“Something old and something new” could be the summary of the eighth day of public hearings from the January 6 committee. The committee seems to be doing a couple of things: First is to in effect build a criminal case against Trump. In any criminal trial, the prosecution must go step-by-step, proving the accused’s guilt in sometimes boring detail.
They “proved” what we already knew. For example, the committee juxtaposed events at the Capitol with Trump tweets. They showed that Trump was watching Fox that entire time and what Fox News was showing at 2:24 p.m. on that day. The rioters were rampaging through the Capitol building, chanting “hang Mike Pence”, “Mike Pence traitor” and shouting at Pence’s security detail “say goodbye to your family”. The Secret Service agents were sending radio messages to each other that they feared for their lives. Meanwhile Trump, who was watching Fox at the time, egged them on. He tweeted: “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution…”
The main point they proved was that Trump wasn’t simply guilty of “dereliction of duty”; he consciously chose to encourage the crowd. They proved that Trump only urged the rioters to go home once it became clear that law enforcement was mobilizing and was going to drive them out of the Capitol building. The proved from video taken by the rioters that once Trump urged them to go home, they reacted to his urging; in other words, he could have stopped them any time he’d wanted to.
The president is supposed to keep a log of all his phone calls. There is no record of his calls from 11:06 a.m. to 6:54 p.m. The committee presented the proof that he called at least one senator during those hours and he evidently was calling others, all through is personal phone rather than calling through the White House switchboard. He was calling them to urge them to oppose accepting the election results.
The planned violent overthrow of the election results was also shown, including the fact that two pipe bombs were found near the Capitol on that day. Even more ominous was the statement from one of the Proud Boys that “this is what we trained for.” Where else their training will be turned in the future?
A good laugh was provided when they showed the photo of Senator Josh Hawley looking brave and strong giving the clenched fist salute to the rioters as he passed them by on his way to the Capitol. Then they showed Hawley running like a scared rabbit as he goes to hide inside the building.
Overall, the hearing pretty much proved the case that Trump was complicit in the riot/coup attempt. Trump is not guilty of a “dereliction of duty”; he is guilty of conspiracy and, in fact, of sedition. But there seems to be almost no chance that Attorney General Merrick Garland will move to indict Trump. Garland has already said that he won’t indict Trump’s former chief of staff Mark Meadows for the even more open and shut case of contempt of congress. Bringing criminal charges against Trump would create an unprecedented political scandal as well as likely terrorist repercussions.
So what was the purpose of this hearing?
First is the hope to undermine Trump with the electorate, based on the unrealistic view that Trump and Trump alone is the cause of the Republican Party’s having taken its present direction. In any case, the Trump supporters are not watching the hearings. And they will deny any reports on the hearings just like they deny the fact of global warming or the dangers of covid. But there is a middle layer – the “soccer mom” independents and a small layer of those who normally vote Republican. Cheney and Kinzinger (the two Republicans on the committee) hope they can regain control over the Republican Party through them. That is a forlorn hope. As for the Democrats, they hope to win those votes this fall.
More importantly, the committee hopes it can win away the Trump supporters among the Republican members of congress, those who have jumped on the Trump bandwagon simply because that’s the side on which their bread is buttered. That is the definition of living in a dream world.
Republican “opponents” of Trump
The committee members constantly praised the former Trump supporters/administrators who left his administration. Who are they in reality? Two shining examples are Cassidy Hutchinson and Sarah Matthews (who testified on Thursday). Matthews proudly recounted how she’d worked with Trump for years and “saw the impact his words have with people.” Cassidy Hutchinson, who had also worked for Trump for years, talked about “all the good things he (Trump) had done for the country.” In her summary, Liz Cheney talked about how all women could be proud of these women. Oh, yes. These two women who helped facilitate the ending of abortion rights for women across the United States – other women can be proud of them! Of course, for Cheney that is not so much of a problem since she, herself, supports the Hyde Amendment and other sharp limitations on access to abortion. (Kinzinger also opposes abortion rights.)
