Jan. 6 Hearings End — Not With A Bang, But A Whimper

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U.S. Capitol Building, Washington D.C. Photo from Unsplash

The Jan. 6 Committee hearings ended not with a bang, but a whimper. “I don’t want to say the election is over,” ex-President Donald Trump whimpered in an outtake of his taping of the  Jan. 7, 2022  clean-up attempt.

Trump only made the tape under extreme duress — the entire political establishment had momentarily abandoned him and there was a live possibility he could have been removed from office by his own cabinet members. So he had to say something to distance himself from the carnage he’d caused. But he just could not say the one most important thing: The election was over. It had been over for almost two months and now his attempts to overthrow it were over as well — at least for a time.

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He’s since revived those attempts — even to this day. But the final hearing — at least until September — delivered a body blow to those ongoing attempts.

All the basic facts that drove Trump’s second impeachment were back, along with a welter of even more damning details, such as White House Counsel Pat Cipollone’s testimony that he “couldn’t think of anybody” on Jan. 6 who “didn’t want people to get out of the Capitol, particularly once the violence started.” Anybody except Trump, that is.

At the time of Trump’s second impeachment, those facts led Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell to say, “There’s no question, none, that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day,” adding that “He didn’t get away with anything yet. We have a criminal justice system in this country. We have civil litigation.”

That condemnation was McConnell’s way of hedging GOP senators’ cowardly refusal to impeach Trump. But now it appears it’s coming to pass, with the Georgia fake electors investigation coming close to a climax, and Merrick Garland’s Department of Justice showing signs of beefed up investigations as well.

While those investigations remain largely hidden pending trials, the broad outlines of Trump’s culpability are publicly clearer than ever before, as MSNBC host Ari Melber, a former prosecutor, made clear on his July 29 show, as he outlined “8 plots to overthrow the election,” of which “most involved unlawful or criminal acts.” While the first efforts — filing lawsuits, and challenging electors — were perfectly legal, the later efforts were not. These included three distinct plots to overturn votes — through the states, through Congress, and through Vice President Mike Pence — as well as plots to use the Department of Justice toward the same end, and use the military to seize voting machines, before finally sending the mob to sabotage the electoral vote count on Jan. 6.

What ties all these plots together is Trump’s premeditated criminal intent, which Jan. 6 Committee Vice Chair Liz Cheney highlighted in her closing remarks. She played a clip from Trump adviser Steve Bannon from Oct. 31, 2020, that surfaced shortly before the committee hearing:

And what Trump’s going to do is declare victory, right? He’s going to declare victory, but that doesn’t mean he’s a winner. He’s just gonna say he’s a winner. The Democrats — more of our people vote early that count. Theirs vote in mail. And so they’re going to have a natural disadvantage and Trump’s going to take advantage — that’s our strategy.

He’s gonna declare himself a winner. So when you wake up Wednesday morning, it’s going to be a firestorm. Also — also if Trump is — if Trump is losing by 10 or 11:00 at night, it’s going to be even crazier. Because he’s gonna sit right there and say they stole it. If Biden’s winning, Trump is going to do some crazy shit.

Cheney then said, “And of course, four days later, President Trump declared victory when his own campaign advisors told him he had absolutely no basis to do so. What the new Steve Bannon audio demonstrates is that Donald Trump’s plan to falsely claim victory in 2020 no matter what the facts actually were was premeditated. Perhaps worse, Donald Trump believed he could convince his voters to buy it whether he had any actual evidence of fraud or not.”

The tragic truth is that Trump was right. A CNN poll conducted after the last hearing found that 66% of Republicans still say that Joe Biden’s win was not legitimate.

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