, "long since checked out" and wasn't involved in looking at the election results. And he claims that she was being respectful when she told the committee on camera, that we saw last night, that she accepted Bill Barr's conclusion that there were no election irregularities.

CHANG: I want to ask you, Deirdre, because you've been following this investigation for a while. You've been covering Congress for even longer than that. I'm so curious. What is the one thing you'll be listening for in all of these hearings?

WALSH: I mean, the one thing that really stuck out last night was Cheney mentioning that Republican Congressman Scott Perry had approached the Trump administration about getting a possible presidential pardon after January 6. Cheney also said other GOP lawmakers sought pardons. Perry has denied that he asked for a pardon. He's also refused to cooperate with the committee. After the hearing last night, Bennie Thompson said that the panel had documentation that the names of other Republicans in Congress who sought pardons is going to come out in the future hearings.

CHANG: That is NPR's Deirdre Walsh. Thank you, Deirdre.

WALSH: Thanks, Ailsa. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Deirdre Walsh is the congress editor for NPR's Washington Desk.