They – all of these witnesses – are simply rats leaving a sinking ship. Mat Bai, writing in the Washington Post, put it well: “Matthews, Pottinger, Judd Deere, Eric Herschmann, Pat Cipollone, Kayleigh McEnany — none of them are really all that different from Josh Hawley, the senator shown fleeing the Capitol after having riled up the rioters with a raised fist. All of them enabled a president who stirred up the worst emotions in American life, who lit the fuse on a crude bomb and then recklessly hurled it… It just took a little longer to play out.” Bai excused Hutchinson on the grounds that she’s young. But Hutchinson was old enough to know exactly what she was doing. She is equally guilty.
As for Cheney and Kinzinger: They both voted against the first Trump impeachment, although it was already clear that he was going on to bigger and worse things if he could get away with it. They both supported Trump’s reelection campaign. In that campaign, he made it clear that he would not accept electoral defeat. In other words, he already laid out his general plan. Yet Kinzinger and Cheney supported him. Neither has opposed Republicans’ plans for vote nullification. In other words, they just support a legal coup vs. a violent one. Yet the Democrats lionize them as if they were some sort of heroes.
This is of course a basic democratic right, but it goes entirely ignored when the issue of Trump’s attempted overthrow of “our democracy” is discussed. Instead, what is emphasized over and over is “the peaceful transfer of power”. However, this simply means the transfer of the presidency from one individual to another. But the entire history of the January 6 coup attempt shows – as well the history of the Trump administration itself – power does not reside in just one individual; who is president matters, but in the end real power it resides in the various wings of the government, first and foremost the military and law enforcement. As Oaklandsocialist has recounted time and again, Trump tried to take direct personal control over those wings, but he failed.
Trump and his forces have made inroads into both the tops of the military and the forces of law enforcement, however. Until now, they will not act along the lines Trump and his type want without legal cover, however. That legal cover may well be provided by the Trump-controlled Supreme Court.
The “team normal” Republicans are also laying another trap for the Democrats: They both agree that it was entirely wrong to continue to challenge the results of the election. Once an election has been decided then that’s it. But what will happen if Republican state legislatures “legally” overturn the legitimate results of an election, either for state representatives (senators or members of the House) or a presidential election? The Democrats have already painted themselves into a corner whereby they will be guilty of exactly what they and their Republican partners are attacking Trump for!
Hanging over the hearings is the issue of the Secret Service having deleted their text messages from January 5 and 6th. Apparently these were the text messages between the details that protect Trump and Pence. It seems highly unlikely that text messages from only these two days were accidentally deleted. There is some talk that the Secret Service wanted these text messages deleted because they would confirm Cassidy Hutchinson’s story that Trump grabbed his agent by the neck, but there may be even more involved. There is the story circulating that Pence’s security detail – possibly including Ornato – tried to convince him to get into a limo but Pence refused because he feared that they were going to take him out of town. That would have accomplished Trump’s aim of preventing Pence from certifying the election. We know that a top agent – Anthony Ornato – was also a Trump loyalist. Were there text messages on those dates that would confirm that plan? We will probably never know. However, a former Secret Service agent was interviewed on CNN on Saturday. He tried to smooth the issue over by assuring the listeners about the non-political nature of the Secret Service and saying that it’s highly unlikely that it was anything more than a bureaucratic snafu. In the course of doing so, he raised even more suspicions, though, because he said that the normal way that agents communicate with each other is by radio. The radio messages are all recorded and remain on record. So, why were the details that protected Trump and Pence communicating via text message?
This whole issue of the Secret Service relates to the wider question of to what degree can the mainstream of the US capitalist class trust their own law enforcement apparatus. We know that there are hundreds of sheriffs in the fascist Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association (CSPOA). There are thousands of cops in the Oath keepers. There are similar elements in the US military. (See: https://oaklandsocialist.com/2022/05/16/racist-murders-in-buffalo-a-warning-to-be-taken-seriously/). It stands to reason that these forces are also in the FBI and the Secret Service.
Overall, these hearings give a valuable insight into what happened in the lead up to and on the day of the coup attempt. They give a valuable insight into the crisis of the two capitalist parties and their strategies. They give a valuable insight into the crisis of the US capitalist class itself. And when one looks beneath the surface one can see the weakness, in fact the fraudulent nature of “our democracy” under US capitalist rule. Although one thing must be admitted: It’s a lot better than the one person dictatorship that seriously threatens, Trump or no Trump.