The party line response to the House Select Committee’s initial primetime January 6th hearing, from America’s right-wing media and Republican House leaders, seems taken from those “Naked Gun” cop movies.
“Move on, nothing to see here,” bumbling Los Angeles police detective Frank Drebin would tell witnesses to a fire or explosion.
“Forgettably minor” is how Tucker Carlson, on Fox News, described the 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
Later in the evening, Laura Ingraham chimed in: “How does a guy putting his feet up on Nancy Pelosi’s desk put democracy at risk?”
The answer was delivered by Republican Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, vice chair of the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol: “Over multiple months, Donald Trump oversaw and coordinated a sophisticated seven-part plan to overturn the presidential election and prevent the transfer of presidential power.”
During the Senate’s 1973 Watergate hearing, Senator Howard Baker, R‑Tennessee, asked the famous question: “What did the President know and when did he know it?” The answer, confirmed by audio from conversations recorded in the Oval Office by a secret taping system, was that Richard Nixon, our 37th President, was in on the burglary coverup and payoffs from Day One.
The House panel, on Thursday night, told twenty million television viewers of the attempted seizure of power by our 45th President after he was voted out of office. “Donald Trump was at the center of this conspiracy,” said committee chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson, D‑Mississippi. Of even greater consequence, Thompson added: “The conspiracy to thwart the will of the people is not over.”
And that is why the events of January 6th, 2021, go far beyond being material for history. The bid by Trump to overthrow will of voters in 2020 is quite possibly due for a repeat should “The Donald” run in 2024. While such Republicans as Baker helped block Nixon, Republicans in Congress appear ready to do Trump’s bidding.
As FNC refused to air Thursday’s hearing, the bull-necked Sean Hannity was describing the House hearing to his viewers as “the dullest, the most boring, there’s absolutely nothing new.” Perhaps Fox hosts didn’t want viewers to hear backstage words of a President they lionized: “Just say the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me and Republican congressmen.”
Huh? Viewers tuned into the hearing saw film of a noose and chants of “Hang Mike Pence.” The Vice President was chairing Congress’ count of electoral votes and had rejected Trump’s demand that he throw out results from swing states.
The committee has unearthed Trump’s reaction as he watched from the White House. Said Cheney: “The President responded with this sentiment: ‘Maybe our supporters have the right idea… Mike Pence deserves it.’ ”
“You will hear evidence that President Trump refused for hours to do what his staff, his family and many of his other advisers begged him to do: immediately instruct his supporters to stand down and evacuate the Capitol.”
The disguise for Trump’s attempted coup has been a series of attacks on the integrity of our elections – believed, the polls tell us, by a majority of Republican voters – that the 2020 election was stolen.
If Fox viewers changed channels, they would have seen a video of then-Attorney General William Barr testifying on his post-election conversation with Trump.
“I told the president it was bull!@#$: I didn’t want to be part of it,” Barr told committee investigators.” A Trump campaign lawyer, Alex Cannon, brought similar findings to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. In Meadows’ memorable response, “So there’s no ‘there’ there.”
The tweets of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and such folk as Senator Ted Cruz (R‑Texas) are ceaselessly filled with praise for the police, and unabating anger at Black Lives Matter protesters’ actions following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis two years ago.
Where is their sympathy for the U.S. Capitol Police?
Liz Cheney put it best: “I say to my colleagues who are defending the indefensible: There will come a day when Donald Trump is gone, but your dishonor will remain.”
A respected officer, Carolyn Edwards, was first on the force to be injured in the insurrection, suffering a concussion. She testified on Thursday, telling of the scene where insurrectionists first broke through:
“What I saw was a war scene. It was something like I had seen in the movies. I could not believe my eyes. There were officers on the ground. They were bleeding. They were throwing u8p. I saw friends with blood all over their faces. I was slipping in peoples’ blood. I was catching people as they fell.” (Edwards managed to put out a call for help on the radio. It did not come.)
A day after the hearing, Tucker Carlson was on the air decrying what he called a “show trial,” adding: “The whole thing is insulting. They are lying and we’re not going to help them.”
Lying about what?
Barr told Trump there was no evidence of election fraud. Chief of Staff Meadows was so informed. Top aide and first daughter Ivanka Trump told committee investigators, “I respected Attorney General Barr, so I accepted what he was saying.” Twenty million people heard excerpts of Trump’s speech at the White House, and mobs of Proud Boys and Oath Keepers marching on the Capitol.
In the wake of the damning videos, Trump has thrown both his daughter and former Attorney General under the bus, sending out this message yesterday: “Ivanka Trump was not involved in looking at, or studying, ELECTION (sic) results. (She) had long ago checked out and was, in my opinion, only trying to be respectful to Bill Barr and his position as Attorney General (he sucked).”
The House Select Committee convenes again on Monday morning. It is expected to fill out Trump’s role in the worst attack on the U.S. Capitol since the War of 1812.
Don’t tune this out! An ugly strain of fascism is loose in the land, and on the airwaves, and on social platforms. It has in its grasp the leadership of one of our two great political parties. Its leader is using the 2022 election to exact revenge, and plotting a run at power once more in 2024.
Trump is not gone.
“Our democracy remains in danger: January 6th and the lies that led to insurrection have put two and a half centuries of constitutional democracy at risk,” said Representative Thompson. “The world is watching what we do here.”
A variation on Benjamin Franklin’s famous words sums up a question that all Americans should ask themselves: “A republic – Can we keep it?”