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Jan. 6 hearing to focus on Trump’s ‘state of mind’ around Capitol attack


(WASHINGTON) — The House Jan. 6 committee will once again dive into Donald Trump’s efforts to undermine the outcome of the 2020 presidential race in a public hearing just 25 days before Election Day.

The panel will reconvene at 1 p.m. on Thursday for what could be its final hearing before it releases a final report on its findings and recommendations to avoid any similar attacks in the future.

The hearing will focus on Trump’s “state of mind” leading up to and surrounding Jan. 6, 2021, committee aides told reporters.

“What you’re going to see is a synthesis of some evidence we’ve already presented with that new, never-before-seen information to, let’s say, illustrate Donald Trump’s centrality from the time prior to the election,” an aide said.

There will be no live witnesses, the aides said, but new witness testimony will be aired, as well as new documentary evidence and video footage showing efforts to respond to the violence.

New documents from the Secret Service will also be included in the hearing, aides said. The agency’s been under intense scrutiny over missing text messages from around the time of the insurrection, and after bombshell testimony about an alleged incident inside the presidential SUV on Jan. 6 involving Trump and members of his security detail.

“We have received a huge amount of information from the Secret Service. The Select Committee has reviewed much of that. And I imagine going forward there may be additional witnesses the Select Committee wants to hear from related to that, but I don’t have any. I don’t have any more details on that just now,” an aide said.

The aides would not say, despite multiple questions on the topic, what efforts had been taken to secure the testimony of Tony Ornato and Bobby Engel — two officials named by former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson in her testimony about the alleged episode in the presidential SUV after Trump’s rally at the Ellipse.

Hutchinson told the committee in live testimony that she heard the account from Ornato, a senior Secret Service official who was at the time White House deputy chief of staff for operations. Hutchinson said Ornato told her Trump was “irate” after being told he couldn’t join his supporters at the Capitol, going so far as to try to grab the steering wheel of the SUV and lunging towards Engel, who was driving. Hutchinson told the committee Engel was in the room as Ornato told the story, and that Ornato motioned toward his clavicles as he was talking about the lunge toward Engel.

After Hutchinson’s testimony, the Secret Service said it was cooperating with the House committee and was prepared for agents to provide sworn testimony in response. Ornato has since retired from the agency.

It’s been nearly three months since the panel met, and since then members have held closed-door interviews with former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and former Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.

Last month, the committee interviewed Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, over her efforts to push state officials to reject the outcome of the 2020 election. Thomas was also in contact with White House staffers, including Trump’s last chief of staff, Mark Meadows, about efforts to overturn the results.

Chair Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said Thomas told lawmakers she still believes the 2020 election was stolen and answered some questions but didn’t elaborate further on the content of the discussion.

It’s not clear if the committee will reveal more from her deposition on Thursday. Her interview was not video-recorded, only transcribed, so the committee could only use quotes from Thomas.

As the committee wraps up its investigation, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., told ABC News what he wants the public to take away from their work.

“That Jan. 6 was not a date in isolation,” Schiff said. “It was the violent culmination of multiple lines of effort to overturn the election.”

Schiff highlighted the efforts that were also the focus of several hearings this summer, including Trump’s pressure campaigns against state officials, against Vice President Mike Pence and against the Justice Department.

“It was only when all those other things failed, that Donald Trump resorted to inciting a mob to attack the Capitol. And so people, I think, need to see Jan. 6 in that broader context, but also realize that the danger to our democracy didn’t end that day because the big lie that led to the violence of that day continues to be propagated by Donald Trump and his enablers,” Schiff said.

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