Four takeaways from Thursday's US Capitol riot hearing

A video of then President-elect Joe Biden calling for an end to the January 6, 2021 violence during the hearing, on July 21, 2022. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - Thursday's (July 21) congressional committee hearing into the Jan 6, 2021, Capitol riot by supporters of Donald Trump featured minute-by-minute accounts of the then-president's actions - and inaction - as his supporters launched a violent attack.

Here are four takeaways from the hearing:

Hawley raises fist, then runs away

The committee showed a well-known image of conservative Republican Senator Josh Hawley, who is thought to be eyeing a run for president, outside the Capitol raising his arm, hand balled into a fist, to encourage the gathering angry crowds still being held behind security lines.

While that image was familiar, indeed one that Hawley has used to raise money, the committee followed up with new images: Multiple video clips of Hawley running from the rioters, first fleeing across a hallway and later down a flight of steps.

The hearing room, packed with reporters, congressional aides, security staff and visitors broke into laughter as the footage was played.

Saying goodbye to families

US Vice-President Mike Pence hid in his ceremonial office on the second floor of the Senate as rioters pushed closer and closer, as seen in videos shown at the hearing.

There was smoke in a nearby hallway as US Capitol Police tried to corral a group of attackers, and Secret Service agents desperately tried to figure out whether they could safely evacuate Pence to another location on the Capitol grounds.

"The security detail of the vice-president was starting to fear for their own lives," one anonymous White House security official testified on video played at the hearing.

Rioters were just feet away, the official testified, adding that agents were "screaming and saying goodbye to family."

Pence ultimately was hurried to a Capitol loading dock.

Trump 'chose' not to stop the riot

Representative Adam Kinzinger, one of two Republicans on the House's select committee, portrayed a president who was satisfied with the violence he watched unfolding at the Capitol on Jan 6.

"The mob was accomplishing President Trump's purpose, so of course he didn't intervene" to stop the violence until more than three hours after it had begun, Kinzinger said.

"President Trump did not fail to act during the 187 minutes between leaving the Ellipse and telling the mob to go home. He chose not to act."

Trump made no calls to top officials

High-ranking officials, including then-White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, testified on pre-recorded videotape that the president watched television for hours during the Capitol riot in the White House dining room.

They said that they were not aware of Trump making phone calls to Cabinet heads, including the secretaries of defence and homeland security, the attorney general or the National Guard, all of whom could have aided in stopping the violence on Capitol Hill.

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