The January 6 Committee cannot save democracy

Imagine your dad encouraging a massive mob of rabid righties bent on storming the US Capitol and overturning the presidential election, ...


Imagine your dad encouraging a massive mob of rabid righties bent on storming the US Capitol and overturning the presidential election, and the only way to get him to tell the group to go home is to text his lackey.

This is the predicament Donald Trump Jr., son of the former president, found himself in early on January 6.

This week, the American public discovered that Trump Jr. blasted Mark Meadows‘ cell phone to get her father to call off the violence that took place at the Capitol that day.

The texts, which the select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol released this week, revealed there’s a good chance the former president won’t take calls of his eldest.

After Donald Trump was impeached for the second time earlier this year and Congress has yet to convict, it was clear where future investigations would end. First, Democrats proposed a 9/11-style commission, but Republicans rejected that idea. Instead, the House formed the select committee of seven Democrats and two Republicans, who were virtually excommunicated from their party for their willingness to investigate the attack on the Capitol.

Since the committee was formed in July, the American people have heard damning reports from law enforcement personnel who battled rioters on Capitol Hill. They saw the select committee issue a cascade of subpoenas for right-wing activists and even Trump White House employees suspected of involvement.

the treasure of text messages the panel released this week includes messages from anonymous lawmakers and Fox News TV hosts to Meadows itself; while some privately panicked on January 6, others were candid about their desire to overthrow the US government.

If America was a high-profile TV drama, the current political climate suggests we’re approaching the midseason cliffhanger.

But while the cache of texts offers a little more insight into how close Trump came to canceling the 2020 election, what’s more concerning is how little this committee really can do about it.

“If all Congress can do is look down on the putschists, well, I have bad news for you.”

Steve Bannon was charged with criminal contempt of Congress in October for ignoring the committee’s subpoena, and last month the Justice Department formally charged him. He was released without bail and appeared uninterested in the charge. On the contrary, it has energized members of the Republican base who see the whole investigation as a kind of political persecution.

“It will be the crime from hell,” Bannon said last month.

Others in Trump circles have likened the committee to “political games.”

January 6thand The select committee is nothing more than a political witch hunt aimed at attacking Donald J. Trump and his supporters,” said Rep. Barry Moore (R-Ala.) said in a statement earlier this week.

This week, the committee also voted to despise Meadows. What harm does it do to a man who willfully called his book on his visit to the White House “fake news” to appease his former boss? If the most Congress can do is scorn the putschists, well, I have bad news for you.

Consider what actually happens when Congress hands out this punishment.

In 2020, Congress voted to despise Chad Wolf, then head of the Department of Homeland Security, after he skipped a hearing on allegations he edited national security intelligence and ignored a subpoena.

Where is Wolf now? He does what all former members of a Republican administration do: he heads a right-wing think tank, the America First Policy Institute, is a visiting fellow at the Heritage Foundation, and has been busy tweeting about alleged socialist tendencies in the President Joe Biden.

Of course, the Trump administration was in power then, so it’s no surprise that the Justice Department refused to act. But now, with Biden at the helm, liberals and anti-Trumpers may be hoping for harsh punishment. Unfortunately for them, however, criminal contempt of Congress is a case extremely difficult to prove for the DOJ. The last time this happened was in 1982, under the Ronald Reagan administration.

After Donald Trump was impeached for the second time earlier this year and Congress has yet to convict, it was clear where future investigations would end.
After Donald Trump was impeached for the second time earlier this year and Congress has yet to convict, it was clear where future investigations would end.

Photo by Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

A real hurdle for the Democrats and the two Republicans on the select committee is that the GOP has proven time and time again that the party is united at all costs. And not just Republican lawmakers, but the talking heads on television who have been broadcasting the GOP agenda and right-wing figureheads who will do whatever it takes to advance conservative ideology. Nearly a year after the insurgency, the big lie about the “stolen” 2020 election is canon, and one would be hard pressed to find a Republican speaking ill of Trump when many are still actively promoting him.

Meanwhile, Democrats control two branches of government but are still struggling to advance Biden’s agenda. It is hard to imagine that a party that cannot even pass politically popular legislation can do anything substantial in the face of the massive threat to democracy facing the country.

In February, Democrats extended Trump’s second impeachment trial with a vote on whether or not the Senate should call witnesses, surprising everyone when it passed with five republicans. They could have taken the opportunity to hear from more people involved in the insurrection. But then the Democrats balked. They didn’t want the trial to take too long, and there was a planned break that was clearly more important to them than the consequences for Trump.

The same Democrats who squandered this opportunity simply cannot be expected to do anything revolutionary this time around.

I am sure that in the months to come the public will discover even more heartbreaking and insidious details of what happened on January 6th. But millions of people watched live as Trump supporters stormed the Capitol, and so far most of the people who have been punished have not been those in power at the time.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy certainly won’t be interested in investigating the insurgency if the GOP takes over the House next year ― and he has a pretty good luck.

Ultimately, January 6 was about overturning a free and fair election. People who failed to do it the first time find out where they went wrong and consider trying again. And no committee can stop them.

CORRECTION: This story has been edited to note that Democrats control two, not three, branches of government.



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Newsrust - US Top News: The January 6 Committee cannot save democracy
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