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House committee prepares to hold its 8th public hearing on the events of Jan. 6

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

One hundred and eighty-seven minutes. That's how long it took President Trump to publicly call off the mob that attacked the U.S. Capitol on January 6.

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

Tonight's primetime hearing by the January 6 committee will focus on what the former president was and was not doing during that time.

MARTIN: NPR political correspondent Susan Davis joins us now for a preview. Hey, Sue.

SUSAN DAVIS, BYLINE: Hey, Rachel.

MARTIN: So this is a key part of the investigation, obviously. Who's testifying before the committee tonight?

DAVIS: Well, the committee has not actually confirmed the witnesses. But NPR confirmed with three sources that two former White House officials will appear in person. The first is former National Security Council member Matthew Pottinger and former Deputy White House Press Secretary Sarah Matthews. Matthews has appeared in past hearings in taped depositions. But Pottinger was one of the highest ranking White House officials to resign the same day as the January 6 attack. He was in the White House that day. He is believed to have been in direct contact with Trump that day. There's also going to be more additional tape testimony presented tonight from other witnesses. This hearing is being characterized as a summer capstone to the series of public hearings that's been held by the panel. These hearings have all sort of built up to this primetime one that goes directly at this question of, what was Trump doing? And how did he respond to the attack?

MARTIN: Previous hearings, though, have already outlined a lot of Trump's actions...

DAVIS: Yeah.

MARTIN: ...On that specific day, right? So what are the questions the committee is still trying to answer?

DAVIS: The committee has already established that in the months leading up to the January 6 attack, Trump was told repeatedly that the election was not stolen by his own inner circle and his own White House counsel. Hutchinson also testified that Trump knew many of the protesters were armed and he still urged them to go to the Capitol. As one committee aide said, this hearing will focus on the fact that Trump was, quote, "the sole person who could have called off the mob and he chose not to."

MARTIN: This may be a crazy question, but why doesn't the committee try to talk to Trump himself?

DAVIS: Yeah, I mean, they haven't actually ruled it out. This has been one of the big questions over the entire investigation. And committee aides were asked it again yesterday. They just said that the investigation will continue after this and that nothing is off the table.

MARTIN: So I mean, as you have noted, this is the end of this chapter of the public hearings. They have left the door open, though, for more what in the fall?

DAVIS: More hearings in the fall are absolutely possible. It's also likely that the committee issues an interim report before the election, possibly in September. A final report is expected before the end of the year. There is some urgency here. I mean, Republicans are heavily favored to take over the House in November. And they have a very clear intention to end this committee if or when that happens. So Democrats have until the end of the year, no matter what. Also, keep in mind, there's a trial underway for former Trump adviser Steve Bannon for refusing to comply with a committee subpoena. Depending on how that shakes out, it could open the door to Bannon testifying and providing documents to the panel that it's been seeking. And the verdict is expected in that case very soon.

MARTIN: NPR political correspondent Susan Davis. Thank you, Sue.

DAVIS: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Rachel Martin is a host of Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.
Susan Davis is a congressional correspondent for NPR and a co-host of the NPR Politics Podcast. She has covered Congress, elections, and national politics since 2002 for publications including USA TODAY, The Wall Street Journal, National Journal and Roll Call. She appears regularly on television and radio outlets to discuss congressional and national politics, and she is a contributor on PBS's Washington Week with Robert Costa. She is a graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., and a Philadelphia native.