Rep. Cori Bush, left emotional at Jan. 6 committee hearing, offers plea to Black voters

TheGrio was in the room as the select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol attack presented damning evidence against Trump and far-right extremist groups.

The mood inside the Cannon Caucus Room on Capitol Hill was somber Thursday as the Select Committee to Investigate the Jan. 6 Attack on the U.S. Capitol shared never-before-seen footage of the violent and deadly assault.

TheGrio was in the room as the committee, chaired by U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., played a graphic and cinematic montage video of the more than 2,000 pro-Trump insurrectionists storming the Capitol in an attempt to stop the certification of the 2020 presidential results. Murmurs of shock could be heard throughout the video, which also included testimonies from former Trump administration officials. 

U.S. Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., who was sitting in the gallery of the hearing room along with other members of Congress and spectators, was heard gasping before she exclaimed, “Jesus.”

January 6th Hearing_Rep. Cori Bush
Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., waits to enter the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol hearing on June 9, 2022, to present previously unseen material and hear witness testimony. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

During recess, a visibly shaken Bush spoke to reporters in the room to describe why she was so emotional watching the video presentation. Bush, a freshman member of the U.S. House and member of “The Squad,” said she was unnerved by the fact that many of the violent insurrectionists who stormed the Capitol could easily go unnoticed as everyday citizens. 

“These are people from our community,” said Bush. “How do we know when we show up to a doctor’s office to get treated or have a checkup … or the bus driver who is taking our kids to school … how do we know it’s not someone [who] has these beliefs?”

She added, “They [believe] Donald Trump is almighty, the king, and everything that he says is correct.”

Bush, who was a St. Louis activist before she was elected to Congress, said she was “very upset” after witnessing the Jan. 6 committee’s evidence because it reminded her of the time she first learned of the Oath Keepers, the far-right extremist group whose members are accused of participating in the Capitol insurrection.

Rep. Cori Bush
Rep. Cori Bush talks to the press on June 9, 2022, during recess of the Jan. 6 Committee hearing inside the Cannon Caucus Room on Capitol Hill. (Photo: theGrio/Gerren Keith Gaynor)

Congresswoman Bush said gun-toting Oath Keepers had come to Ferguson, Missouri, claiming that they were there to “protect” the city during unrest in 2014 amid mass demonstrations protesting the police killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown. 

“I remember wondering: Who are these white men in all of this gear, that are not from our community, to have these big guns walking down streets?” Bush recalled.

To date, the Department of Justice has charged 11 members of the Oath Keepers with seditious conspiracy and other crimes for allegedly plotting to use force in an effort to prevent the certification of Joe Biden’s presidential win. 

During Thursday’s hearing, Chairman Thompson presented evidence linking former President Donald Trump to another far-right extremist group, Proud Boys, whom Trump infamously told to “stand back, and standby.”

The committee’s investigative counsel, Marcus Childress, revealed that the Oath Keepers’ leader, Stuart Rhodes, told his members of the Jan. 6 attack: “We’re not going to get through this without a civil war.” Childress also shockingly divulged that Oath Keepers had stored firearms and ammunition and were on “standby” in the event that then-President Trump invoked the Insurrection Act, which allows the commander in chief to deploy the military domestically for civilian law enforcement. 

Men belonging to the Oath Keepers, wearing military tactical gear, attend the “Stop the Steal” rally on January 06, 2021, in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images)

As theGrio previously reported, the results of the election that Trump and his supporters attempted to invalidate were notably driven by the mobilization and turnout of Black and brown voters in key states that handed Joe Biden the presidency — ultimately leading to false claims and investigations of voter fraud in predominantly Black- and Latino-populated counties.

When asked by theGrio what her message was to Black voters upon witnessing the first round of evidence presented by the Jan. 6 committee, Rep. Bush said, “This means that we need to continue to vote.”

“We need to continue to show up … this didn’t just happen because of a president. [Trump] had other folks, state reps and … people in other positions that made them be able to do that.”

In a previous interview with theGrio, Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett of the U.S. Virgin Islands, who is a former Trump impeachment manager, had a similar message for Black Americans. 

“I’m hopeful that that thread will trigger Black Americans to remember their duty to come out and vote,” said Plaskett. “Rather than be frustrated and stay home, we need people to come out and fight. And I’m hoping that that message also comes through.”

Del. Stacey Plaskett (D-VI)
Delegate Stacey Plaskett (D-VI) speaks during a news conference on May 19, 2021, with fellow New Democrat Coalition members outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The damning evidence presented by the Jan. 6 Select Committee captivated audiences and renewed outrage among lawmakers, most of whom were inside the Capitol at the time of the 2021 attack.

“The insurrection on Jan. 6th was a violent, white supremacist attack on our democracy & we must have accountability,” tweeted U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass.

“I’m glad @January6thCmte is holding these hearings & hope they will make that clear.”

Pressley, among other members of Congress, also praised Chairman Thompson for his leadership in shepherding the important committee.

“Thank you @BennieGThompson for shining light & aiding our work to root out white supremacy & protect our democracy,” she added.

The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), of which Thompson is a member, also applauded the chairman, declaring that the Jan. 6 proceedings should be “recorded in history as the Thompson Hearings.”

Chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) speaks during a hearing of the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol in the Cannon House Office Building on June 9, 2022, in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

“These hearings are the most consequential congressional hearings since Watergate, and the nation will have a front-row seat to the revelations that led to the January 6th attack on our democracy, the Constitution, and the American people,” the CBC chairwoman, Rep. Joyce Beatty, D-Ohio, said in a statement.  “Under the leadership of Chairman Bennie Thompson, this Committee is conducting a meticulous, bipartisan investigation focused on uncovering the facts.”

 She added, “It is crucial the Committee tells the American people the full story and makes recommendations that will help ensure nothing like January 6th ever happens again.”

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