TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The long-awaited findings of the Jan. 6 Committee investigation include new video clips and new evidence from the siege of the U.S. Capitol, with a strong connection to Florida.
Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL7), serving the Winter Haven area, is the only Floridian on the committee. She was in a Capitol basement office as the violence exploded onto the House floor.
“Our goal and our challenge is to use the public hearings to distill this information down to its essence,” Murphy said. “To tell an accurate and easy-to-understand story about why Jan. 6 happened.”
Florida still leads the nation in arrests and the Tampa Bay Area leads the rest of the state.
According to the George Washington University Program on Extremism, 87 of the 821 defendants, more than 10 percent, are from Florida. 36 of them, more than a 40 percent, are from the Bay Area.
Pinellas County has the highest number of local defendants with 10, tying for third in the nation in cases by county. The other counties at the top of that infamous list are densely populated Los Angeles and Orange Counties in California and Illinois’ Cook County, where Chicago is located.
Polk County’s Jonathan Pollock is among the local suspects still on the run. Investigators allege body camera video shows Pollock assault three officers. The FBI has offered a $15,000 reward for Pollock’s arrest.
Retired Green Beret Jeremy Brown, a defendant who was featured on a Special Forces poster when he was younger, released a recorded statement about the hearing from prison where he is awaiting trial.
“They are attempting to divide the power of the Americans by turning us against each other,” Brown said. “They need us to blame each other so that we don’t blame and hold them accountable.”
Brown has told 8 on Your Side he will never agree to a plea agreement and he said he hopes his case will reveal details he claims the government wants to hide.
Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL14), serving Tampa, discussed the hearings from her Washington, D.C. office.
“I was here when it happened,” Castor said, adding it makes her “angry” when she reflects on that day. Castor said the evidence released by the committee will give the nation answers about how the attack was organized and who was behind it.
“It is entirely unsettling the Proud Boys, the Oath Keepers and these far-right extremist groups had such a stronghold in the state of Florida,” Castor said. “We know some of the funding unfortunately came from the state of Florida. So now we need accountability.”
Rep. Elise Stefanik, a Republican from New York, is among GOP members who have criticized the hearing process as partisan.
“This committee is not about seeking the truth,” Stefanik said. “It is a smear campaign against President Donald Trump, against Republican members of Congress and against the voters across the country.”
Program on Extremism researcher Jon Lewis said he expects key details to be released at the hearings.
“Who talked to who. Who corresponded with who. Who the key players were,” Lewis said. “Pick up every stone and really make a clear point of examining how we got to January 6.”
The committee is made up of seven Democrats and two Republicans. The first hearing is scheduled for 8 p.m., Thursday. The next one is scheduled for Monday.