Heather Cox Richardson reviews the “eye-popping” documents provided to the Jan 6 House Select Committee. (published Dec 14) Following are some excerpts from the Dec 13 edition of Letters from an American
Tonight (Dec 13), the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol held a televised hearing to vote on whether to hold Trump’s White House chief of staff Mark Meadows in contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena. Their answer was yes, unanimously, by a vote of 9–0. More, even than that, though, was that in order to justify their votes they dropped some details about what happened on January 6.
What they revealed was eye-popping.
All members of the committee spoke tonight, underscoring the importance of the moment.
Representative Liz Cheney (R-WY) grabbed the headlines, though, as she read text messages Meadows received on January 6. They included texts from lawmakers to Meadows begging Trump to call off the rioters, making it crystal clear that those closest to him understood that those attacking the Capitol would respond to his orders. Dozens of texts urged the president to act to stop the protesters: “Someone is going to get killed.” “POTUS needs to calm this sh*t down.”
Cheney said: “These texts leave no doubt: the White House knew exactly what was happening at the Capitol. Members of Congress, the press, and others wrote to Mark Meadows as the attack was underway.”
And yet, Trump remained unmoved for 187 minutes while our Capitol was under attack and lawmakers hid from the mob. As Cheney said: “Hours passed without necessary action by the president. These non privileged texts are further evidence of President Trump’s supreme dereliction of duty during those 187 minutes.”
Cheney took the fight directly to Trump with her accusation of “dereliction of duty.” The Capitol was under attack, and the one person who everyone believed could stop the attack, the commander-in-chief, refused to. A number of lawmakers tossed the term “dereliction of duty” around immediately after the insurrection, but it has faded from conversation as Republicans have lined up again behind the former president. It is, though, an offense under the U.S. military code, and therefore is something that people understand is serious.
Cheney was more specific in another accusation of criminal behavior. After establishing that many lawmakers and media personalities begged then-president Trump to call off the rioters, she asked: “Did Donald Trump, through action or inaction, corruptly seek to obstruct or impede Congress’s proceedings?”
What Cheney did tonight was courageous. She put herself on the line in the struggle to hold Trump and his loyalists accountable. As other lawmakers claim to be afraid to stand up to Trump out of fear for their safety, she has made herself a key target of the Trump loyalists in order to defend our democracy.
But that was not all that happened in the hearing …
You can find out more in the Dec 13 edition of Letters from an American