What You Need to Know as the January 6 Hearings Begin

The storming of the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021, was akin to what medical professionals call a “sentinel event:” something unexpected involving serious injury to or death of a patient. Such events offer warnings about systemic problems that could lead to future crises. In response, doctors undertake a “root cause analysis” to prevent future events.

For the last 11 months, the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol has been performing its own root cause analysis, piecing together the story of what happened—before, during, and after the attack itself—and why. Over the next two weeks, the committee will present the findings of its investigation for the first time. The first of six hearings is Thursday at 8 p.m. eastern. The nine committee members and their staff, including professional prosecutors serving as investigative counsel, will present new evidence and hear witness testimony related to the events on and surrounding January 6. 

On Tuesday, the committee said that witnesses for the first hearing will include Caroline Edwards, a Capitol Police officer who was “the first law enforcement officer injured by rioters storming the Capitol grounds,” and Nick Quested, a British documentarian whose camera was rolling during “the first moments of violence against U.S. Capitol Police, and the chaos that ensued.”

The committee has been a lightning rod for partisan controversy since its inception last July, after a proposed bipartisan commission to investigate January 6 passed the House but failed to overcome a Republican filibuster in the Senate. Only two Republican representatives—Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger—voted for the resolution creating the House committee. 

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