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A look at what people outside of Washington think of the January 6th hearings

Viewership and interest can impact future of investigations
Capitol Riot Investigation
Posted at 4:00 AM, Jul 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-21 07:08:37-04

SMITHFIELD, VA  — The eighth and possibly final public January 6th committee hearing has been scheduled to occur on July 21 at 8 p.m. ET, with new testimony and evidence expected to be presented.

A seemingly minute-by-minute account of what President Donald Trump allegedly did, or do not do, while rioters were breaching the U.S. Capitol, is what panel members should be presenting.

It is anticipated that much of Washington will be tuning in, but one looming question is whether these hearings are attracting attention outside the beltway.

A VISIT TO SMITHFIELD, VA

According to a poll from Quinnipiac University, around 58% of the country is following the hearings closely, or somewhat closely. 74% of Democrats are watching, according to the poll and around 51% of Republicans are as well.

To get a sense as to whether any of the testimony is impacting Americans personally, a visit to Smithfield, Virginia felt in order. It's a town located in the Hampton Roads region of Virginia.

The area is part of the newly-formed 2nd congressional district of Virginia and is considered one of the most competitive House districts in the country.

Smithfield is in part of the district in which Representative Elaine Lauria (D-WV) is running for reelection. She is a Democrat on the January 6th committee and will lead the July 21 hearing. In her reelection campaign, she is running against Republican Jen Kiggans.

PEOPLE ARE WATCHING

Some people are watching — like Barbara Bendel. She is moving to Smithfield soon and is a former supporter of former President Donald Trump.

"I've watched most of them," Bendel said.

"I have been really disappointed because it shows how a power-hungry president can do so much damage," Bendel added — saying she will never vote for Trump again.

At a nearby table, Carol Goralcyzk was less surprised by what the committee found out, but she is enthralled nonetheless.

"Things are not what they used to be," Goralcyzk said.

She was particularly struck by Cassidy Hutchinson, the young Trump aide who testified that the former president knew the rioters were armed and that he encouraged them to go to the U.S. Capitol.

"I just felt she was being totally honest. There is no way she could make all of that up," Goralcyzk added.

MANY REPUBLICANS ARE NOT WATCHING

However, the diner did not show unanimous interest in the Thursday prime-time event. Even though the hearing is expected to be a complete account of what former President Trump was doing inside the White House on January 6th — that won't be enough to get Tim Hersom, who voted for Trump, to watch.

"He was a very outspoken man," Hersom said.

"I really don't know how much involvement he had. I wish somebody would stand up for him," Hersom added.

While Hersom does plan on reading excerpts in the days to come, Rebecca Allen plans on ignoring the proceedings as much as she can.

"I don't know anything about them," Allen said.

Allen says she doesn't have time as a mom to devote hours to television. While she hates to look at the images of January 6th, she did say that if Trump runs for president again, she may vote for him.

"If he is the lesser of two evils again, I am going to vote for him again," Allen said.

These answers are a reminder that in many parts of the country, January 6th isn't the top story. Ultimately, the Department of Justice will decide if anyone, including Trump, gets charged with a crime.