Friday Reads: AccountabilityPosted: June 10, 2022
Good Day Sky Dancers!
Well, the first public hearing of the January 6 Committee’s investigation of the Trump-led insurrection was broadcasted on all the major TV stations and news stations. It was a searing combination of testimony–both in person and by video–as well as a massive TV providing highlights of violence previously unseen. It was a tribute to the men and women of the Capitol Police as well as the beginning of a suggested indictment of Trump and his enablers.
The so-called Fox “News” station broadcast Tucker Carlson with his spurious version of a false-flag event made to make Republicans look like racists. Phillip Bump analyzed this pathetic attempt to rally the racists, misogynists, fascists, christofascists, and Homophobic riff-raff to rage. I’m not sure he succeeded if you read this account. I was obviously watching the public hearings. From The Washington Post: “Fox News didn’t just ignore the Jan. 6 hearing. It did something worse.”
When 8 p.m. Eastern rolled around, though, it became clear that the network wasn’t simply going to not cover the hearing. Instead, it began more than two hours of commercial-free rebuttal. It didn’t simply cover other things, it focused almost entirely on the hearing as though it was former president Donald Trump’s defense team — without, of course, showing its audience the prosecution’s case.
Part of that was probably timing. The hearing began just as Tucker Carlson’s show kicked off, and few people in America have been more energetically engaged than Carlson in casting the Jan. 6 riot as not worthy of discussion. Or as largely innocuous, save for some vandalism. Or maybe it’s a government false flag aimed at casting Republicans as racists or something. Rhetorical consistency is not Carlson’s strength, but that is happily for him not a limitation for his job.
So Carlson began by crowing about Fox’s decision to stand apart from its competitors.
“The whole thing is insulting. In fact, it’s deranged,” Carlson said. “And we’re not playing along. This is the only hour on an American news channel that will not be carrying their propaganda live. They are lying, and we’re not going to help them do it.”
Yes, God forbid that Fox News should air an hour of propaganda or dishonesty. Carlson didn’t articulate the purported lies, which he couldn’t have, because the hearing hadn’t actually begun by that point. But it didn’t matter, because his audience wasn’t hearing the evidence from the hearing anyway. Was it a lie when the hearing showed William P. Barr, Trump’s ever-loyal attorney general, describing Trump’s voter-fraud claims as nonsense? Doesn’t matter, just wave it all away as untrustworthy without actually explaining what was said and why it couldn’t be trusted.
How did Carlson’s show go? He transitioned quickly into his frustration that the committee wasn’t addressing the real questions, in his estimation.
“What did happen, exactly, on Jan. 6? What’s the truth of that day?” Carlson said. “Well, that’s still unknown. From the extensive video we have of Jan. 6, it’s clear that some in the crowd, more than a few, were encouraging protesters to breach the Capitol. To commit felonies.”
The rest of us saw the committee begin to build its case that Trump planned and was in charge of all of it. We saw Jarred say he was too busy processing Presidential Pardons to really know what was going on which is pretty appalling on all kinds of fronts.
From The Washington Times article tweeted above as reported by Joseph Clark: “Liz Cheney: Rep. Scott Perry, ‘multiple’ GOP lawmakers sought pardons from Trump.”
Rep. Scott Perry was among “multiple” Republican lawmakers who sought presidential pardons in the weeks following the attack on the Capitol, the House Jan. 6 committee revealed Thursday.
“Representative Perry contacted the White House in the weeks after January 6th to seek a presidential pardon,” Committee Vice Chairwoman Rep. Liz Cheney, Wyoming Republican, said during the panel’s prime-time hearing.
“Multiple other Republican congressmen also sought presidential pardons for their roles in attempting to overturn the 2020 election,” she said.
Cheney’s presentation was worthy of a major case argued before the Supreme Court. This is also from The Washington Post: “Rep. Liz Cheney tells Americans why Jan. 6 should terrify them. After months of preparation, Cheney tries to convince fellow Republicans and Wyoming voters of a chilling conspiracy.”
