Trump didn’t act, and he didn’t want it. Plus 4 other lessons from the Jan. 6 hearings
After hours of staffers pushing him to release a video in which he told rioters to return home, Donald Trump had one last thing to say.
Trump said to a staffer that Mike Pence had let him down.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), revealed the information during prime time Thursday in the final series of Jan.6 committee hearings.
Jan. 6, 2021, was the most severe attack on the U.S. Capitol’s security since 1814 when it was burned by British soldiers. People died. Representatives of Congress fled for their lives. Pence was buried in the Gallows Secret Service agents scrambled to say their last goodbyes.
That was it. Mike Pence let me down.
This attack didn’t come outside. It came inside, from a mob that supported the former president who pulled the wool over their eyes, convincing them with lies that all was stolen.
Through these eight hearings, the committee has made a case that Trump lies about the election, and promises he will run again in 2024 to keep the office.
These are the five main takeaways that we have gleaned from the hearings so far.
1. Trump refused to tell rioters that they should go home for hours, despite being urged — and that led to serious consequences.
Already, the committee had made clear that Trump knew there were people in the crowd with weapons. However, he wanted them to be able to bypass metal detectors so they could be admitted to his speech at Ellipse. He was somehow certain they weren’t trying to harm him.
HOUSE JAN. 6. COMMITTEE HEARS
He was also aware of the possibility that his supporters might become violent, and was even aware in real-time that they were. He was there to watch as the drama unfolded. Staffer after staffer tried to get him to speak out or send a tweet requesting that the crowd go home. He refused until several hours later.
He actually empathized with the rebels when he did finally realize that it was going to fail.
This was the final straw for Sarah Matthews (a former deputy press secretary) who testified on Thursday.
Matthews stated that Matthews didn’t differentiate between peacefully attending his speech and those who witnessed violence. He added, “As an ambassador, I knew that I would be asked for to defend that.” Matthews’ refusal to call off the mob on that day and his refusal to condemn violence was unjustifiable.
That night, she resigned.
Even the next day in outtakes from his videotaped speech, Trump edited on the fly and insists: “I don’t want to say that the election’s over.”
Trump knew exactly what was happening and could have taken immediate action. However, he chose to wait hours before deciding. From the time he finished his speech, it was three hours seven minutes until he released the video telling the rioters that they should go home.
That had serious consequences, Matthew Pottinger, a former deputy National Security Advisor in the Trump White House, said.
Jan. 6, he stated, “emboldened the enemies by helping them give ammunition to feed a narrative about how our system of government doesn’t work, and that the United States has fallen.”
2. More than a legal argument, a political argument is more powerful than one that.
The committee strongly argued that Trump incited Jan. 6. Several others who were facing criminal charges on that day also pointed the finger at Trump.
It’s less clear whether there is any hard-proven evidence that Trump was involved in the coordination. It is somewhat surprising to see how few first-hand conversations we have with Trump in these hearings with so many witnesses close to him.
The Department of Justice will determine Trump’s criminal culpability if any.
HOUSE JAN. 6. COMMITTEE HEARS
14 highlights from the Jan. 6 hearings of the committee — so far
After several hearings, it becomes clearer that the committee’s goal has become less legal and more politically-motivated.
Trump refuses to acknowledge that he lost 2020 elections. Instead, he’s using his grievance-filled electoral lies to fuel a possible 2024 run. This seems to be what the committee is trying to stop – Trump being reelected to office.
“Every American must think this,” Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) said. “Can a president willing to make the same choices Donald Trump made during Jan. 6 violence ever be trusted with any position in our great country again?”
Are they convincing? Maybe to some degree. The most recent NPR/ PBS NewsHour/Marist poll was released on Thursday. It found that hardcore partisans were pretty much locked in – while Republicans are mostly not paying any attention.
It did show that 57% of the independents blame Trump for Jan. 6, (57%) and 52% describe Jan. 6th as an insurrection or threat to democracy (52%). Both have increased 9 points from December last year. This is notable considering that independents account for a large portion of the country’s declining share of swing voters.
3. These witnesses are difficult to ignore.
We’ve said this before, but it’s still true. Trump loyalists find it harder and harder to dismiss these witnesses, who are Republicans in Name Only, or RINOs with a vendetta.
These were people who voted for Trump and worked for his campaigns. There have been many.
Cheney tried to frame the testimony as “a series of confessions” by people who were close to the former president.
HOUSE JAN. 6. COMMITTEE HEARS
The majority believes Trump is to blame but will not face charges in poll
Cheney pointed out that “the case against Donald Trump at these hearings was not made by witnesses who are his political enemies.” It is instead a series confessions by Donald Trump himself, his friends, and his campaign officials — his family.”
Trump is known for turning up the pressure. Cheney warned about potential witness intimidation. But it has been clear that Trump’s pressure campaigns have affected everyone, including his vice president, Secret Service agents, state officials, and local election workers.
As the committee has demonstrated, he isn’t content to manipulate his supporters for their time and money.
4. This has sometimes felt personal for some members of the committee.
However, others on the committee seem eager to grind their blades. These blades are sharpest for members within their party and Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) has frequently had his hands on the handle.
Kinzinger stated that Kinzinger was glad to be leaving in a year because he is being surrounded with a lot of children. “I hope that my party will finally be able to remember where our foundations were… .”
Kinzinger is retiring at the conclusion of his congressional term. He has been targeted by the former president and members of his family. He has sometimes channeled his anger into these hearings.
He said that no matter what your political views, he believed that “Whatever your opinion is about the election outcome, we Americans must all agree that Donald Trump’s conduct Jan. 6 was a grave violation of the oath and a gross dereliction of duty to the nation. It is a blemish on our history and a disgrace to all who have died for our democracy. We will present our findings and recommend that laws and policies be changed to prevent another January. 6.”
In previous sessions, this committee revealed that many Republican colleagues had sought pardons.
Then, in Thursday’s session Elaine Luria (D-Va.) highlighted a video showing Missouri Republican Senator Josh Hawley running through evacuation halls after previously raising his fist in solidarity.