Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy of Florida, serving on the Jan. 6 committee, speaks to reporters Tuesday. Screenshot from Andrea Mitchell Reports
U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy, a Florida Democrat and one of nine members of the congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the nation’s Capitol, told reporters Tuesday that the day’s testimony shows President Donald Trump understood what was unfolding on Jan. 6 and did nothing to prevent it or stop it.
“Trump and his aides understood that the Jan. 6 protest could get violent. They understood the extent to which his supporters had arrived in Washington armed. And he called for them to go to the Capitol,” Murphy told CNN’s Jake Tapper following the bipartisan investigative committee’s sixth public hearing.
Murphy’s comments to reporters Tuesday were some of the most revealing so far of her viewpoints as a committee member.
In an excerpt from her interview with Tapper, Murphy described the faces of Capitol Police officers in the hearing chamber as they heard that Trump and White House aides knew the attackers approaching the Capitol were well armed, yet they did nothing to divert the mob nor fortify the officers’ defenses.
“I was sitting there looking at the faces of Officer [Daniel] Hodges and Officer [Harry] Dunn when that part of the testimony came out. To see them understand that the White House knew that these people were armed, that they were getting reports that the Capitol Police didn’t have enough [personnel] to stop these people, that the Capitol was getting breached — watching them respond and react to that information was quite impactful. It was betrayal at the highest levels.”
Five officers died in connection with the attack: one of injuries the next day and four by suicide in following months.
Murphy, who once served as national security specialist in the office of the U.S. Secretary of Defense, also told reporters on Andrea Mitchell Reports that she was stunned to hear Gen. Michael Flynn, formerly Trump’s national security adviser, refuse to affirm he believes in the peaceful transfer of power, as shown on video in the hearing Tuesday. Flynn invoked his Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination when asked that question.
“That was stunning to me. I’m somebody who used to work at the Department of Defense, and I know that the uniformed members are committed to the Constitution. They wouldn’t hesitate to answer that question regarding the peaceful transfer of power,” Murphy told reporters Andrea Mitchell and Katy Tur. “In fact, their jobs are to uphold the oath and ensure that that happens.”
Flynn also invoked his Fifth Amendment right to give no answer when asked whether he considered the Jan. 6 riots to be 1) morally indefensible and 2) legally indefensible.
“To hear him take the Fifth on such simple, fundamental questions about our Constitution when he is somebody who was a general in our U.S. military was just stunning to me,” Murphy said, adding that it demonstrates the power of the “cult of personality” to entice people, even a three-star general, to devote themselves to Trump and not to the “truth and the Constitution.”
Murphy said she considers it important for Trump’s former chief of staff Mark Meadows and others such as former White House Counsel Pat Cipollone who were close to Trump on and around Jan. 6 to testify before the congressional committee, although so far they have refused to do so.
“We have interviewed thousands of witnesses. We have received tens of thousands of documents. So we are putting together this picture whether they choose to be a patriot and participate in this investigation or not,” Murphy said.
Murphy also commented on suggestions by committee co-chairs Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat, and Liz Cheney, a Wyoming Republican, that people in “Trump world” are attempting to intimidate witnesses and potential witnesses to suppress the truth.
“There are folks out there who don’t want to see witnesses cooperating with the congressional investigation, so it is important to us that we are able to ensure that these folks [who would testify] are able to get the facts out there in front of the American people in a timely manner as we discover information,” Murphy said to reporters Tur and Mitchell.
“Our committee’s mission has always been to discover the facts, lay them out for the American people and for history, and also to provide legislative recommendations,” Murphy continued. “I think there’s a lot of areas that we can explore and provide legislative recommendations to make our capital, not just the physical Capitol behind me, but also our democracy safer.”
Jarring testimony Tuesday came from Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to Meadows who gave eyewitness accounts of what Meadows, Trump, and other White House officials were doing on Jan. 6 and in the days before it. Her testimony painted a damning picture that Trump and Meadows grasped the extent of the threats to the Capitol and to the peaceful transfer of power and facilitated them, as part of an effort to stop Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s presidential victory over Trump.
“What she had to say cuts across all of the lines … that we are presenting to the American people in Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 elections,” Murphy said of Hutchinson’s testimony.
“What you see is that Trump and his aides knew that there could be violence and then did nothing to stop it. They knew that the crowd had dangerous weapons and the president went out and made a speech encouraging them to come up to the Capitol. They knew that the Capitol police were having a hard time protecting the Capitol and they did nothing about it. And those [are] points and pieces of information that we will develop further in our future hearings.”
The investigative committee is expected to reconvene after the July 4 holiday.
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