Last week, a congressional committee began an unflinching conversation with the citizens of this country about, in the words of the committee chair, Donald Trump’s last stand, his attempt to spur the enemies of the Constitution to subvert American democracy.

Facts about what happened during the Jan. 6, 2021, attack were clearly and soberly laid out. Videotaped testimony underscored those findings. The rallying cries of the former president and the ensuing breach of the Capitol were shown for all to see.

It was the first of several hearings by the Jan. 6 committee that are meant, in part, for the history books. But the importance of the hearings isn’t simply about holding Mr. Trump, his allies and the flag-draped thugs storming the halls to account. The hearings challenge all Americans to recommit to the principles of democracy, ask how important those values are to us and face the threats posed to our democratic way of life.

Those threats are real and present, as Mr. Trump prepares to possibly again seek the office he has already desecrated once. The committee is doing its duty to defend against these threats by presenting evidence that the attack on the Capitol was not an isolated event, that it was a coordinated assault and that it continues to this very day. Our duty, as American citizens, is to participate fully in this process, by watching and absorbing the committee’s evidence and considering what it would mean for our democracy if Mr. Trump were to run for president again.

The eloquent restraint of the committee’s leaders was equal to the gravity of the task before them. The chair, Bennie Thompson, a Black former schoolteacher from Bolton, Miss., called back to history. He invoked the words of Abraham Lincoln, who wrote, before the critical election of 1864, “This morning, as for some days past, it seems exceedingly probable that this administration will not be re-elected. Then it will be my duty to so cooperate with the president-elect,” in making a solemn commitment to accept the results even if a loss might have meant the end of our Union.

The vice chair, Liz Cheney of Wyoming, who has been marginalized by her fellow Republicans for condemning Mr. Trump, warned of judgment from generations to come. Addressing her colleagues’ defense of “the indefensible,” she said, “There will come a day when Donald Trump is gone, but your dishonor will remain.”

The chilling videos and interviews aired in the two hours of the hearing did far more than replay the familiar horrors. They were revelatory and dramatic, showing how Mr. Trump urged his followers to violate the Constitution and refused to rein them in even when his most loyal aides pleaded with him to do so.

Republican politicians, with brave exceptions such as Ms. Cheney, have dismissed the hearings as unimportant, a partisan show trial and an unwarranted political attack on Mr. Trump. The House Republican leader, Kevin McCarthy — whose office was seen being overrun in one of the clips — declared that congressional Republicans will issue their own report on Jan. 6, focusing on the security preparations. This misdirection tries to obscure the truth of what is in that footage: Many of the same Republicans had to flee their chamber in panic as a howling mob rampaged through the Capitol.

The absence of full Republican participation in the hearings does not diminish their importance. On the contrary, the absence has prodded Mr. Thompson and Ms. Cheney to ensure that every accusation they level is supported by evidence. Mr. Trump’s heretofore loyal attorney general, William P. Barr, testified that he told the president that his claims of a stolen election were “bullshit.” Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter, said that she accepted Mr. Barr’s conclusion. And some of the same Republicans who now downplay Jan. 6 are said to have asked for presidential pardons in its aftermath.

These politicians know that something truly terrible happened on Jan. 6, and confronting it is essential to healing our divided nation. At least 20 million people watched the opening session of the hearings on Thursday; our democracy will be strengthened if they are followed and experienced by everyone, in the same way the Senate Watergate hearings into the misdeeds of an earlier president transfixed the nation in 1973.

The stakes today are arguably far higher: This investigation is an attempt by the elected representatives and civil servants of our democracy to figure out how it nearly came undone. As Ms. Cheney said, “We all have a duty to ensure that what happened on Jan. 6 never happens again.”

Those Americans who still believe in Mr. Trump and his grievances may disagree with whatever conclusions the committee draws, but we urge them to see and hear the evidence the committee has collected from interviewing 1,000 witnesses and gathering more than 140,000 documents.

Those Americans who were horrified by Jan. 6 also must not turn away in the belief that they already know what happened. There is much more to come in future hearings that has not yet been publicly disclosed. Gaining a deeper and more detailed understanding of the forces at work inside the White House, among Republicans speaking and texting that day and at the Capitol is essential to facing an essential truth about democracy: that it depends on leaders who commit to a peaceful transfer of power.

The insurrection and the lies that led to it, as Mr. Thompson put it, “have put two and a half centuries of constitutional democracy at risk.” The danger will remain until Americans fully confront what happened on that day. The committee has given us that chance.

Recommended for you

(23) comments

Westy

The danger is indeed still with us. The same insurrectionists are setting up for a more successful attempt in 2024 by electing election deniers in 2022. Then they can attempt to change state laws to allow for states to disregard election results, as well as get traitors into posts as election officials. It is only because of a few who adhered to their oaths of office that we still have a democracy. It remains to be seen if we will still have one in 2024.

