At Jan. 6 hearings, more evidence that the threat to democracy runs deep

The House committee hearings aren’t likely to change the mind of anyone who still believes the Big Lie or considers Trump a fit candidate for 2024. What’s important now is that the rest of us pay attention.

SHARE At Jan. 6 hearings, more evidence that the threat to democracy runs deep
A tweet from former President Donald Trump is shown as the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol holds a hearing at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, July 12, 2022.

The infamous “Be there-will be wild!” tweet from former President Donald Trump is shown as the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol holds a hearing Tuesday, July 12.

Jacquelyn Martin/AP

Tuesday’s hearing by the House Select Committee to Investigate the Jan. 6th Attack continued to build a case that Donald Trump must be held fully accountable for his corrupt attempt to remain in power after losing the 2020 presidential election.

Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., vice chair of the House committee, pointedly put it best in her opening remarks before Tuesday’s seventh hearing: “Trump is a 76-year-old man, not an impressionable child.”

Far from it. Trump was told repeatedly that he had lost the 2020 election to Joe Biden, yet he continued to insist otherwise. And he was all too willing to rely on violent extremists and white nationalist militia groups, the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, to stay in power.

The Department of Justice has reportedly put Trump’s actions on Jan. 6 under a microscope as a result of the riveting, dramatic testimony to the House select committee on June 28 by former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson. It’s unclear where that scrutiny will lead.

Editorial

Editorial

But if America is truly a nation in which no one is above the law, there can be no escaping responsibility — not even for a former president — if the DOJ concludes that laws were broken.

Though Tuesday’s hearing lacked the high drama of June 28, the evidence presented certainly bolstered the case that the plans to keep Trump in office, based on the Big Lie about a stolen election, ran frighteningly deep.

The question now is: What will we do to save America from that threat?

Lighting the fuse

“Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there — will be wild!” Trump wrote on Twitter at 2 a.m. on Dec. 19, 2020, lighting the fuse of the insurrection.

As Tuesday’s hearing showed, that tweet sent right-wing media and militia leaders into frenzied action, forming plans and rallying Trump supporters to descend on Washington to prevent a peaceful transfer of power.

In several chilling videos played during the hearing, conservative commentators and militia leaders spewed violent rhetoric in support of the Big Lie. In one video, Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes called for Trump to invoke martial law and threatened bloodshed, including against police, to keep the president in office.

Members of Trump’s inner circle, Michael Flynn and Roger Stone, had clear and close ties to these extremist militias. No one can believe that Trump was ignorant of their dangerous plans.

“He likes the crazies,” former campaign adviser Katrina Pierson, who was concerned about the possibility of violence, said of Trump in a videotaped deposition. “The people that would be very, very vicious in defending him.”

A raucous meeting

In response to Trump’s speech at the Stop the Steal rally on Jan. 6, former campaign manager Brad Parscale sent a text to Pierson, which was shown at Tuesday’s hearing.

This is about Trump pushing for uncertainty in our country, a sitting president asking for civil war,” Parscale texted.

That Jan. 6 speech, of course, came after he’d been told by White House advisers, over and over, that he had lost the 2020 election. Yet over and over, he ignored them, listening instead to unhinged nonsense from his own election fraud lawyers — including that thermostats hooked up to the internet could change votes.

On the evening of Dec. 18, 2020, it all came to a head in a raucous, profanity-laced White House meeting that turned into a showdown between the advisers and the outside lawyers. Among the topics at that meeting was the frightening plan to use the military to seize voting machines, which had been outlined in a Dec. 16, 2020 draft executive order.

The “Be there — will be wild!” tweet came hours after the meeting.

The evidence uncovered by the House committee isn’t likely to change the minds of the alarming number of people who still believe the Big Lie or consider Trump a fit presidential candidate for 2024.

What’s important now is that the rest of us pay attention — and resolve to repair the damage to America caused by the Trump years.

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