My TV will be tuned into the next hearing of the January 6 Committee tomorrow evening at 8 p.m. I hope you will be watching too, especially if you are a Republican who thinks January 6 was a peaceful protest or that “nobody cares” about what happened that day.
Thursday’s hearing will chronicle how Donald Trump spent January 6, 2021, with a focus on the 187 minutes when a deadly assault on the Capitol was underway. We already know that Trump did nothing to stop the assault. We will learn more ugly details–comments he made and how he reacted when a rioter tossed a spear-tipped flagpole at a Capitol police officer.
The images will be ugly. Nauseating to some of us. But, for all, what we will see and hear is a picture of a man clearly unfit to hold the office of the Presidency. The evidence that the Committee has collected already has established a solid foundation for indicting Trump and several of his co-conspirators for sedition. And tomorrow’s hearing will expose Donald Trump as a man with no empathy for the police being attacked by his mob and a man indifferent to calls for the hanging of his Vice President.
We already know that Trump parked himself in front of several TVs and watched the attack. As he watched, he made a few phone calls, some of which were on disposable “burner phones.” We already know that after the mob started to chant “Hang Mike Pence,” Trump commented, “Maybe he deserves it.” We already know that Trump was aware that John Eastman’s legal theory that suggested Pence could singlehandedly reject electoral college votes was false and that Eastman knew it would be rejected if the Supreme Court reviewed it. On Thursday, we will hear more details about just how happy Trump was at the prospect of retaining power through violence, even if that violence cost the lives of his Vice President and members of Congress.
Even more troubling is that Trump refused to call off the attack even after he saw that police were being injured and that one woman had been shot. Perhaps he was thinking, “You have to break some eggs to make an omelet.”
We learned last week that the Secret Service deleted text messages exchanged on January 5 and January 6. Did the then Commander-in-Chief order the Secret Service to delete them? We may find out Thursday or in coming weeks. And what did Trump ask the military to do (or not do)? Did Trump order the Secret Service to whisk Vice President Pence away if he got into his limo so that he could not ratify the electoral votes?
Unfortunately for Trump and those with whom he exchanged text messages; it appears that the messages were not “permanently deleted.” There most likely will be at least one smoking gun in the mix—a text message that either further documents Trump’s sedition or catches Trump or a Trump ally in a lie.
Pessimist that I am (with regards to Trump), I expect the worst. Mind you that I am not gloating. Early in Trump’s presidency, I saw that he was spawning racist hate and encouraging polarization of the two-party system.
Trump never understood his job. And when I say “job,” let it be noted that between hundreds of rounds of golf and many hours of chat with Fox News “personalities,” Trump did little work on the nation’s business. He was and is a lazy man. I suspect he spent more time between November 2020 and January 20, 2021, on planning the insurrection than he did on anything connected with the nation’s interests.
The sordid term of Trump’s presidency is over. Even if the January 6 Committee’s work does not result in indictments brought by the Department of Justice, Trump has been exposed as the toxic narcissist that he is. He was, as John W. Dean III once said, “A cancer on the presidency.”
Trump remains a cancer on American democracy. If the Constitution and democracy are to survive, that cancer must be removed. To get that done, Trump must be indicted, and Trump’s depravity must be exposed so that the hard-core Trumpers, those who respond to criticism of Trump with a condemnation of President Biden (or, in worse cases, start talking about Hunter Biden’s laptop or Hillary’s emails), to finally recognize that they were conned by Trump.
Recent polls indicate that Trump’s following is dissipating. Ron DeSantis, a frightening authoritarian in his own right, is ready to take Trump on and will likely be the 2024 Republican nominee, even if Trump runs. Trump’s hand-picked 2022 Congressional candidates are not doing well. Hershel Walker has not yet learned to read or speak. Dr. Oz, Trump’s idea of a Senator for Pennsylvania, is being attacked by Snooki (who is Snooki, by the way). And Trump’s favorite governor, Kristi Noem, thinks that 10-year-old rape victims should be forced to carry their babies to term.
It is in everyone’s interest—even Republicans—that Trump and Trumpism get flushed out of the American system. Because the January 6 Committee is serving this laxative purpose, I am grateful for its work.
Dare I say that it is everyone’s patriotic duty to watch the January 6 hearing on Thursday? The hearings are no longer about politics. They are about putting Trump’s threat to American democracy to an urgently needed end.
Two concluding thoughts. First, I encourage anyone who still believes Trump had nothing to do with trying to overthrow the government on January 6 to see a psychiatrist. Second, I want to know what Andy Harris’ advice was to Trump at the December 21 White House meeting at which the illegitimate legal theories of John Eastman (suggesting that Mike Pence violate the Constitution) were promoted.
J.E. Dean is a retired attorney and public affairs consultant writing on politics, government, and, when the Constitution is not under attack, other subjects.