Guardian says House Jan. 6 committee to hold six public hearings in June, but is that enough?

The Guardian is reporting that the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol attack is planning to hold six public hearings in June on how Donald Trump and some allies broke the law in their efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. But Rick Wilson, a former top GOP strategist and the co-founder of The Lincoln Project, sounded alarm bells, saying the committee members are not putting enough effort into making their case to the public.

The British newspaper, citing sources familiar with the inquiry, said it had reviewed a draft schedule prepared by the House committee. The first hearing is scheduled for June 9 and the last hearing on June 23 will be televised in prime time.

The Guardian wrote:

We want to paint a picture as clear as possible as to what occurred,” the chairman of the select committee, Congressman Bennie Thompson, recently told reporters. “The public needs to know what to think. We just have to show clearly what happened on January 6.”

The select committee has already alleged that Trump violated multiple federal laws to overturn the 2020 election, including obstructing Congress and defrauding the United States. But the hearings are where the panel intends to show how they reached those conclusions.

According to the draft schedule, the June public hearings will explore Trump’s efforts to overturn the election, starting and ending with prime-time hearings at 8 pm on the 9th and the 23rd. In between, the panel will hold 10 am hearings on the 13th, 15th, 16th and 21st.

The Guardian said the schedule is still subject to change. The two prime-time hearings are scheduled to last between one-and-a-half and two hours, while the four other morning hearings will last between two and two-and-a-half hours.

Each hearing will be led by a select committee member, the sources told the newspaper, but the questioning of witnesses who have been subpoenaed to appear will be primarily conducted by the committee’s top investigative lawyers. The investigators also intend to use flash texts, photos, and videos to illustrate the testimony, the sources said.

The Guardian report added that the panel will lay out how the efforts to overturn the election results unfolded over a 65-day period from the time Trump falsely claimed victory until Jan. 6:

The select committee is expected, for instance, to run through how the Trump White House appeared to coordinate the illegal plan to send fake electors to Congress, the plot to seize voting machines, and the unlawful plan to delay the certification of Biden’s win.

The panel is also expected to chart the reactivation of the Stop the Steal movement by the Trump activist Ali Alexander and associates, and how he applied for a permit to protest near the Capitol on January 6 but never held the “Wild Protest” and instead went up the Capitol steps.

The select committee additionally intends to address the question of intent, such as why Trump deliberately misled the crowd that he would march with them to the Capitol, and why he resisted entreaties to call off the rioters from obstructing the joint session on January 6.

The sources said the current schedule calls for capping off the six hearings with a close examination of video footage of leaders of the extremist Oath Keepers and Proud Boys groups meeting in a parking lot on Jan. 5 and their activities at the Capitol.

The sources said the select committee wants to draw a connection between “Trump’s political plan for January 6 and the militia groups’ violence at the Capitol in what could form evidence that Trump oversaw an unlawful conspiracy.”

Wilson sharply criticized the committee’s plan to only hold six hearings in a Twitter thread:

“SIX HEARINGS? SIX? Are. You. F*cking. Kidding. Me?" before adding, "Does no one understand the ballgame here?"

2/ Does no one understand the ballgame here? The witnesses from the Trump world will filibuster, bullshit, evade and jerk themselves off on live TV for roughly 40% of the hearings. Everyone will have a long statement at the opening.

— Rick Wilson (@TheRickWilson) May 23, 2022

Wilson went on to say: "You have to create a spectacle. You have to make people care. You have to have drama. You have to drag and grind the people who tried to do this so long and so hard their knees bleed. A coup attempt that goes unpunished is a training exercise."

And he warned that should the GOP take control over Congress next year, they will hold months of hearings on Hunter Biden’s laptop, begin impeachment proceedings against President Joe Biden for failing to secure the border, and hold months of “show trials” on Afghanistan or antifa.

4/ I PROMISE you, if the GOP was in charge of this, the hearings would NEVER, EVER, EVER stop. cc: @kurtbardella @TaraSetmayer Six hearings means the GOP will try to disrupt them (see Gaetz et al previously) and the Democrats will mumble their objections.

— Rick Wilson (@TheRickWilson) May 23, 2022

Just for comparison’s sake, the Senate Watergate Committee headed by Democratic Sen. Sam Ervin of North Carolina began holding public hearings on May 17, 1973. In all, the committee held 51 days of public hearings, a total of 319 hours, before issuing its final report on June 27, 1974.

