The Jan. 6 committee’s insurrection supercut is a harrowing reminder of how close we came to disaster.
On Thursday evening, the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection premiered a harrowing chronological montage of footage from that day, featuring never-before-seen footage of what committee chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) dubbed an “attempted coup” and compelling evidence that former President Donald Trump was the central animating force behind the violence.
Comprised of scenes filmed from both the rioters’ and Capitol Police’s perspectives, the video showed how insurrectionists — including organized columns of neo-fascist street gangs, such as the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers — prepared for and executed their breach of the Capitol Building while a dramatically outnumbered cadre of law enforcement officials pleaded for support. Throughout it all, the video made special note to highlight the line between Trump’s rhetoric that day and the actions of the mob — including, at one point, a particularly chilling moment in which an insurrectionist reads one of the former president’s tweets condemning then-Vice President Mike Pence aloud through a megaphone, after which the swarm of seditionists began calling for overt violence against Pence. (Warning: This footage features moments of graphic violence and swearing.)
Adding to the already distressing experience of seeing firsthand just how close the insurrectionists came to succeeding in their aim of overthrowing the government, Thompson preceded the footage by noting in his opening remarks that the committee’s investigation found that “aware of the rioters’ chants to ‘hang Mike Pence,’ the president responded with this sentiment, ‘Maybe our supporters have the right idea. Mike Pence ‘deserves’ it.”
With a year and a half of distance between Trump’s attempted coup and today, it’s understandable that the intimate shock and horror of the violence of Jan. 6 would fade from our memories. Perhaps more than any other moment in Thursday’s hearing, the committee’s video served as a chilling reminder of just how extreme and unprecedented the attempted coup was — and how close it came to succeeding.