Monday, January 3, 2022

While Trump fiddled our capitol burned

That is, metaphorically of course.

In the January 2, 2022 edition of Letters from an American Heather Cox Richardson provides an update on the Jan 6 committee. Particularly revealing is what Liz Cheney reports.

Today, members of the January 6 committee revealed some of what they have learned. On ABC’s This Week, committee chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS) told host George Stephanopoulos that “we have uncovered some things that cause us real concern,” and that “[i]t appeared to be a coordinated effort on the part of a number of people to undermine the election.”

On the same program and on CBS’s Face The Nation, committee vice chair Liz Cheney (R-WY) painted a picture of Trump watching the attack on the Capitol from the private dining room in the White House, refusing to call off the rioters despite the pleas of his staff, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and even his own daughter Ivanka.

His refusal to act, Cheney continues to emphasize, was a “supreme dereliction of duty.” He was the only person who could have stopped the rioters—many of whom have since told courts that they were there because they believed he had called them to be—and he refused to act. Instead, he tweeted that Vice President Mike Pence was a coward, and made at least one phone call to a senator demanding a delay in counting the electoral votes. When he finally did release a video telling the rioters to leave, more than three hours after the attack started, Trump acknowledged that he did, in fact, know that he commanded them.

We’ll see where this goes, but to this historian and non-lawyer (!) it does seem like he’s coming perilously close to being called out for leading a conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding.

Aside from the story of what Trump was doing—or not doing—in those crucial hours, Cheney’s interviews this morning revealed that the committee has gathered testimony from those who had access to Trump during the course of January 6. She said they had “first-hand testimony” that Trump was watching television in his private dining room, as well as that Ivanka asked him to call his supporters off. The information that the committee has a window into the White House that day has got to make certain people uncomfortable.

Cheney was talking not just about the past, but also about the future. She wants “the American people to understand how dangerous Donald Trump was.” He “went to war with the rule of law.” “Any man…who would provoke a violent assault on the Capitol to stop the counting of electoral votes, any man who would watch television as police officers were being beaten, as his supporters were invading the Capitol of the United States is clearly unfit for future office, clearly can never be anywhere near the Oval Office ever again.”

Cheney had a very clear message for her colleagues: The Republican Party “can either be loyal to Donald Trump or we can be loyal to the Constitution, but we cannot be both.”

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