By Ashok Nilakantan
New York, Jul 6 (IANS): The Senate House committee probing the Jan 6 "insurrection" on Capitol Hill has fixed the next date of hearing for July 12, six days from Wednesday, amid mounting and fresh evidence on how the pro-Trump mob was organised, assembled and financed.
USA Today reports that while no new witnesses have been named to appear, one of the panel's members, Democrat Adam Schiff of California, had said on "Face the Nation" last Sunday the hearing "will be focused on the efforts to assemble that mob on the mall, who was participating, who was financing it, how it was organised, including the participation of these white-nationalist groups like the Proud Boys, the Three Percenters and others."
To recall, The Proud Boys are a far-right extremist group that describes itself as "Western chauvinists" or "men who refuse to apologize for creating the modern world", according to the Department of Justice. The Southern Poverty Law Center designates the Proud Boys a hate group, citing white supremacist and racist rhetoric from many of its members.
Who are the Three Percenters? What is the gun-toting group? And what do its supporters want?
"The Three Percenters" is a diffuse, bottom-up militia, according to a 2017 Politico profile, with the group itself claiming inspiration from the "rough estimate" that only 3 per cent of American colonists took up arms against the British forces. The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups, calls Three Percenters an "anti-government" group with chapters claimed nationwide.
The new date of hearing for July 12 follows close on the heels of the devastating testimony from former Trump White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson, who implicated Trump personally in what appears to be an intentional conspiracy to incite an angry and armed mob on the Capitol to prevent the peaceful transfer of power and disrupt the election officials from announcing Joe Biden as the newly elected president.
The far-reaching criminal investigation into the Jan 6 riot has resulted in the arrests of more than 800 people on charges related to the Capitol breach. Of the total, about 250 have been charged with assaulting law enforcement officers or attempting to interfere with authorities, says USA Today.
Investigators also have been seeking evidence of suspects' possible connections with former President Donald Trump and members of his inner circle. During a September presidential 2020 debate, Trump declined to condemn extremist groups and called on the Proud Boys to "stand back and stand by".
The House select committee investigating Jan 6 has been holding a series of public hearings since last month related to its year-long inquiry into the events before, during and after the Jan 6, 2021, attack at the Capitol by pro-Trump rioters.
It has not yet been announced who will be testifying on July 12. The past hearings have stretched for several hours. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., a member of the panel, indicated over the last weekend that the next hearing would focus on the formation of the mob that ultimately descended on the Capitol last year, including the participation of several far-right groups. "Who was participating, who was financing it, how it was organised, including the participation of these white nationalist groups like the Proud Boys, the Three Percenters, and others," Schiff said on CBS News' "Face the Nation" last Sunday.
Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., who served as the lead impeachment manager for the House proceedings against then-President Donald Trump after the insurrection, is expected to play a prominent role. The last hearing featured a lengthy testimony from Cassidy Hutchinson, a former top aide to Trump's last White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows.
Hutchinson's appearance sparked days of criticism of Trump -- including from other conservatives -- after she testified that the former president was aware that attendees of his speech at the Ellipse earlier on Jan 6 were armed before he asked for security measures to be reduced and ultimately urged them to march to the Capitol. Hutchinson also testified that when the Secret Service would not take Trump to the Capitol after his speech, he lunged for the steering wheel of his SUV BEAST and then at the neck of a Secret Service agent.
Trump adamantly denied her account. The Secret Service said it would cooperate fully with the panel, "including by responding on the record," if investigators had any follow up questions over the alleged incident.
New questions arise after Cassidy Hutchinson's Jan 6 committee testimony.
Other hearings the committee has held have focused on the Capitol insurrection itself; on Trump allies' awareness that his voter fraud claims were false; and on the pressure campaign by Trump and those in his orbit to push states to not certify now-President Joe Biden's win, USA today recalled in its report.