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Arkansas Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson said former President Donald Trump is “politically” and “morally” but not criminally responsible for the Jan. 6, 2021, mob attack on the U.S. Capitol.
During an appearance on “Fox News Sunday,” Hutchinson said the Jan. 6 select committee’s investigation into the attack is an “important review” of what happened that day, and that Trump bears some responsibility. But the committee “has a long way to go” if it wants to establish criminal liability.
“I’ve always said we need to do this. This isn’t the most bipartisan effort in it, but it is a review that is important,” Hutchinson said. “Now the whole premise of the hearing is that President Trump is criminally responsible, and that’s the case they’re trying to make. As Bill Barr has said, I think that is a heavy lift. I don’t see the factual basis for that.”
“You can make the case, and I would agree, that he’s politically, morally responsible for much of what has happened, but in terms of criminal liability, I think the committee has a long way to go before they could establish that,” he continued. “I think the key thing politically is that the American public does not want us to focus on the past. It’s an important review, but I think the Democrats make a mistake if they simply want to re-litigate what they did in the impeachment.”
Hutchinson said Trump made a “costly error” for the Republican Party by his handling of the attack and that he hopes the party moves in a different direction than under the former president.
“I hope that the future of the Republican Party is different than [under] President Trump’s leadership,” he said. “I hope we move in a different direction. I believe that what happened on January 6 is a lot at his feet.”
“Obviously, what President Trump, there’s a lot of things that he did that were very good that the base and I agree with, but he got off track on January 6, and that was a costly error for our democracy,” he added. “I think Republicans need to do a lot of soul-searching as to what is the right thing here, what is the right thing to say for our party and our democracy and our future, and not simply appeal to the instincts of some of our base.”
The committee, made up of 7 Democrats and 2 Republicans, including Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., and Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., held its first primetime hearing late Thursday evening as part of its investigation into what led to the Jan. 6 attack. The select committee played a never-before-seen video of the graphic events, as well as videos of interviews and depositions with former top Trump officials.
“President Trump summoned the mob, assembled the mob and lit the flame of this attack,” Cheney, the committee vice chair, said during her opening statement.
Additional hearings are announced for Monday and Wednesday.