On Thursday night, at the first in a series of congressional hearings, Cheney narrated that case with a dispassionate but propulsive presentation of facts, often showing evidence from videotaped depositions from the former president’s inner circle admitting his claims of voter fraud had no merit. She teased the investigation’s biggest findings and sharply criticized her fellow Republicans for the roles that they played — including enabling and continuing to support Trump.
“There will come a point when Donald Trump is gone,” Cheney said, “but your dishonor will remain.”
These hearings, which continue Monday, could mark the pinnacle of Cheney’s political career or the end of it.
The former rising star of the GOP has already been alienated by party leaders, abandoned by longtime supporters and consistently attacked by Trump and his allies, who are backing a primary challenger Cheney will face in August. While most of the nine other Republicans who voted to impeach Trump after Jan. 6 have either decided not to run for reelection or mostly avoided discussing the former president, Cheney has made her role as the vice chair of the select committee investigating the insurrection central to her pitch to voters. She is trying to convince them she’s on the right side of history — and that her Trump-free approach to conservatism is the right one.
Still, Liz Cheney is no hero. (This links to a piece in The UK Independent from a while ago.)
The New York Times‘s Peter Baker writes this lede “Trump Is Depicted as a Would-Be Autocrat Seeking to Hang Onto Power at All Costs. As the Jan. 6 committee outlined during its prime-time hearing, Donald J. Trump executed a seven-part conspiracy to overturn a free and fair democratic election.” Baker describes the overall process and the case it will try to prove as presented in Chair Bennie Thompson’s opening statement.
In the entire 246-year history of the United States, there was surely never a more damning indictment presented against an American president than outlined on Thursday night in a cavernous congressional hearing room where the future of democracy felt on the line.
Other presidents have been accused of wrongdoing, even high crimes and misdemeanors, but the case against Donald J. Trump mounted by the bipartisan House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol described not just a rogue president but a would-be autocrat willing to shred the Constitution to hang onto power at all costs.
As the committee portrayed it during its prime-time televised hearing, Mr. Trump executed a seven-part conspiracy to overturn a free and fair democratic election. According to the panel, he lied to the American people, ignored all evidence refuting his false fraud claims, pressured state and federal officials to throw out election results favoring his challenger, encouraged a violent mob to storm the Capitol and even signaled support for the execution of his own vice president.
“Jan. 6 was the culmination of an attempted coup, a brazen attempt, as one rioter put it shortly after Jan. 6, to overthrow the government,” said Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi and the chairman of the select committee. “The violence was no accident. It represents Trump’s last stand, most desperate chance to halt the transfer of power.”
Axios describes the appearance of Bill Barr’s testimony on video. He was one of the most anticipated ‘guests’ of the night. “Jan 6 committee airs closed door video of Bill Barr deposition”.
The Jan. 6 committee aired a closed door video of former Attorney General Bill Barr’s deposition to kick of the prime-time hearing.
Driving the news: “I told the president it was b******t. I didn’t want to be a part of it,” Barr said.
What they’re saying: CommitteeVice Chair Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) said that testimony will reveal Trump saying that former Vice President Mike Pence “deserves” to be hanged on Jan. 6, which rioters were shouting.
- “Maybe our supporters have the right idea,” Trump said, according to a testimony read by Cheney.
The big picture: Barr, who resigned in December 2020, has said that former President Trump’s false claims about the 2020 presidential election fueled his decision to cut ties with Trump.
- Barr said in December 2020 that the Department of Justice had not uncovered evidence of widespread voter fraud that would change the result of the presidential election.
David Frum–writing at The Atlantic– describes “The One Witness at the January 6 Hearing Who Matters Most. It’s you.
The congressional hearing into the events of January 6 on Thursday night focused attention on a single decisive person. Not the hearing’s powerful chair or the meticulous vice chair. Not the former U.S. president who tried to overthrow the government. Not the former vice president whom the former president said deserved hanging. Not the lawless insurrectionists, not the heroic police officers, not the documentarian who caught history on camera. The single decisive person is: you.