Tommy Tee

Spot on, Westy.. You can only imagine Trump crying fraud if he loses the primary to DeSantis.

The Republican Party has become a toxic waste dump of this Big Lie autocracy and denialism.

willallen

"...not an isolated event." Agree. Granted that the storming of the capitol was in a category of its own, but the ground was laid by the looting and rioting in major cities that came earlier. I'd say it goes back decades, starting with the City Hall riots in San Francisco in 1960, a first for television when the "whole world was made to watch." Since then we have lived with government by tantrum.

Dirk van Ulden

Craig - he shot an unarmed 5 foot woman who stepped through the broken glass of a door. He had no right to shoot her and he should be held for murder. If you shot an unarmed burglar in your home you would be held for homicide. That officer should be forced to resign and carted off to jail pending his trial. The official report of her killing is swept under the rug by the very so-called bipartisan committee. Do you even grasp why most Americans on both sides of the isle have already tuned out except for the rabid Trump haters?

craigwiesner

No, he shot her as she was trying to force her way through that broken glass after officers had been screaming, over and over again, for the mob to back off. She didn't back off even though her fellow rioters were yelling that the officer inside had a gun drawn. Read the story of what happened from the man who believed he had to do what he did to protect members of Congress. Babbitt did not stroll through an open door carrying potato salad for the tourist picnic. She was part of a screaming mob that had broken through barriers, attacked police officers with anything handy, and were out for blood. Officers were already down, having been pummeled and beaten, hit with pepper spray. Stop it. Stop defending the indefensible. Look at the video of what the mob was doing and be honest with yourself, if you or your children were on the other side of that door and you had NO WAY TO RETREAT, wouldn't you have fired? Come on. Seriously. Babbitt's family is suing so more details will come out if it gets to court and I am certain that the officer and the department will prevail. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/officer-who-shot-ashli-babbitt-during-capitol-riot-breaks-silence-n1277736

Terence Y

So Mr. Wiesner, an unarmed 5 foot woman causing problems for a bigger, gun-wielding man, with law enforcement training? Why didn’t any of the other officers there murder anyone else - perhaps because they’re not trigger happy and they’re not worried about a 5 foot unarmed woman? Now why didn’t the murderer, Lt. Michael Byrd create a police report or documents relating to the shooting of Babbitt? Why did the sham Jan 6 panel have to edit video footage in a lame attempt to portray a false narrative? Be honest with yourself, if you were a cop with training and a gun, you wouldn't need to shoot an unarmed 5 foot woman. Come on. Seriously? Stop it. Stop defending the indefensible. Stop trying to justify murder in the name of politics.

craigwiesner

A MOB of screaming rioters were bashing through that window. The video is clear. Officers inside the chamber had been alerted that other officers were already "down." As one woman officer reported, she was knocked out and when she eventually opened her eyes she was covered in blood and as she tried to stand up she slipped in other people's blood. The attack on Congress was horrible, violent, and chaotic. We now know that the Proud Boys had a detailed document on how they would occupy Congress and the Supreme Court. We know from one Proud Boy leader that they would have killed Mike Pence if they had gotten their hands on him. With all that going on I will not blame the officer for firing at someone coming through that broken window as dozens of other rioters continued to try to force their way in. Stop using the word murder. It was not. She and the mob were violently attacking Congress.

Tafhdyd

Terence,

Why didn’t any of the other officers there murder anyone else - perhaps because the rest of the mob realized that if they continued to break in they might be shot also. Perhaps her fellow rioters were just a little bit less gullible and didn't want to die for the orange conman that lost the election!! Stop defending the indefensible.

Terence Y

So Mr. Wiesner, it sounds like you’re okay with the murder of an UNARMED 5 foot woman and justifying it with a “heat of the moment” excuse? So I guess all those so-called “murders” that other cops are being blamed for should also be excused, because they happened in the heat of the moment? BTW, why didn’t Pelosi and DC Mayor Bowser, after being warned two weeks in advance that there may be possible violence on Jan. 6, turn down thousands of National Guard troops? Two weeks in advance. Hmmm, we know there were embedded law enforcement agents in the crowd, along with embedded Antifa-BLM folks and yet no National Guard thanks to Pelosi and Bowser. I wonder if any embedded folks assisted with this so-called “insurrection”? Now did your Jan. 6 panel discuss the lack of National Guard? Did your Jan. 6 panel discuss the purpose of embedded law enforcement officers? Embedded Antifa-BLM folks? Or did the sham panel only produce biased accounts? That last one is a rhetorical question.

Tommy Tee

The NYT and Mr. Wiesner are both correct. Anyone who believes differently is unwilling to accept facts. There is no "other side." Thank God Cheney and Kinzinger are true Americans.

