Former president Donald Trump hit out at the January 6 committee following its first public hearing on Thursday evening and repeated falsehoods about the 2020 election.
In a statement posted on his social media network Truth Social, Mr Trump called the committee investigating the attack on the US Capitol “political hacks”.
“So the Unselect Committee of political HACKS refuses to play any of the many positive witnesses and statements, refuses to talk of the Election Fraud and Irregularities that took place on a massive scale, and decided to use a documentary maker from Fake News ABC to spin only negative footage. Our Country is in such trouble!” he wrote.
Mr Trump’s outburst came as the committee investigating January 6 and the attack on Congress opened with bombshell video footage that showed a number of his most trusted aides and advisers, including his daughter Ivanka Trump, explaining that they knew the election was not stolen.
The president’s eldest daughter was in one of the first videos played by committee members during their opening statements at Thursday’s hearing; during Rep Liz Cheney’s remarks, the congresswoman showed Ms Trump, a White House aide, explaining how she accepted Attorney General Bill Barr’s assertion that the election had been fair and free of fraud.
“I respected AG Barr, and accepted what he was saying,” Ms Trump told the committee in her recorded testimony.
Her words directly conflict with the ex-president’s numerous falsehoods about the 2020 election, which he still refuses to accept that he lost, and proves that Mr Trump’s inner circle was warning him that he was spreading misinformation long before January 6.
The video followed several other videos of Trump insiders making similar statements.
Among them was Jason Miller, a Trump campaign surrogate, who explained how the campaign’s data team knew even as election results were rolling in that the president was going to lose, and lose badly.
Mr Trump earlier defended the deadly riot at the US Capitol, which saw thousands of his supporters storm the seat of American democracy in an attempt to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s election victory.
"January 6th was not simply a protest, it represented the greatest movement in the history of our Country to Make America Great Again," he said, also on his Truth Social platform.
The January 6 committee’s vice chair, Liz Cheney, said the public would soon hear testimony from former Trump staffers about the former president’s actions that day, including claims that he expressed support for followers that wanted to hang Mike Pence.
As thousands of Mr Trump’s supporters were storming the US Capitol and chants of “hang Mike Pence” rang out from the angry mob, Ms Cheney said the then-president told advisors that his vice president “deserves it.”
“You will hear that president Trump was yelling. He was really angry at advisors that told him he needed to be doing something more,” she said in the committee’s first public hearing.
“And aware of the rioter’s chants to hang Mike Pence, the president responded with this sentiment: ‘Maybe our supporters have the right idea. Mike Pence deserves it.’”
Other Republicans joined Mr Trump in criticising the hearings. House minority leader Kevin McCarthy tweeted just as they were beginning: “As Democrats in Washington abuse their power to attack their political opponents, they are ignoring America’s crime crisis.”
Elise Stefanik, a GOP congresswoman from New York, said “constituents ask me about the historic gas prices, skyrocketing inflation, and the baby formula shortage. Why aren’t Democrats holding primetime hearings about these crises impacting the American people? Because the Democrats only care about their partisan witch-hunt.”
There were some departures from the chorus, however. Mick Mulvaney, Mr Trump’s former acting chief of staff, called the video evidence “damning.”
"My takeaway: the critical thing tonight was the video. Because as biased as the committee is — and it absolutely is — you cannot say the same thing about the video."
"The video was extraordinarily damning of the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers. Of course, many of them have (rightly) been charged with crimes. The key is going to be whether their activity can be tied to anyone at the White House. We haven’t seen anything on that yet."