Whitelash & Accountability
Several observations from this week's "Season Finale" of the House 1/6 Committee that stand out more than others (at least for us) ....
As we’ve just witnessed the finale for Season One of the House Select Committee on January 6th’s series of hearings on what transpired that day, there are several observations that stand out more than many others …
First: never forget that the January 6th attack on the Capitol was a direct response to the effectiveness of the Black vote in 2020. The Black vote exceeded expectations with its performance in 2020, and it prompted a visceral reaction from white supremacists groups
We continue to appreciate the almost Netflix-style documentary format of these hearings compared to the standard Congressional hearing. This has been carried out much differently than any other Committee convening, and for good reason considering the very short and cranky attention span of the American public. Plus: if you want 2022 and 2024 voters to notice these are taking place, you not only hold them prime time, but you make certain they carry enough theatrical spice to gain the average person’s interest. This did not disappoint throughout its first season and we anticipate similar production in Season Two this Fall.
As a result, this latest hearing was truly the most damning of them all to the reputation of Trump. This particular hearing, perhaps, did more than the previous hearings to show not only the extent of his complicity, but also a more complete picture of his direction of the coup attempt. We get additional, corroborative evidence that he did, indeed, clash with Secret Service in his demands to join insurrectionists on Capitol Hill and we also hear evidence that he never reached out to his Vice President Mike Pence or anyone else in danger on Capitol Hill or any law enforcement and military authorities in a position to stop the attack.
That said, the Committee must move fast: keep in mind that Republicans have made it know that they will immediately terminate the Committee in the event they recapture control of the House of Representatives. How do we prevent that from happening? There must be maximum turnout for Democrats from all eligible voters across the board in November, the likes of which have not been seen in an “off cycle” midterm for some time. Voter turnout was much higher in 2018 than it had been in over a century, but low turnout has, in recent years, favored Republicans. Democrats need higher turnout to maintain control of the House and to continue 1/6 investigation activities.
The Committee may also find itself without its Vice-Chair Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) by the end of the year should she lose the toughest election of her political career in the coming weeks: The Wyoming 2022 Republican primary (which now has her trailing a Trump-backed opponent by more than 20 points). And, it’s likely that it will find itself without any Republicans as Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) has already announced that this is his last term. To maintain the appearance of impartiality - should Democrats retain the House and also decide to keep the Committee - Democrats will need to do as much possible with this Committee in the final months of 2022.
But, what’s really bothering us more?
First: while the 1/6 Committee is very significant and absolutely essential, it’s quite troubling that all U.S. media coverage is stuck on and obsessed with the 1/6 Committee and all things Trump … in the middle of a planetary climate emergency. Most of the country is trapped in record-breaking and deadly heat waves, along with alarming droughts and dangerous water shortages. Basic rain storms are destructive. Energy grids are near collapse. Sea levels are rising fast and we’re told to brace for a very destructive hurricane season. Meanwhile, Europe’s on fire. We’re seeing a total ecosystem collapse that makes all other news small because we don’t exist without the ecosystem.
That said: Thursday evening was revealing and necessary. Yet, aspects of it seemed to take on a disturbingly deliberate attempt to somewhat rehabilitate or reform the public image of Republicans in and outside the Trump administration. There appeared to be some effort made to make certain Trump administration advisors, staffers and other aides seem more heroic on 1/6 for simply sticking around and holding the government together as Nero tried to burn it all down on that day. Aides like former National Security Council senior aide Matthew Pottinger seemed to use Thursday’s time to still rattle off Trump administration achievements and then inserted a complete lie that the 2020 election “was close” (hint: no it wasn’t); Kinzinger was also on edge and delivering a few subtle GOP protestations.
On one hand, it is somewhat understandable and commendable: If many senior advisors had abruptly resigned and left post that day, Trump had a deep bench of fascist psychopaths who would have willingly closed the gaps. Perhaps it could’ve been worse. However: these aides all knew they were working for a racist and fascist sociopath from the day they joined his administration, so these sudden appearances compelled before the Committee are about the least they can do. They deserve no medals nor political rewards such as future runs for office.
Always keep in mind: Republicans were largely silent and dismissive when this Committee started and even during the first hearings. There was a big red wall of silence for the most part, with the Committee compelling others by subpoena. It wasn’t until truly incriminating evidence came to light that suddenly we’re seeing a surge of Trump administration aides and officials and others come forward. But, that’s because they’re being pressed to come forward out of fear of being prosecuted.
Nor is Vice President Pence a hero as certain media attempts strain to paint him as the most level-headed person in the administration network that day since he did not go along with rejecting certification of the election. Still: we do know that Pence refused to invoke the 25th Amendment that day, which he had ample opportunity to do and a majority of Trump’s cabinet to go along with. Yet, inexplicably, he refused to do it despite the standard for removal being met.
That brings us to this next point: lack of enforcement. Provisions in the Constitution such as the 25th Amendment …
And the 14th Amendment, Section 3 …
… are all explicit and clear regarding the criteria for removing a president. We had the perfect opportunity to enforce those provisions given Trump’s dereliction of duty and act of insurrection, yet we didn’t take it. We need to keep asking why are we not enforcing the law in critical moments like these?
Also: it will become increasingly problematic and unjustifiable for Attorney General Merrick Garland to not press forward with any prosecution of Trump given the volume of information provided thus far. Public confidence in these sorts of accountability mechanisms and exercises will decline dramatically if people are not being held accountable.
Lastly: What's still quite jarring when watching video footage of U.S. Capitol Police and other law enforcement response is how they never drew their guns on, fired on or used any tools against armed insurrectionists. Why? We have reports they were ordered not to draw guns or to forcefully protect themselves. Why? We don't talk about this enough. It's also funny how during very intense in-the-moment emergency radio exchanges between Secret Service agents, they're still calling people clearly attacking the Capitol "protesters" when they’re, clearly, armed combatants at that point. In addition, we’re watching a Secret Services deletes texting content from that day. Everyone wants to give Capitol Police and other law enforcement the 1/6 hero treatment. Yet, the response could've been, should've been a lot more forceful & it wasn't. Fortunately, the insurrection did fail - but, it was close. Would it have been much more forceful had the insurrection been carried out by Black “protesters?” Investigation into that should be ongoing.