The chairman of the House Jan. 6 committee opened a prime-time hearing Thursday by comparing the defense of the Capitol rioters to the defenders of the Ku Klux Klan in his home state of Mississippi.
“I’m from a part of the country where people justify the actions of slavery Klu Klux Klan and lynching and remain reminded of that dark history as I hear voices to try and justify the actions of the insurrection is on Jan. 6, 2021,” said Rep. Bennie G. Thompson, the committee’s Democratic chairman.
Mr. Thompson decried those in Congress who have tried to “whitewash” the riot and warned that American democracy remains threatened by those “who thirst for power.”
“There are those in this country who thirst for power but have no love or respect for what makes America great: devotion to the Constitution, allegiance to the rule of law, our shared journey to build a more perfect Union,” he said.
After nearly a year-long probe, the hearing marked the first of a series of televised events in which the committee intends to unpack its findings.
The panel made up of seven Democrats and two Republicans, all hand-picked by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, has mostly met behind closed doors, hearing testimony and collecting information from dozens of witnesses.
The committee’s members aim to use the hearing to showcase what they call “the coordinated, multi-step effort to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election and prevent the transfer of power.”
Republicans contend that the Democrat-led panel has weaponized the events of Jan. 6 and is using the committee to target conservatives.
Democrats insist the sole aim of the probe is to uncover the truth about what led to the Capitol riot to ensure a similar event never takes place again.
“We must confront the truth with candor resolve and determination,” Mr. Thompson said. “We need to show that we are worthy are the gifts that are the birthright of every American. That begins and it begins now.”