Former Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson said on Sunday that the recent congressional hearings on the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol have been a “profile in courage” for the women who have taken center stage.
During an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Johnson named Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), former White House aide Cassidy Hutchison, and Capitol Police officer Caroline Edwards.
“I have to begin with this. While a lot of men are hiding under their desk in lawyers’ offices, this hearing has really been a profile in courage among women: Caroline Edwards, Cass Hutchinson, and Liz Cheney,” Johnson told moderator Chuck Todd during the show’s roundtable discussion.
“I think that this hearing has been choreographed exceptionally well for the attention span of the average American in 2022,” he added.
Hutchinson, who was an assistant to former President Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows, featured in a bombshell hearing last week, testifying that the president and senior members of the White House were repeatedly warned about potential violence on Jan. 6 and were aware that some protesters were armed when Trump sent them to the Capitol building.
Cheney, as vice chair of the committee and one of two Republicans on the panel, has faced intense blowback from her party and is up against a Trump-backed challenger in her House race in Wyoming.
Edwards, who was among two witnesses in the first Jan. 6 public hearing, provided a vivid description of the violent mob as it overtook police outside the Capitol, calling it a “war scene” and adding “I saw friends with blood all over their faces. I was slipping in people’s blood.”
The House select committee has placed Trump at the center of efforts to overturn the 2020 election, and Johnson said on Sunday he sees a criminal case being developed during the hearings.
However, he expressed concern about one part of Hutchinson’s testimony, in which she provided a second-hand account of Trump attempting to grab the steering wheel and lunging at the driver in an attempt to join the mob on Jan. 6.
Secret Service agents in the vehicle are reportedly willing to deny the claims, which were relayed to Hutchinson by other White House officials.
“I’m concerned as the former federal prosecutor in me – that gets you a lot of cred these days on television – I’m concerned that the committee may have overreached on the incident in the vehicle,” Johnson added. “It was colorful, it was vivid, it was collateral to the central charge. If – and it was secondhand hearsay.”
The House panel held six televised public hearings last month on the capitol insurrection, which resulted in the deaths of five people.
Cheney said told ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday that the committee may recomment criminal charges against Trump, but noted that the Department of Justice (DOJ) will make the ultimate decision on the matter.