Jan. 6 hearings target current GOP officeholders along with Trump: The Note

Honor as well as political futures are at stake.

June 10, 2022, 6:03 AM

The TAKE with Rick Klein

What happened is not solely in the past -- and is not only about former President Donald Trump, either.

Thursday's primetime opening by the House Jan. 6 committee targeted Trump directly -- in part by using the words of his family members and close associates to make the case that Trump and those around him knew he lost but fomented violence anyway.

Perhaps just as striking was the focus on GOP lawmakers who appear to have enabled and, in many cases, continue to excuse the lawlessness around that horrific day. Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., offered the startling revelation that multiple House members reached out to the Trump White House in its final days to request pardons for their roles in trying to overturn the election -- at least a tacit admission that they knew what they had done was wrong.

PHOTO: A view of the room as the U.S House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the United States Capitol holds its first public hearing, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., June 9, 2022.
A view of the room as the U.S House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the United States Capitol holds its first public hearing, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., June 9, 2022.
Jabin Botsford/Pool via Reuters

Cheney addressed her fellow Republicans directly: "There will come a day when Donald Trump is gone. But your dishonor will remain."

Honor as well as political futures are at stake -- not least for Cheney, who is facing a Trump-backed primary opponent later this summer and whose service on the committee continues to leave her colleagues fuming.

Then there are the stakes for democracy. Just in the hours leading up to Thursday's hearing, a GOP candidate for governor in Michigan was arrested for alleged participation in the Jan. 6 riot; House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy refused to say whether he believes the 2020 election was stolen; and Trump himself called the Jan. 6 protest "the greatest movement in the history of our country."

Grabbing the attention of the American public is no small task, for the committee or anyone else in the political arena. But the stakes aren't small either -- and, as Cheney and Chairman Bennie Thompson made clear, aren't solely about the former president's actions or potential future.

The RUNDOWN with Averi Harper

Former Ambassador and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley is hitting the campaign trail with Republican Rep. Nancy Mace in the final days before the state's primary on Tuesday.

Haley's endorsement puts her, a potential Republican presidential contender, opposite former President Donald Trump, who has endorsed Mace's opponent.

"Nancy Mace is tough as nails," Haley said in a campaign ad released last month."She won this seat from a liberal Democrat and she'll keep it Republican."

PHOTO: Diplomat and politician, Nikki Haley visits Fox News Channel Studios on April 6, 2022, in New York City.
Diplomat and politician, Nikki Haley visits Fox News Channel Studios on April 6, 2022, in New York City.
John Lamparski/Getty Images

Trump endorsed Katie Arrington after Mace blamed him for rhetoric she said caused the Jan. 6 attack at the Capitol. In his endorsement of Arrington, Trump said Mace was "an absolutely terrible candidate" and also "disloyal." It came in spite of Mace's February social media post that featured a recording of her outside Trump Tower in New York City praising Trump in a plea for support.

Mace has the backing of both GOP leadership, such as Reps. Kevin McCarthy and Steve Scalise, and conservative groups, including the NRA and Club for Growth. But it remains to be seen if she'll fend off her Trump-backed challenger.

The TIP with Alisa Wiersema

Michigan's political landscape was rocked by scandal yet again on Thursday, when Republican gubernatorial candidate Ryan Kelley was arrested over his role in the Jan. 6 attack last year.

Kelley was taken into custody in Allendale, where he lives, and faces four misdemeanor charges "stemming from the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol breach," according to prosecutors, ABC News' Alex Mallin reports. A law enforcement official told ABC News that Kelley was arrested at his home. While court documents do not accuse Kelley of entering the Capitol itself, he is charged with being on restricted grounds, engaging in disorderly conduct and other misdemeanors.

The arrest happened the morning before the House committee tasked with investigating the insurrection was set to hold its first public hearing. In a possible preview of how those hearings will play out across party lines, Ron Weiser, who serves as chair of the Michigan Republican Party, issued a politically combative statement in response to the arrest, claiming "Democrats are weaponizing our justice system in an unprecedented way against their political opponents."

The arrest comes on the heels of additional fallout among candidates in the state's Republican gubernatorial field. Five GOP candidates -- who campaigned in favor of election integrity -- are now blocked from appearing on the ballot after election officials discovered a large number of fraudulent signatures on their nominating petition filings. One of the five candidates, Michael Brown, withdrew from the race last month.

Michigan election officials outlined their findings in a report, saying they "identified 36 petition circulators who submitted fraudulent petition sheets consisting entirely of invalid signatures." In total, the state bureau of elections estimates "at least 68,000 invalid signatures [were] submitted across 10 sets of nominating petitions."

Kevin Rinke and Garrett Soldano -- two of the GOP gubernatorial candidates remaining on the ballot -- appeared to express support for Kelley on Thursday. In a tweet, Rinke said he hopes "that the FBI is acting appropriately, because the timing here raises serious questions." Meanwhile, Soldano alleged "the FBI has become an arm of the Democrat Party."

THE PLAYLIST

ABC News' "Start Here" Podcast. Start Here begins Friday morning with the first public hearing of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. ABC's Karen Travers leads us off with key moments from the hearing and ABC's Rick Klein offers his analysis. Later, ABC's James Longman checks in with an update from Ukraine on the three foreign fighters sentenced to death in Russian-occupied territory. http://apple.co/2HPocUL

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW THIS WEEKEND

  • President Joe Biden delivers remarks on inflation in Los Angeles, California, at 1:45 p.m. EST. He’ll then join heads of delegation to adopt a migration declaration. At 4:30 p.m. EST, Biden takes a family photo with heads of delegation at the Summit of the Americas. Later this evening, Biden participates in a reception for the Democratic National Committee.
  • When We All Vote's 'Culture of Democracy Summit' begins and lasts through Monday. Former first lady Michele Obama is the keynote speaker.
  • On Saturday, Alaska holds a special primary election to fill the state's only House seat.
  • ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos": Roundtable: ABC News Chief Justice Correspondent Pierre Thomas, ABC News Senior White House Correspondent Mary Bruce, ABC News Political Director Rick Klein, Washington Post Congressional Reporter Marianna Sotomayor.

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The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the day's top stories in politics. Please check back next week for the latest.

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