House Committee The investigation into the Jan. 6 attack never fully promised a quiet summer, but it appeared to be one when the hearing began a month ago. quieter summer. Many of what were thought to be the biggest revelations appeared to have leaked before the hearings began, and the six to eight scheduled public sessions, each of only about two hours each, seemed to convey modest ambitions—especially with 1973. The Watergate hearings lasted 237 hours, even the Republican-led Benghazi hearings in 2015, in which Hillary Clinton testified publicly for 11 hours alone.
But then the hearings actually began – an emotional and tense multimedia roller coaster, crafted by former ABC News exec James Goldston to emulate the essence of a venerable TV series, with each episode revealing Deeper twists and mounting corruption and anger. Rep. Liz Cheney and surprising witness Cassidy Hutchinson, aide to former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, instead turned out to be the summer’s biggest breakout TV star.
Testimony against former President Trump has so far proved more convincing, damning and reputation-damaging than almost anyone imagined. The committee obviously owns the goods and knows how to pack them for maximum effect. Now, the committee is gearing up to return from a short summer break with two more hearings this week, one on Tuesday and then a second prime-time evening hearing on Thursday.
For 18 months, the Trump administration’s chaos leading up to Jan. 6 has been featured in news reports, documentaries and government documents, making public sense of its misconduct and damage to American democracy. But these events seem similar to what this country (and the world) has experienced during his four years as president — a chaotic and noisy series of flippant and casual statements, ill-considered tweets, hasty policy choices and recklessness roar.
Now the country can see the opposite: Trump’s madness has a way. The events of the ten weeks from early November to January 6 were more organized and sinister than previously known.
Most importantly, evidence of crime and criminal behavior has been shown to be unavoidable.
In fact, there appears to be a lot of crime going on in the days and weeks leading up to the Jan. 6 riots at the Capitol — and Trump aides seem to understand that they are heading for criminal reckoning.As Hutchinson recounted what White House counsel Pat Cipollon told her, “If we [let the President go to the Capitol on 1/6.”
Altogether, the committee has painted a far more organized and coherent picture of the administration’s efforts than anyone imagined existed. The hearings have revealed a seven-part coordinated effort by the Trump White House—and the president personally—to weaponize every public, political, and governmental tool at his disposal to hold onto power in the face of a clear and convincing electoral loss. He and a small cadre of loyal aides tried to undermine the legitimacy of Joe Biden’s victory, encouraged states to overturn valid election results, tried to install election-doubting loyalists at the Justice Department, encouraged applied consistent pressure to Vice President Mike Pence to step outside his constitutional role and reject the electoral college certification, and then—when literally all else failed—he encouraged his supporters to the Capitol and then stood by, without action, while they rampaged through the building and came close to harming Pence and lawmakers.
Trump knew what he was doing, was told by aides repeatedly and broadly that it was wrong, and continued his pressure campaign anyway. January 6 wasn’t a spontaneous riot; it was the final attempt at a coup that had failed in every step until then. And the fact that so many of the participants, from members of Congress to, according to Hutchinson, White House chief Mark Meadows himself, apparently sought presidential pardons for their actions in the Trump administration’s final days make clear there was what prosecutors call “mens rea,” a guilty mind. In the 18 months since the events at the Capitol, the Justice Department has brought charges against more than 800 people involved in the riots at the Capitol, including eye-opening charges of “seditious conspiracy” against some of the white nationalist militia members, like the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys, who should figure prominently at this week’s congressional hearings. Precisely none of those yet charged have been within Trump’s inner circle.