Even his daughter Ivanka didn't believe Trump's claim of election fraud
Democratic-led panel seeks to show Trump conspired to stay in power unlawfully
WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - A congressional committee investigating the attack on the United States Capitol by then-president Donald Trump's supporters in an attempt to overturn his 2020 election defeat presented testimony on Thursday showing that close allies - even his daughter - rejected his false claims of voting fraud.
The US House of Representatives select committee probing the Jan 6, 2021, assault also showed graphic footage of thousands of rioters attacking police and smashing their way into the Capitol.
It was the first of six planned hearings intended to show that the Republican former president conspired to unlawfully hold on to power. The Democratic-led committee presented video of testimony from notable Trump administration figures including his daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner, Attorney-General William Barr, campaign spokesman Jason Miller and General Mark Milley.
A headline in the New York Times, echoed by many others, said: Et tu, Ivanka?
Mr Trump reacted by trying to explain it away. "Ivanka Trump was not involved in looking at, or studying, Election results. She had long since checked out and was, in my opinion, only trying to be respectful to Bill Barr and his position as Attorney General (he sucked!)," he said.
The hearing showed part of Mr Trump's incendiary speech before the attack in which he repeated false election fraud claims and directed his supporters' anger at then Vice-President Mike Pence, who was at the Capitol overseeing congressional certification of Democrat Joe Biden's election win - a process the riot failed to prevent.
Some congressional Republicans in the days after the attack condemned Mr Trump, but most have since changed their tune, supporting him and downplaying the day's violence.
Mr Trump has gone after Republicans who voted to impeach him for his actions, backing primary challengers to them ahead of the Nov 8 midterm elections that will determine control of Congress for the following two years.
Democratic committee chair Bennie Thompson said that Mr Trump was at the centre of a conspiracy to thwart American democracy and block the peaceful transfer of power.
"Jan 6 was the culmination of an attempted coup, a brazen attempt, as one writer put it shortly after Jan 6, to overthrow the government," Mr Thompson said. "The violence was no accident. It was Trump's last stand."
Mr Barr in videotaped testimony said: "I made it clear I did not agree with the idea of saying the election was stolen and putting out this stuff... And, you know, I didn't want to be a part of it."
Mr Barr's view convinced Mr Trump's daughter. "I respect Attorney-General Barr. So I accepted what he was saying," Ms Ivanka Trump said in videotaped testimony.
Mr Trump, who is publicly flirting with another White House run in 2024, issued a statement before the hearing calling the committee "political Thugs".
"Aware of the rioters' chants to 'hang Mike Pence,' the president responded with this sentiment: 'Well, maybe our supporters have the right idea'," said Representative Liz Cheney, one of the two Republicans on the nine-member panel and its vice-chairman.
Since leaving office last year, Mr Trump has kept up his false claims that his 2020 election loss to Mr Biden was the result of widespread fraud, an assertion rejected by numerous courts, state election officials and members of his own administration.
"We can't live in a world where the incumbent administration stays in power based on its view, unsupported by specific evidence, that there was fraud in the election," Mr Barr, who resigned about two weeks before the Capitol attack, said in the video.
Mr Kushner was shown on video dismissing threats by some Trump aides to resign after the riot as "whining".
The hearing also featured two witnesses who testified in person: US Capitol police officer Caroline Edwards, who sustained a brain injury in the attack, and Mr Nick Quested, a filmmaker who captured footage of the far-right Proud Boys group, accused of helping to plan the attack.
Ms Edwards said she was proud of fighting them off even after being injured. "I was slipping in people's blood," she said. "It was carnage. It was chaos."