A joke is making the rounds of late-night comedians in the US as congressional hearings on the January 6 attack on the Capitol in Washington continue. The joke goes something like, “Yeah, the committee is investigating whether Donald Trump really did all of those things that we’ve seen him do in real time.”
We all know what Trump and his supporters did, but the lack of shame, denials in the face of clear evidence, and the refusal to acknowledge or atone for the tremendous damage they are doing have brought us to this point. So it may seem that you don’t need to pay attention to the hearings. Don’t we know all this? Isn’t he going off again?
The answers: “Not really” and “Maybe not.” This is why:
1. This is a persecution. Officially, they’re called hearings, but they’re nothing remotely like a typical US Congressional hearing where politicians endlessly open their mouths and do whatever they can to get a few minutes of TV screen time. Here there is no grandstanding, no yapping backbenchers. The bipartisan group actually puts forward a specific legal case and finds that Trump knew he had lost the election and was fighting to somehow undo the result.
That benefits one specific audience for these hearings: the office of U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland. The commission is well aware that Garland is a judge, not a prosecutor. The nation needs a political reckoning to lead to the legal reckoning that will prevent Trump from regaining power — in other words, a federal indictment.
Is this justified? Yes because…
2. It’s worse than you thought. Here’s Liz Cheney, Wyoming’s right-wing representative and daughter of George W. Bush’s Vice President Dick Cheney: “For several months, Donald Trump oversaw, coordinated and refined seven-part plan to nullify and prevent the presidential election.” that the transfer of presidential power.”
Does that sound like political hyperbole? In fact, the committee presents careful evidence and testimonials, making every step of this plan fairly clear. Trump was told he had lost the election. In light of this, he sidelined his advisers and clung to a group of unscrupulous legal advisers. He spread lies about the result to keep his supporters animated – and raised hundreds of millions of dollars. He and the advisers launched a stream of unfortunate legal challenges. He did his best to get individual state election officials to invalidate the results he did not like. He pressured the vice president, on nonexistent legal grounds, to refuse to certify the results and plunge the nation into a constitutional crisis.