Former US President Donald Trump orchestrated last year’s Capitol riot in an “attempted coup”, a congressional inquiry has heard as a prime-time hearing opened into the raid.
Liz Cheney, a Republican, said former President Donald Trump had “lit the flame of this attack”.
Bennie Thompson, a Democrat, said the assault endangered American democracy.
Trump supporters stormed Congress on 6 January 2021 as lawmakers met to certify Joe Biden’s election victory.
After almost a year of investigation, the Democratic-led US House of Representatives select committee opened on Thursday evening by showing clips from interviews it conducted with members of Mr Trump’s inner circle.
Footage was aired of testimony by former US Attorney General Bill Barr saying the former president’s claims that the election was stolen were “bullshit”.
“We can’t live in a world where the incumbent administration stays in power based on its view, unsupported by specific evidence, that there was fraud in the election,” said the former attorney general.
The hearing also featured a recording of testimony by Ivanka Trump, the ex-president’s daughter, saying she had “accepted” Mr Barr’s rejection of her father’s conspiracy theory.
Before the House inquiry opened on Thursday evening – the first of six hearings expected this month – Mr Trump dismissed it as a “political HOAX”.
The former president has been publicly hinting about another White House run in 2024. He continues to peddle unsubstantiated claims that the last election was rigged by mass voter fraud.
Mr Thompson, the committee’s chairman and a Mississippi lawmaker, told the hearing: “Jan 6 was the culmination of an attempted coup, a brazen attempt, as one writer put it shortly after Jan 6, to overthrow the government.
“The violence was no accident. It was Trump’s last stand.”
Ms Cheney, the vice-chair of the committee and a Wyoming congresswoman, said: “Those who invaded our Capitol and battled law enforcement for hours were motivated by what President Trump had told them: that the election was stolen and that he was the rightful president.
“President Trump summoned the mob, assembled the mob and lit the flame of this attack.”
Four people died on the day of the US Capitol riot: an unarmed woman shot by police and the others of natural causes.
More than 100 police officers were injured and one died the next day. Four officers later died by suicide.
Republicans have dismissed the televised inquiry as a ploy to distract Americans from the political headwinds Democrats face with five months to go until the US mid-term elections.
Opinion polls suggest Democrats may lose control of the House and even potentially the Senate when the nation votes in November.
As Americans grapple with galloping inflation, soaring petrol prices and a baby-formula crisis, US President Joe Biden, a Democrat, has seen his popularity with voters dip below Mr Trump’s approval rating at the same point in his tenure.
House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy – who was initially critical of Mr Trump in the aftermath of the Capitol riot, but has since shifted his tone – called the committee a “smokescreen” for Democrats to overhaul voting laws.