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Ties between Trump allies and extremist groups to be focus of Jan. 6 panel hearing

The Jan. 6 committee will resume public hearings Tuesday, continuing to make the case that former President Donald Trump instigated the riot in a bid to hold on to power.
Image: Pro-Trump supporters on the steps of the Capitol in Washington following a rally with President Donald Trump on Jan. 6, 2021.
Pro-Trump supporters on the steps of the Capitol in Washington after a rally with President Donald Trump on Jan. 6, 2021.Samuel Corum / Getty Images file

The Jan. 6 committee on Tuesday plans to demonstrate how right-wing militia groups that led the assault on the U.S. Capitol were connected to key Trump allies, including Roger Stone and Michael Flynn, who were at the center of the plot to overturn the 2020 election.

“We’ll show how some of these right-wing extremist groups who came to D.C. and led the attack on the Capitol had ties to Trump associates, including Roger Stone and General Flynn,” a committee aide said Monday on a conference call with reporters.

“And we know that both members of the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys have been charged with seditious conspiracy by the DOJ in relation to their actions on Jan. 6.”

The hearing will also include clips of taped testimony from Trump White House counsel Pat Cipollone, multiple sources told NBC News. Cipollone met with the panel Friday for around eight hours and was involved in a Dec. 18, 2020, meeting at the White House that included members of Trump’s outside and internal White House legal teams, as well as the president.

In linking the domestic extremist groups and the Trump inner circle that was aggressively working to overturn Joe Biden’s election victory, the committee is making the case that actions by President Donald Trump and his allies resulted in the violence at the Capitol, which claimed the lives of both police officers and Trump supporters.

Aides said the hearing will also reveal ties between some Trump associates and the QAnon movement, which subscribes to a set of bizarre, sometimes antisemitic conspiracy theories in which Trump is viewed as a savior fighting the evil forces of the deep state.

Tuesday’s hearing, the committee’s seventh public hearing in this series, will be led by Reps. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., and Jamie Raskin, D-Md. A former spokesman for the Oath Keepers, Jason Van Tatenhove, is among several witnesses who are expected to testify live, although the Jan. 6 panel declined to name them for security reasons.

Another witness expected to testify, according to a source familiar with the matter, is Stephen Ayres of Ohio, who posted the former president’s tweet encouraging supporters to go to Washington on Jan. 6 before he stormed the Capitol. Ayres pleaded guilty last month to disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building, but he has not been sentenced.

Specifically, panel members will be zeroing in on a key date: Dec. 19, 2020.

That was the day Trump — fighting to stay in power despite his election loss — convened a White House meeting with other allies promoting the lie that the election had been rigged and stolen: Rudy Giuliani, lawyer Sidney Powell and Flynn, his former national security adviser. They discussed topics like seizing voting machines or Trump’s appointing Powell as a special counsel to investigate election fraud.

Moments after the meeting, Trump informed his millions of followers on Twitter that he would hold a rally in Washington on Jan. 6 to protest the election results. “Be there, will be wild!” he tweeted — which Murphy described as a “siren call” for violent extremists.

A committee aide said: “The Proud Boys are part of that extremist coalition, including violent militias, hard-line political figures, all invested in the illegal pressure campaign to overturn the election. So they immediately started answering his call by zeroing in on that date the president mentioned in that tweet on Jan. 6 as the final opportunity to come and support President Trump.”

Another hearing that had been expected to be held in prime time Thursday has been postponed until next week. That hearing is still expected to focus on what Trump was doing while the Capitol was under attack.

Asked whether more hearings could be held later this year, a committee aide would not rule anything out.

“What I would just say broadly is that the select committee’s investigation is ongoing. We continue to take in more information on a daily basis. We continue to hear from witnesses. We continue to uncover new facts,” the aide said. “And so I think it would be premature to take anything off the table in terms of what may happen down the road.”

The committee will need to publish a report on its findings, likely before the November midterm elections.

CORRECTION (July 12, 2022, 9:10 a.m. ET): A previous version of this article misattributed a quote characterizing a Trump tweet as a “siren call” for violent extremists. The quote was from Rep. Stephanie Murphy, not Rep. Jamie Raskin.