Opinion The Jan. 6 committee has done its job — maybe too well


HR King
May 29, 2001
Donald Trump’s supporters had come to kill.
The White House knew it. President Trump knew it. And yet he knowingly sent armed fanatics to the Capitol with murder on their minds, then he sat back and watched for hours the violence they unleashed.

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In its ninth and possibly final public session on Thursday, the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol added vivid detail to the narrative it had thoroughly documented in its previous hearings.

On a huge screen above the dais, the lawmakers flashed the grave warnings the Secret Service had received 11 days before the attack: “Their plan is to literally kill people. Please, please take this tip seriously and investigate further.”

The lawmakers displayed the text message from Trump aide Jason Miller to Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows boasting, “I got the base fired up” — and the online comments of Trump supporters that Miller was boasting about:

“Our ‘lawmakers’ in Congress can leave one of two ways: 1. In a bodybag. 2. After rightfully certifying Trump the winner.”

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“Keep your guns hidden.”
“Don’t f--- around, full kits, 180 rounds minimum.”
And the committee members displayed Secret Service messages about the weaponry carried by Trump supporters that morning — a Glock handgun, pistol, assault rifle, ballistic helmets, body armor, riot shields, high-capacity ammunition feeding devices, unregistered ammo — and an ominous alert “regarding the VP being a dead man walking if he doesn’t do the right thing” by overturning the election results.

In the Cannon Caucus Room, the storied chamber that some 75 years ago housed hearings of the House Un-American Activities Committee, reporters held up their phones to take photos of the threatening messages. “Wow,” one near me said under his breath as “dead man walking” flashed on the screen.

“The president was aware of this information,” Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.) told the audience. “But despite the awareness of the potential for violence and weapons among the crowd … Donald Trump instructed the angry crowd, some of whom were armed, to march to the Capitol.”
It was shocking and appalling — yet at same time, not terribly surprising. The Jan. 6 committee has done its job, maybe too well. It established beyond any doubt that Trump conceived his plan for the “big lie” well before he lost, and that when his legal challenges failed and he admitted privately that he had lost, he still fomented violence. The evidence amassed by the panel has Trump dead to rights — so much so that its findings seem to have lost the ability to surprise.

The media gave the session the importance it deserves, with 18 TV stands circling the Cannon rotunda. Yet, in the room, I sensed a jaded reception: a few yawns, idle scrolling on phones, a man’s eyes closing in the foreign-press section. After all, there were no live witnesses, the Republicans boycotted the whole thing, and the committee was, essentially, retelling a story it had already effectively told.

Yet we can’t allow ourselves to become numb to the monstrous things Trump did, is still doing, and would do again with more sophistication if he returns to power. Consider just a few revelations tucked in Thursday’s retelling of the grisly tale of Jan. 6:
  • Trump adviser Steve Bannon, before the election, declared that Trump is “going to declare victory, and that doesn’t mean he’s the winner. … So when you wake up Wednesday morning, it’s going to be a firestorm.”
  • Trump friend and longtime adviser Roger Stone, before the election, said that regardless of the outcome, “the key thing to do is to claim victory. Possession is nine-tenths of the law. No, we won. F--- you. … We’ll have to start smashing pumpkins, if you know what I mean.”
  • Trump, knowing privately that he had lost, signed an order on Nov. 11 requiring the immediate withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and Somalia.
  • Trump, acknowledging defeat, told Meadows (according to video testimony from former Meadows aide Cassidy Hutchinson): “I don’t want people to know we lost, Mark. This is embarrassing. Figure it out.”
  • Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, in video testimony, testified about Trump introducing her to lawyer John Eastman, who tried to enlist the RNC’s help with his fake-elector scheme.
  • Nancy Pelosi, in newly released video, pleaded for help from the Pentagon, the Virginia governor and the attorney general. She reacted in horror to the violence and talked with Vice President Mike Pence about “defecation” and defilement of the House floor.
In a largely symbolic gesture, the panel closed with a unanimous vote to subpoena documents and testimony from Trump himself. He’ll surely refuse — as did Stone, Eastman and some 30 others who took the Fifth.
“We have sufficient information to consider criminal referrals from multiple individuals,” Vice Chair Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) said — though, as she noted, “the vast weight of evidence presented so far has shown us that the central cause of January 6th was one man: Donald Trump.”
After the overwhelming case the committee has made, a criminal referral that doesn’t name Trump would be criminal.