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The Jan. 6 committee will look at the role far-right groups played during the riot

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

In its seventh public hearing today, the committee probing the January 6 attack examines the role of right-wing extremist groups.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

A big question today is, just how organized was that seemingly chaotic assault on democracy? The panel is examining how groups prepared their members to march on the Capitol. And another question looms behind that. Just how close was then President Trump to the organizing?

MARTIN: NPR congressional correspondent Deirdre Walsh joins us this morning. Hey, Deirdre.

DEIRDRE WALSH, BYLINE: Hey, Rachel.

MARTIN: So we've already seen some video footage from a filmmaker who was actually embedded with one of these extremist groups, the Proud Boys, in an earlier hearing. What's going to happen today?

WALSH: We're going to hear more about the lead-up to January 6 and how the former president's focus shifted in mid-December after other efforts, like legal challenges in some states or pressuring Vice President Pence, failed. And then the focus was on this final stage of trying to overturn the election by stopping the counting of the electoral votes in Congress. We're going to hear more about the roles of the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers. We should note, some members of these groups have already been charged with seditious conspiracy.

MARTIN: Right.

WALSH: But select committee aides say today's hearing is also going to get into the conspiracy theories of the Qanon movement. The panel is going to show how some Trump associates, like General Mike Flynn, had connections to Qanon. This time, the panel wouldn't name who's appearing in person. They're citing security concerns about harassment for these witnesses. But NPR has confirmed that former Oath Keepers spokesman Jason Van Tatenhove is going to appear today. He's already testified three times behind closed doors. And he did an interview recently saying he's going to give a historical overview of the group and the threat that they pose.

MARTIN: So he's someone who would have a unique perspective, having been part of the group, now out. So as Steve noted, I mean, a big question in all of this is how directly the committee can tie the activities of these groups to President Trump - right? - to former President Trump.

WALSH: Right. They're trying to connect the dots between these groups and this effort to overturn the election. They point to evidence that links the planning of January 6 to close allies of President Trump, people like Roger Stone. But it's unclear right now if they have additional evidence that shows that Trump knew specifically about the plans to use violence as a means to stop the count on January 6. Maryland Democratic Congressman Jamie Raskin told CBS on Sunday, they're focusing on a tweet that Trump sent just one day after a group of lawyers and others were meeting to discuss this plan to stop the count. Raskin notes that Trump urged supporters on December 19 in this tweet to come to D.C. on January 6 and says, It's going to be wild. Here's Raskin.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JAMIE RASKIN: The first time in American history when a president of the United States called a protest against his own government, in fact, to try to stop the counting of Electoral College votes in a presidential election he had lost.

MARTIN: So this is what's happening today. But we need to clarify, Deirdre, the committee was supposed to have two hearings this week, right? But the other one has now been canceled. What happened?

WALSH: Right. They were prepping for a hearing on Thursday, one that was going to drill down on what Trump was doing during the hours when the Capitol came under siege. But now that session's been rescheduled for next week. Committee aides say they continue to get new information. And they want more time for members and their investigators to assess it and sort it out, how it's going to help them tell the story about what was going on around the insurrection. But the other thing that's sort of unclear about next week is whether that hearing is going to be the last public hearing before we see the committee's report this fall. You know, Rachel, this committee has made plans before and changed them.

MARTIN: NPR's Deirdre Walsh. Deirdre, we appreciate you. Thank you.

WALSH: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Deirdre Walsh is the congress editor for NPR's Washington Desk.
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