Here are highlights of that Senate committee’s hearings:

In May 1974, the House Judiciary Committee began holding formal impeachment hearings against President Richard M. Nixon, and in late July approved three articles of impeachment. Nixon resigned in August 1974 before he could be impeached in a House vote.

Of course, now we probably don’t have that amount of time to hold extended public hearings given the looming midterm elections, but the question is whether the House committee is allowing enough time to make its case to the American public.

Assassination, secession, insurrection: The crimes of John Wilkes Booth, Jefferson Davis, and Trump

Donald Trump broke new ground as the first president—the first American, period—to be impeached twice. However, thinking of him solely in those terms fails by a long shot to capture how truly historic his crimes were. Forget the number of impeachments—and certainly don’t be distracted by pathetic, partisan scoundrels voting to acquit—The Man Who Lost The Popular Vote (Twice) is the only president to incite a violent insurrection aimed at overthrowing our democracy—and get away with it.

But reading those words doesn’t fully and accurately describe the vile nature of what Trump wrought on Jan. 6. In this case, to paraphrase the woman who should’ve been the 45th president, it takes a video.

Senate Republicans acquitted Donald Trump of high crimes and misdemeanors twice. So make them pay: Donate $1 right now to each of the Democratic nominee funds targeting vulnerable Senate Republicans in 2022.

Although it’s difficult, I encourage anyone who hasn’t yet done so to watch the compilation of footage the House managers presented on the first day of the impeachment trial. It left me shaking with rage. Those thugs wanted not just to defile a building, but to defile our Constitution. They sought to overturn an election in which many hadn’t even bothered themselves to vote.

What was their purpose? In their own words, as they screamed while storming the Capitol: “Fight for Trump! Fight for Trump!” Those were the exact same words they had chanted shortly beforehand during the speech their leader gave at the Ellipse. He told them to fight for him, and they told him they would. And then they did.

“These defendants themselves told you exactly why they were here” pic.twitter.com/6HVsD8Kl0M

— The Tennessee Holler (@TheTNHoller) February 10, 2021

Many of those fighting for Trump were motivated by a white Christian nationalist ideology of hate—hatred of liberals, Jews, African Americans, and other people of color. Most of that Trumpist mob stands diametrically opposed to the ideals that really do make America great—particularly the simple notion laid down in the Declaration of Independence that, after nearly 250 years, we’ve still yet to fully realize: All of us are created equal. The Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol was but another battle in our country’s long-running race war.

As Rev. William Barber explained just a few days ago: “White supremacy, though it may be targeted at Black people, is ultimately against democracy itself.” He added: “This kind of mob violence, in reaction to Black, brown and white people coming together and voting to move the nation forward in progressive ways, has always been the backlash.”

Barber is right on all counts. White supremacy’s centuries-long opposition to true democracy in America is also the through-line that connects what Trump has done since Election Day and on Jan. 6 to his true historical forebears in our history. Not the other impeached presidents, whose crimes—some more serious than others—differed from those of Trump not merely by a matter of degree, but in their very nature. Even Richard Nixon, as dangerous to the rule of law as his actions were, didn’t encourage a violent coup. That’s how execrable Trump is; Tricky Dick comes out ahead by comparison.

Instead, Trump’s true forebears are the violent white supremacists who rejected our democracy to preserve their perverted racial hierarchy: the Southern Confederates. It’s no coincidence that on Jan. 6 we saw a good number of Confederate flags unfurled at the Capitol on behalf of the Insurrectionist-in-Chief. As many, including Penn State history professor emeritus William Blair, have noted: “The Confederate flag made it deeper into Washington on Jan. 6, 2021, than it did during the Civil War.“

As for that blood-soaked, intra-American conflict—after Abraham Lincoln was elected president in 1860, 11 Southern states refused to accept the results because they feared it would lead to the end of slavery. They seceded from the Union and backed that action with violence. Led by their president, Jefferson Davis, they aimed to achieve through the shedding of blood what they could not at the ballot box: to protect their vision of a white-dominated society in which African Americans were nothing more than property.

Some, of course, will insist the Civil War began for other reasons, like “states’ rights,” choosing to skip right past the words uttered, just after President Lincoln’s inauguration, by Alexander Stephens, who would soon be elected vice president of the Confederacy. Stephens described the government created by secessionists thusly: “Its foundations are laid, its corner-stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery—subordination to the superior race—is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.”

