The House Special Committee to investigate January 6 has issued its final report, issued in time before it disappears like a building swallowed up in a sink hole, when the Republicans take over next month. A review of its summary report reveals its overwhelming goal. All but four the 26 official “findings” squarely lay the blame on Donald Trump. (One other only partly lays the blame on him.) Donald Trump “knowingly” disseminated false election claims says the first finding. Knowing what would be the result, Donald Trump engaged in “a multi-part conspiracy to overturn the lawful results of the 2020 Presidential election” reads the twelfth. And so on. Only the 13th finding – that law enforcement did everything it could – and the 14th – that Antifa was not involved – don’t mention Trump at all.
Trump’s Involvement in January 6th
Of course Trump was centrally involved in January 6th, and the Committee proved that through the testimony of one witness after another, the overwhelming majority of whom were Republicans. What the Committee report leaves out, though, is the role of Trump’s camouflaged co-conspirators. To understand who these are, one must look back to 2016. As far back as then, Trump made his intentions clear when he claimed that millions of “illegal immigrants” had voted. Following that election, he commented on retaining power beyond the Constitutional legal limit of 2023 (his hypothetical second term at the time). In July of 2020, Trump refused to give a direct answer when asked on Fox whether he’d concede if he lost the election. He followed this up in September when he demurred when asked the same question. “Get rid of the [mail-in] ballots and you’ll have a very peaceful – there won’t be a transfer, frankly. There will be a continuation,” he replied.
By then, anybody who isn’t named Rip Van Winkle would have to have had known that what Trump says must be taken seriously.
- Trump’s continual demands that Pence violate the Constitution and miscount the electoral college votes?
- Trump’s call to his violent supporters to come to DC on January 6 and his comment that it “will be wild”?
- His clear connections with violent groups like the Proud Boys?
All this was publicly known before January 6.
Bill Barr and other Republicans
The Committee also established that there were communications between these groups and some within Trump’s inner circle, probably including Mark Meadows. Note that his loyal attorney general, Bill Barr, stuck with Trump until nearly the end, but Barr conveniently made sure to get out of town (figuratively and literally) on January 1. It is not credible that Barr, the chief law enforcement officer in the nation, didn’t know what was being planned. Yet he said nothing, gave no warning whatsoever.
Equally significant is that the Committee apparently never asked Barr what he knew prior to January 6. Nor did it ask him why, if he was so committed to the Constitution and the peaceful transfer of power, did he stick with Trump until then. After all, as we point out, Trump had made his intentions clear years in advance.
Instead, the Committee praises him and a whole host of other top Republicans including acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, former Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia, low level Trump administration aides like Cassidy Hutchinson, and local and state Republicans like Brad Raffensperger (Georgia) and Al Schmidt (Philadelphia). On the other hand, it condemns those who didn’t cooperate, first and foremost Mark Meadows.
The question that must be raised for every single one of these – as well as Committee members Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger – is this: “You all knew exactly what Trump was. You knew his corrupt practices and dictatorial tendencies. Yet every single one of you opposed the first impeachment, when he proved his intent to use foreign policy for his own personal advantage. Every single one of you supported him in 2020. If you are so committed to ‘the rule of law’, how do you explain that?”
Anthony Ornato and the Secret Service
There is another glaring coverup: The Committee criticized Anthony Ornato. Ornato had been a high up officer in the Secret Service. He then worked for the Trump reelection campaign and then transitioned to a political appointee after the 2020 election and then returned to the Secret Service. He resigned the Secret Service on Aug. 29, 2022. Ornato had been intimately involved in the protection of Trump on January 6. The Committee criticized Ornato for giving “testimony consistent with the false account in Meadows’s book” and for claiming he “couldn’t recall” when it’s pretty clear he was just covering up. In other words, Ornato covered up for the fact that he was at least on the fringes of the plan to keep Trump in office.
But the main question is this: As we know, the Secret Service agents who surrounded Trump had deleted their phones’ text messages of January 5 and 6, after the Committee requested them. The summary report makes no mention of this, nor is there any evidence that they questioned Ornato or anybody else in or formerly in the Secret Service about that. Ornato’s role covering up for Trump, and his former position in charge of training other agents makes clear that there must be a whole nest of such agents in the Secret Service. Who are they? What role do they play to this day? What role did they play in the reported fear of Pence that his Secret Service detail was trying to get him out of town on January 6 so that Biden could not be officially declared the winner?
Trump v Ron DeSantis
Today all this matters because it is seeming increasingly likely that Trump will not be able to win the 2024 Republican nomination. Up until the mid term elections, Trump was by far and away the preferred nominee among Republicans. In early December, however a poll showed that DeSantis had a plurality of support (47%) vs. 42% for Trump. A subsequent poll, taken a few weeks later, showed DeSantis’s lead had swelled to an absolute majority (56%) among self identified “conservative or very conservative” Republicans. Some claim that the work of the Committee itself was responsible for undercutting Trump’s support among Republicans, and it may have had some effect. However, the evidence is that the main effect was the result of the mid term elections themselves, in which all but one of the nine Trump endorsed candidates for state wide office lost. As Republican Senator Bill Cassidy (LA) said “I think the red wave becoming the red ripple [in the mid terms] probably had as great an impact as anything. People started to say we can’t win with this guy…”
DeSantis and the “White Grievance” Party
Ron, “Trump-with-a-Brain”, DeSantis is more dangerous than is Trump, exactly because he has a brain and knows how to use it. He is disciplined and more dedicated to achieving power than just making money. Stuart Stevens is a former advisor to that living icon of the Old Guard of the Republican Party, Mitt Romney. Stevens summed it up: “The G.O.P. has become a white-grievance party… To me, Ron DeSantis is a fairly run-of-the-mill politician who will do anything to get elected. The problem is what the Party has become. It’s a race to the bottom.”
Democrats, “bipartisanship” and capitalist democracy
The Democrats overriding concerns are two-fold: First is to try to reestablish the old collaboration – “bipartisanship” as they call it. Related to that is to ensure that the “transfer of power” – the handing over of the presidency from one person to another – is done peacefully, as has been the case for the last 224 years. But what difference does this really make if “Trump with a Brain” becomes president with the “White Grievance Party” backing him up?
We are a very long way from 2024; anything could happen before then. But one thing seems nearly certain: The old way of capitalist rule is dead and gone. It is extremely difficult to see how the old Republican Party can return. This means that they are a real threat to capitalist rule through normal democratic means. It’s true that those means of rule – capitalist or “bourgeois” democracy – is responsible for unspeakable suffering and crime including racism, poverty, repression around the world and environmental disaster. There’s just one thing: Capitalist one-person dictatorship (“Bonapartism”) is many times worse. That’s because it’s many times more difficult for the working class to organize and to exert its influence.
Working class party
As Oaklandsocialist has pointed out many times over, what’s necessary is an independent mobilization of workers and working class youth, leading to an independent mass working class party, one based on socialist principles.
Update: The release of the full testimony of different witnesses reveals that Cassidy Hutchinson, former assistant to Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows, regularly saw Meadows burn transcripts of meetings in his office fireplace. Yet she never breathed a word of that until she had to. Not only that, but closed door meetings at which she was present were not logged in. When asked what was discussed in those meetings she gave the classic answer: “I can’t recall”. Yet Hutchinson is lauded as a hero of the whole sorry affair. No, she is just acting on the old principle: CYA.