Proud Boys documentarian to be among first Jan. 6 witnesses
WASHINGTON (AP) — The House panel investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol will open a series of hearings focusing on far-right extremists who broke into the building, with testimony from a documentary filmmaker who recorded the riot and a Capitol Police officer who was one of the first people injured in the attack.
The panel announced Tuesday that the witnesses at Thursday night’s prime-time hearing will be British filmmaker Nick Quested, who recorded members of the far-right Proud Boys as they stormed the building, and Caroline Edwards, a U.S. Capitol Police officer who was seriously injured as the rioters, including members of the Proud Boys, shoved past police officers and forced their way into the Capitol.
In announcing the witnesses, the committee said it would “present previously unseen material documenting January 6th, receive witness testimony, and provide the American people an initial summary of its findings about the coordinated, multi-step effort to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election and prevent the transfer of power.”
The hearing is expected to be a broad, multimedia overview of the committee’s findings and a reminder to the public of the violence of the day, with other hearings in the coming weeks diving into more specifics of the planning behind the attack. In its yearlong investigation the committee has conducted more than 1,000 interviews.
The committee has reached out to a group of Trump-era Justice Department officials, including Jeffrey Rosen, the acting attorney general at the time of the riot, about having them as witnesses, according to a person familiar with the matter who insisted on anonymity to discuss private conversations.
Lawmakers are focused not only on the extremist groups that were among the rioters, but also on President Donald Trump’s actions at the White House while the mob of his supporters beat law enforcement officers and broke into the building. They have also investigated Trump’s efforts to overturn the election in the weeks before the attack, including pressure on state officials.
Quested, a British filmmaker who also witnessed some of the Proud Boys’ planning before the attack on the Capitol, was present for some of the most extraordinary events that took place that day. He accompanied members of the extremist group as they walked to the Capitol from Trump’s morning speech in front of the White House, as they broke through police barriers and eventually into the building, and as hundreds of Trump’s supporters moved through the Capitol to protest his defeat. Quested confirmed to The Associated Press on Monday that he would be a witness.
Quested also filmed Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, then the leader of the Proud Boys, the night before when Tarrio met in an underground Washington garage with Elmer “Stewart” Rhodes, the founder and leader of the Oath Keepers, another extremist group present at the riot. The video did not record the conversation but shows the two meeting in the garage with other members of the groups.
Tarrio and other members of the group were charged on Monday with seditious conspiracy for what federal prosecutors say was a coordinated attack to stop Congress from certifying President Joe Biden’s 2020 electoral victory. Rhodes was indicted on similar charges earlier this year.
Quested, who was filming the group as part of a documentary about extremism in America, was interviewed by the committee behind closed doors in recent weeks and has turned over some of his video to the panel. He said he was also interviewed by the Justice Department, which is prosecuting hundreds of cases related to the insurrection.
The panel is expected to play some of Quested’s documentary footage. Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, a member of the committee, said Tuesday that in terms of video, much of what the committee will present is “things that you have not seen directly before.”
Edwards was one of the first officers to be injured on the West front of the Capitol as the crowd — led by members of the Proud Boys — began to push inside. She suffered a head injury and said afterward that officers need better support.
The committee said that Edwards patrolled the West plaza even after suffering the brain injury “and prevented many rioters from entering the Capitol building.” Her injuries have since prevented her from returning to the first responders unit, the panel said, but she is expected to join the unit again this year.
Federal authorities have linked more than three dozen people charged in the Capitol siege to the Proud Boys. Its members describe it as a politically incorrect men’s club for “Western chauvinists.”
Associated Press writers Eric Tucker and Farnoush Amiri contributed to this report.
For full coverage of the Jan. 6 hearings, go to https://www.apnews.com/capitol-siege