I am not going to go so far as to say I was let down by Thursday night’s prime time hearing of the Jan. 6 Select Committee, because I wasn’t. There was enough red meat on the bone to feed a whole dog pack. If the eighth hearing in the series did not entirely live up to the pre-game hype I reported on yesterday, maybe that’s because the previous seven had been so damned good. Last night felt a little like a victory lap, a reminder of the story that has been told.
They say repetition is good memory. Let’s hope so.
Memory is key, so you’ll recall the famous photo of GOP Rep. Josh Hawley saluting the riotersAs he made his way towards the Capitol on Jan. 6, “We spoke with a Capitol Police officer who was out there at that time,” notedRepresentative Elaine Luria, a member of the committee, during the hearing. “She told us that Senator Hawley’s gesture riled up the crowd, and it bothered her greatly because he was doing it in a safe space, protected by the officers and the barriers.” That image was deftly contrasted with video of Hawley hauling ass out of the buildingAnd away from the violence that would follow that day. Monty Python leaps unavoidably to mind: “Brave Sir Robin ran away…”
“187 minutes” was the overarching theme of the evening. Every warm body that could speak up demanded Trump stop the violence. It was not the right thing to do, but it is important to make a decision. Beyond asking for a list of senators to pester about overthrowing the results — Rudy Giuliani was doing the same thing — Trump did nothing to quell the riot, and he could have. He did not want it stopped.
Then there were the outtakes, the clips of video filmed the day after the attack, when Trump tried to fill three short minutes with pieties and scolding… but just couldn’t bring himself to put a bad word on the “patriots” who had spent the day before trying to salvage his election loss at the butt end of a length of pipe. The video shows a man who looks like he just bit into a very old lemon while trying to pass a kidney stone, and the transcript… well, here:
I would like to begin by addressing the heinous attack yesterday.… (weird hand gesture, cut) To those who broke the law, you will pay. You do not represent our movement, you do not represent our country, and if you broke the law… can’t say that, I’m not, I already said ‘you will pay’ (another weird hand gesture, cut).… The demonstrators who infiltrated the Capitol have defied the seat (slaps podium) it’s “defiled,” right? I can’t see it very well. I’ll do this, I’m gonna do this, let’s go (cut).… But this election is now over. The results have been certified by Congress. I don’t want to say the election’s over, I just want to say “Congress has certified the results” without saying the election’s over, OK? Let me see, go to the paragraph before (cut, messes with sport coat)… OK? I would like to begin by addressing the heinous attack yesterday… ‘yesterday’ is a hard word for me. Take the word ‘yesterday’ out, cuz it doesn’t work with ‘the heinous attack on our country,’ say ‘on our country,’ wanna say that? (cut) My only goal was to ensure the integrity of the vote (violent gesture, grimace, cut)… My only goal was to ensure the integrity of the vote (pained expression, slaps podium, cut, fade).
“I don’t want to say the election’s over,” Trump puled. Well, it’s been 18 months. Why not now? Or later? Or perhaps never?
For me, the most damning passage in the hearing came when those testifying explained how the demeanor of the crowd changed after Trump’s mid-afternoon tweet that Pence had let him down. The mob had been violent and angry already, but word from Trump that Pence had screwed them all led to a detonation of wrath from the rioters that had some in Pence’s security detail radioing in farewell messagesTheir families. These were the same Secret Service agents who tried getting Pence into the car with which he was not interested? More evidence is needed.
And that’s the good news: The committee is going to take the month of August to rake up all the as-yet-unexamined leaves they’ve shaken from the trees, and begin the hearings again in September. This will not be a joyful noise for Republicans running in the November midterms, but as Finley Peter Dunne once said, politics ain’t beanbag.
It’s always fascinating to see Democrats remember they actually have muscles, too.
AG Garland has been notified. Thursday night was about making this clear.