Through the Trump years, weary and defeated observers shrugged that nothing mattered, nothing ever moves the needle. America is two tribes, antagonistic; nothing can budge either one any distance.
This fatalism passed as cleverness, even as wisdom. This fatalism also functioned as an excuse. If nothing can be done, then no one can be blamed for not doing it. If nothing can be done, then we’re all off the hook.
The fatalism was always wrong. The important thing to remember about Donald Trump’s presidency is that he was beaten again, and again, and again. His protective congressional majority was stripped away in 2018. He was twice tainted by impeachment. He was defeated for reelection. His conspiracy to overturn that election defeat was thwarted.
Full justice was not served—not yet, anyway. But the country was saved, because enough people summoned up the nerve to do the right thing. Sometimes, that right thing was a terrifyingly close shave. Sometimes, the people doing the right thing had warmed up with a long spell of doing the wrong thing, as Vice President Mike Pence did a lot of wrong things before he did the right thing on January 6, 2021. But if there is one lesson to take from the Trump years, it’s not the cynical Twitter joke “LOL nothing matters.” The lesson is that everything mattered: every act of conscience, every act of honest reporting, every denial of the Big Lie, every ballot.
There are also those who are as duplicitous as Trump. They need to be held to account also.
Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, reached out to almost 30 Arizona lawmakers following then-President Trump’s defeat in the state’s 2020 election, urging them to reject President Biden’s victory, The Washington Post reported Friday.
The Post reported last month that Ginni Thomas sent emails to two lawmakers six days after the election to tell them to work on behalf of Trump and “fight back against fraud.” The most recent report, based on emails The Post obtained, raises the number Thomas contacted to 29.
We know who matters more to Trump than Ivanka. Of course, it’s himself. We knew it but now there is some proof. From Politico: “‘Checked out’: Trump rebukes Ivanka over Jan. 6 testimony.
Former President Donald Trump on Friday discounted his own daughter’s testimony that the 2020 presidential election results were not fraudulent.
“Ivanka Trump was not involved in looking at, or studying, Election results. She had long since checked out and was, in my opinion, only trying to be respectful to Bill Barr and his position as Attorney General (he sucked!),” Trump posted on Truth Social, the social media platform he helped found.
Barr in his video deposition described Trump’s claims of election fraud as “bullshit.” Ivanka Trump echoed Barr’s comments in her own video testimony.
“I respect Attorney General Barr so I accepted what he was saying,” she said to the committee.
The Capitol Hill police took the last segment of the presentation with their presence and the presence of the widows who lost husbands that day. Via CBS: “Capitol police officer says “It was carnage, it was chaos” during Jan. 6 public hearing testimony.”
A U.S. Capitol Police officer described theas a bloodied “war scene” as she watched injured colleagues try to push back rioters from the Capitol building. Caroline Edwards, believed to be the first law enforcement officer injured by the rioters that day, Thursday to the House committee investigating the attack.
“What I saw was just a war scene,” she said. “It was something like I had seen out of the movies. I could not believe my eyes. There were officers on the ground. They were bleeding. They were throwing up. I saw friends with blood all over their faces. I was slipping in people’s blood. I was catching people as they fell. It was carnage. It was chaos.”
“Never in my wildest dreams did I think that as a police officer and as a law enforcement officer, I would find myself in the middle of a battle,” she continued. “I am trained to detain a couple of subjects and handle a crowd, but I’m not combat trained. And that day, it was just hours of hand-to-hand combat.”
I’m not sure if I did any justice to this coverage and event last night but I hope you’ll join me in describing your reaction. For me, it seems like I just relived something that I never ever expected to see in my lifetime. It feels personal and creates a level of PTSD in me that cannot even get on the Richter Scale of those officers whose lives were on the line. I have never felt closer to those of us that truly care about the dream of liberty and justice for all among us. I’m not sure what we all did to deserve this.
Take care this weekend. The Jan. 6 committee’s next hearing is Monday at 10 a.m. EDT. I will see you then to live blog our next step in this American Journey.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?