January 6 hearing conjures up chilling picture of Trump’s future tyranny
“What else is he going to do if he’s re-elected?” former Oath Keepers spokesman Jason Van Tatenhove asked during testimony in which he warned the ex-president would ‘stir up a civil war among his supporters, using lies and deceit’ he was launching another campaign for the White House in 2024.
The scenario he conjures up is hardly hypothetical since Trump and his true supporters have never ceased their assault on democracy. The former president is stepping up his lies about non-existent voter fraud in 2020. He’s salivating over yet another presidential campaign he would use as a new platform for his misinformation. Countless Republican candidates are running in midterm elections on his lies about a stolen presidential election.
How Trump exploited extremism below the surface of American politics
This ongoing effort to undermine American institutions and the rule of law shows that Trump’s threat to democracy has not ended in 2021. Whatever impact the committee may have on the ex-Trump’s future political prospects president, and whether or not he ends up facing criminal charges, one gets the feeling that while documenting Trump’s past transgressions, the committee is also rushing to follow up on his news.
The subtext of Tuesday’s hearing was an effort to expose a seam of far-right extremism that exists beneath the surface of American political life through questions about the militia-like formation and aspirations of the Oath Keepers. . In retrospect, Trump’s frequent equivocations about these radical and white supremacist groups and his violent rhetoric at rallies appear as the progressive legitimization of the use of violence to promote political end. His incitement peaked on January 6, 2021.
It’s particularly chilling because it mirrors the tactics of foreign despots and extremists in fractured societies abroad where democracy has failed. And there is no indication that the ex-president would abandon this stew of extremism during a future political campaign. His past conduct suggests just the opposite.
Tuesday’s hearing also implicitly raised the question of why members of these extremist groups have faced trial for their actions on January 6 in several court cases as the former president continues to evade legal sanctions for incitement. to riot. One of the convicted Capitol rioters, Stephen Ayres, testified that he came forward specifically because he was upset after hearing the ex-president’s claims that the 2020 had been stolen.
Yet, as shocking as Tuesday’s revelations were, and despite strong suggestions that the words, actions and activity of some of his most committed Trump enablers helped spark the riot, the audience didn’t agree. did not contain a single moment in which it was shown that Trump or a proxy ordered the extremists to act or knew for certain what they would do. This lack of evidence of intent will play into the raging debate over whether the committee has produced a case that could make it to criminal court after any Justice Department investigation.
However, the political case that the committee presents to the public is convincing and can already influence the political strategy of the ex-president. Trump plans to launch a 2024 campaign as soon as this month, in part to allow him to present his own high-level defense against the committee’s findings, CNN’s Kristen Holmes reported. It’s an indication of how the extraordinary catalog of evidence the panel has amassed — despite efforts by pro-Trump Republicans to discredit it — could play into the run-up to November’s midterm elections and the race. in the White House in 2024.
The next step in a multi-layer case
Tuesday’s hearing presented new evidence of Trump’s complicity in the Jan. 6 rally. It exposed links between supporters of the former president, like Roger Stone and former national security adviser Michael Flynn, and extremists. It featured new testimony collected from former White House attorney Pat Cipollone last week, which, while at times limited by claims of executive privilege, has further hurt the ex-president as he has revealed his madness and desperate attempts to cling to power.
That December meeting played an important role in Tuesday’s narrative, as it added another layer to the case regarding Trump’s incitement of the Jan. 6 mob.
Previously, hearings had advanced a theory that Trump knew his campaign lies were false because several officials told him. But he kept going, trying to find ever more extreme associates who would tell him what he wanted to hear. Then he turned to the futile attempt to get ex-Vice President Mike Pence to block Biden’s succession with non-existent constitutional tools.
Tuesday’s testimony represented an attempt to show that when those avenues failed to nullify the election, the committee found, Trump turned to mob rule. The case for the panel is that Trump rounded up the crowd, blamed them for their campaign lies and incited their march to Congress, even knowing that many of its members were armed.
Cheney argued that this pattern of behavior was evidence of guilt and warned of an emerging line of defense in the Trump world — that the president was misled by unscrupulous advisers like Powell or attorney John Eastman.
“That, of course, makes no sense,” Cheney said, adding that Trump was “a 76-year-old man and not an impressionable child. Like everyone else in our country, he is responsible for his own actions and for his own choices.”
The Wyoming Republican’s latest sharp warning sounded like a veiled suggestion to the Justice Department that Attorney General Merrick Garland should consider a criminal investigation of the former president for his actions on Jan. 6. But on its own, that didn’t quite answer the question of whether there was evidence that Trump ordered, rather than simply instigated, the Capitol riot — a distinction that could be important in court.
One of Cheney’s fellow Democrats, Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin, a constitutional scholar, put the ex-president’s actions in a broader context, as he said his attempt to destroy American democracy was exactly what the founders had in mind when they built democratic guarantees as they forged a new nation in the 18th century. Arguing that political leaders who incite crowds often turn into tyrants, he posed a question to Americans as Trump is seemingly poised to seek a return to power.
“The crucial thing is the next step. What this committee, what all of us, will do to fortify our democracy against coups, political violence and campaigns to steal elections from the people,” Raskin said.
“Unlike Mr. Ayres and Mr. Van Tatenhove, people who have recovered and moved on from the descent into hell of fanaticism, Donald Trump has only developed his big lie.”