While the House committee investigating the January 6, 2021 Capitol attack has built its public case that Donald Trump was the focus of a coup attempt, the panel has relied heavily on a seemingly unlikely stream of witnesses: Trump’s own advisers. , his fellow Republicans and even his own family.
Those closest to Trump have been impeached, portrayed or shown, dismissing the former president’s false claims that the 2020 election was stolen. And yet the struggle to thwart the will of the people continued unabated.
The powerful testimony of a parade of Republicans, in four tightly produced hearings, has revealed in searing and consistent detail how divided the party has become between the faction accepting the reality of the 2020 election and the many others still clinging to it. Trump’s anti-democratic lies about a stolen election.
“If Republicans were looking at it, it’s really impossible to defend a position that President Trump won the election based on the evidence presented so far,” Mick Mulvaney, a former acting White House chief of staff, told IPS. Trump.
There have been short video clips of the former president’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, and ruthless testimony from top White House attorney Eric Herschmann, who said he berated another pro-Trump attorney for being “insane” because he continued to pursue conspiracies to stop Joe. Biden’s inauguration even the day after the Capitol riots.
“We have a lot of theories,” Rudy Giuliani, one of Trump’s chief attorneys, told a group of state lawmakers as he tried to prevent the results, according to testimony Tuesday by Rusty Bowers, the Republican speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives. “We just don’t have the evidence.”
The president’s former attorney general, William Barr, had one word for the swirling factless theories of fraud espoused by Trump in the aftermath of the election: “bullshit.”
“I told him it was, it was crazy stuff,” Barr said in his video filing of voting machine fraud claims, “and they wasted their time on that, and it was doing the country a serious, serious disservice.”
But Mulvaney said the partisan nature of the Democrat-led procedure — the Republican leadership boycotted the panel after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rejected some of his appointees — meant fewer Republicans were likely to vote.
Democrats have full control over the Commission of Inquiry, although there are two anti-Trump Republicans, including Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the Vice President.
“The fact that there are Republican witnesses is very compelling,” Mulvaney said. “I don’t think Bill Barr is lying. I also know that I don’t see his entire testimony. I’m going to see the pieces of his testimony that the Democrats want me to see.”
On Tuesday, Bowers and two Republican officials from Georgia testified under oath, describing in harrowing terms the pressure campaign they endured to stand up to the president and the toll it took on them personally. More testimonies will come from the top of the Trump Justice Department on Thursday.
“The committee has been brilliant at that tactic of using senior officials, family members, those high in the campaign and the Republicans who supported it,” said former White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham, who is nearing his death. served under Trump throughout his tenure, but has since emerged as a critic. “That gives me hope that it will break through.”
A new Quinnipiac University poll on Wednesday suggested that such a big Republican breakthrough may be a long way off.
While nearly 6 in 10 Americans overall think Trump bears much or some responsibility for the events of January 6, the poll found, the opposite was true only among Republicans: 25% said he has “not much” responsibility. wears and 44% said he wears nothing at all.
“My hope is there’s room for a healthy wing of the Republican Party to take off again — the odds of that being extremely low,” said Sarah Longwell, a founder of the anti-Trump Republican Accountability Project.
Still, in two 2020 Trump voter focus groups that Longwell has held since the hearings began, she said she noticed an unusual shift: None of those in attendance wanted Trump to participate in 2024.
“What was interesting to me: They loved Trump, but they want to move on,” Longwell said. “That’s exactly how they talked about January 6 in general.”
Cheney, Trump’s most prominent Republican critic in Congress, was direct about her goal of driving a wedge between Trump and the party’s grassroots, if not between him and the party’s elected leaders in Washington.
“I say this to my Republican colleagues who defend the indefensible: One day Donald Trump will be gone, but your dishonor will remain,” Cheney said at the first hearing on June 9.
Cheney, who will face a Trump-backed primary challenger this summer, has positioned himself as a potential presidential candidate against Trump, should he run for office. Next week, she is due to give a speech about the party’s future at the Reagan Library in California, the same venue that has seen a number of ambitious, potential Republican 2024 contenders appear in recent months.
Several Republican strategists predicted that the Jan. 6 committee hearings would have less effect on the 2022 midterm elections — when Trump himself is not on the ballot — than on the 2024 Republican presidential field.
On Capitol Hill, few were as blunt about Trump’s threat as J. Michael Luttig, a former federal appeals court judge who is hardly a household name but has great stature in the conservative legal world.
“Donald Trump and his allies and supporters pose a clear and current threat to American democracy,” Luttig said in testimony last week.
Luttig then made the same forward-looking jump to the next presidential election that many Democrats hope voters will make in this fall’s midterm elections: If elected, Trump allies would “try to undo that 2024 election the same way they do.” were trying to undo the 2020 elections,” he warned.
At times, the committee’s indictment has been so focused on Trump, and so full of praise for the few Republicans who have stood up to him, that some Democrats personally fear the strategy could backfire — distinguishing Trump from a Republican party that is, in fact, remains very loyal to him.
“It’s absolutely infuriating,” said Jessica Post, executive director of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, which is involved in state house racing. “There is a much broader story than told by the Jan. 6 commission about the anti-democratic forces in the states.”
She was especially frustrated with Bowers’ lionization just for enforcing the law, noting that Arizona had passed tougher voting laws under his auspices. “I just don’t think you get a gold star for doing the least,” Post said.
Sitting next to Bowers on Tuesday was Republican Secretary of State for Georgia Brad Raffensperger, who earned praise from the committee as a “public servant.” That same day, Georgian Democrats nominated a state representative, Bee Nguyen, to run against him, and on Wednesday Nguyen attacked Raffensperger’s support for more voting restrictions.
The gap in the GOP can easily be overstated: Some of those whose words have been used like a baton against Trump still say they’d vote for him in 2024 if he were the nominee, including Barr and Bowers, who told The Associated Press. told this week: “If he were against Biden, I would vote for him again.”
Another Republican whose bravery has been commended by the committee is former Vice President Mike Pence for resisting intense pressure from Trump to reverse the election.
Greg Jacob, Pence’s counsel, testified that one of Trump’s advisers, John Eastman, had asked Pence not to certify electoral college results, even in the immediate aftermath of the Capitol riot.
“That’s stuff for a rubber room,” Pence told him, as Jacob remembered. In other words, Jacob said, “demonstrably mad.”
The committee’s hearing on Thursday will deal with Trump’s “attempt to corrupt the nation’s highest law enforcement agency, the Justice Department, into his bid to reverse the election,” as Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., the committee chair, previewed it.
Three senior Trump administration alumni are lined up as the star witnesses: Jeffrey A. Rosen, the former acting attorney general; Richard Donoghue, the former Acting Deputy Attorney General; and Steven Engel, the former Assistant Attorney General of the Office of Legal Counsel.
The lawmaker leading the interrogation will be another Republican: Representative Adam Kinzinger of Illinois.
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