In the speech he gave at his 1861 inauguration, Lincoln accurately diagnosed secession as standing in direct opposition to democracy.

Plainly the central idea of secession is the essence of anarchy. A majority held in restraint by constitutional checks and limitations, and always changing easily with deliberate changes of popular opinions and sentiments, is the only true sovereign of a free people. Whoever rejects it does of necessity fly to anarchy or to despotism. Unanimity is impossible. The rule of a minority, as a permanent arrangement, is wholly inadmissible; so that, rejecting the majority principle, anarchy or despotism in some form is all that is left.

Davis, Stephens, and the rest of the Confederates spent four long years in rebellion against democracy and racial equality. In 1865, Lincoln was sworn in for a second term. On the ballot the previous year had been his vision, laid out at Gettysburg, of a war fought so that our country might become what it had long claimed to be, namely a nation built on the promise of liberty and equality for every American. Lincoln’s vision won the election. He planned to lead the Union to final victory and, hopefully, bring that vision to life. Instead, John Wilkes Booth shot the 16th president to death.

Why did Booth commit that violent act, one that sought to remove a democratically elected president? Look at his own written words: “This country was formed for the white, not for the black man. And looking upon African Slavery from the same stand-point held by the noble framers of our constitution. I for one, have ever considered (it) one of the greatest blessings (both for themselves and us,) that God has ever bestowed upon a favored nation.”

As author and Washington College historian Adam Goodheart explains, Booth was “motivated by politics and he was especially motivated by racism, by Lincoln’s actions to emancipate the slaves and, more immediately, by some of Lincoln’s statements that he took as meaning African Americans would get full citizenship.” When Booth opened fire, his gun was aimed at not just one man, but at the notion of a multiracial, egalitarian democracy itself.

Trump may not have pulled a trigger, bashed a window, or attacked any police officers while wearing a flag cape, but he shares the same ideology, motive, and mindset as his anti-democratic, white supremacist forebears. They didn’t like the result of an election, and were ready and willing to use violence to undo it. Secession, assassination, insurrection. These are three sides of a single triangle.

I hope, for the sake of our country and the world, we never have another president like Donald Trump. I hope we as a people—or at least enough of us—have learned that we cannot elect an unprincipled demagogue as our leader.

A person without principle will never respect, let alone cherish, the Constitution or the democratic process. A person without principle can only see those things as a means to gain or maintain a hold on power. A person without principle believes the end always justifies the means.

That’s who Trump is: a person without principle. That’s why he lied for two months after Election Day, why he called for his MAGA minions to come to Washington on the day Joe Biden’s victory was to be formally certified in Congress, and why he incited an insurrection on that day to prevent that certification from taking place. His forces sought nothing less than the destruction of American democracy.

For those crimes, Trump was impeached, yes. But those crimes are far worse than those committed by any other president. Regardless of the verdict, those crimes will appear in the first sentence of his obituary. They are what he will be remembered for, despite the cowardice of his GOP enablers. Forever.

Ian Reifowitz is the author of  The Tribalization of Politics: How Rush Limbaugh's Race-Baiting Rhetoric on the Obama Presidency Paved the Way for Trump (Foreword by Markos Moulitsas)

Nixon backers’ obits suggest history won’t be kind to those who don’t support Trump impeachment

Ryan Goodman, editor in chief over at Just Security, published a very interesting piece on Wednesday. In it, Goodman goes back through history and looks at the 10 Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee who voted both for and against the impeachment of then-President Richard Nixon in 1974. More importantly, he looks at their obituaries to see whether his backers’ decisions to support a clearly unhinged and corrupt politician were remembered. According to Goodman, not only was it mentioned in these long-deceased officials’ obituaries, but it was the defining moment of their careers. Reading some of obituary headlines, you begin to get the scope.

“Former Rep. Joseph Maraziti, 78, Defender of Nixon on Watergate”

“Wiley Mayne; House GOP Member Who Voted Not to Impeach Nixon”

“Sandman, Nixon Supporter, Dies”

“Charles Wiggins, 72, Dies; Led Nixon’s Defense in Hearings”

Alternately, Goodman looked at the obituaries of Republican congressmen who voted in favor of impeaching Nixon. Those GOP officials’ careers were also definitively marked by their decision to break with party rank-and-file to make the right decision. 

Just Security is a U.S. national security law and policy think tank and media outlet.