Trump is a criminal for attempting to subvert the Democratic system.

He knew he lost, so he tried to intimidate Pence, et al. He should be indicted.

Sorry, Terence, your blah blah doesn't work any more.

Dirk van Ulden

TT - are you saying that the rest of us are not true Americans? Please define that annotation. We are all Americans and fortunately have differences of opinion. Both Cheney and Kinzinger are Americans but both have ulterior motives, just like the rest on that bunch of Trump hating committee. Have you noticed the hatred in their stares as they read from the teleprompters? That is not natural but staged. And if you believe Ms Cheney is a true American, please read the Angler by Barton Gellman. It will blow you away.

Tommy Tee

Dirk--yeah they are because they're not living The Big Lie. Staged? LOL Now you're sounding like Sean Hannity.

Dirk van Ulden

TT - I don't believe many real Americans condoned what happened on January 6. I also believe that those who were guilty should pay for their actions and that may include our former President. However, this show is very one-sided and just the presentations are giving me shivers. This is not the way we approach justice in the USA so that's why I am not paying much attention. Please note that we are dealing with significant issues at the pump, at the grocery store and with massive illegal immigration. The panel, which should have included more Republicans, should continue its purpose but the congress should be focusing on our current needs. If Pelosi wants to call this a trial, it can easily fade to background and let her cronies focus on what you and I really need. BTW, I never watch Hannity.

craigwiesner

Ulterior motives? Like patriotism and a belief in the oath they took? I believe in my heart that they're doing what they are doing for love of country. I do a whole lot of public speaking and I wear my emotions on my sleeve when I do so, whether I am reading from a script or something memorized or extemporaneously. I've watched Representatives Cheney and Kinzinger and yes, I find their emotions raw and visceral. They should be. What happened leading up to, during, and after January 6th should make us all furious and determined to make sure it doesn't happen again.

Terence Y

Well, if Tommy Tee says the NYT and Mr. Wiesner are correct, then they must be correct. NOT! Sorry Tommy, you and others being fooled by this Kangaroo Court only serve to make our great President Trump’s influence stronger and stronger. It’s not a surprise that the ratings for the sham panel are disastrous – and that’s even with a bunch of major networks airing the puppet show. Did reruns of Young Sheldon outperform the Stooges Panel known as the Jan 6 panel?

Terence Y

Sorry, NYT, you don’t have any political credibility and as such, we know you’re going to be biased in regards to the Unselect Committee. This smoke and mirrors show is only there because the Unselect Committee has no real evidence and they're hoping to fool Americans with a committee of puppets. We also know this Kangaroo Court is trying to distract from the disaster known as Biden. Meanwhile, as the Unselect Committee continues with their prejudicial one-sided “findings” our great President Trump’s influence is becoming stronger and stronger. BTW, you may want to remind Mr. Thompson that if there really were an insurrection, half a million patriots would have done much more damage.

craigwiesner

Watching the hearings, I've seen tons of evidence and have been especially moved by how much President Trump's and Vice President Pence's staff and other former White House staffers have shared in their depositions and as witnesses.

Today, Judge J. Michael Luttig, a Republican appointed by George HW Bush and a lion of the conservative right, who advised Mike Pence to refuse Trump's orders to toss out electoral votes or suspend Congress, warned the committee that Trump remains a danger because the former president has pledged to contest the next election for the White House in 2024 if Republicans don’t win.

“That’s not because of what happened on January 6th,” Luttig said. “It’s because to this very day the former president, his allies and supporters pledge that in the presidential election of 2024, if the former president or his anointed successor as the Republican Party presidential candidate, were to lose that election, that they would attempt to overturn that 2024 election in the same way that they attempted to overturn the 2020 election.”

He never dreamed he would be saying words like he said in today's hearing, but as a patriotic American who believes in the rule of law and fears that our democracy may perish, he felt he had to speak out. He's right.

Terence Y

Sorry Mr. Wiesner, but you’ve only seen “evidence” from the party who believed there was Russian collusion. One has to wonder why the Unselect Committee is afraid to allow opposition, cross-examination, or rebuttal evidence. One also has to wonder why the cop who murdered Ashli Babbitt isn’t being held accountable. Once again, thanks to this Unselect Committee puppet show, our great President Trump’s influence only grows stronger and stronger.

craigwiesner

I've carefully been watching the criminal trials faced by those who invaded Congress on January 6th. Everyone there has due process, attorneys, the ability to call witnesses, etc..... Eventually, if appropriate, there will be more trials against people who orchestrated the attempt to overthrow a legitimate election and there too we will have plenty of witnesses, cross-examination, etc..... Ashli Babbitt died trying to force her way into the House chambers. Her death is tragic. The person who shot her did so defending members of Congress from a violent mob.

Terence Y

Unfortunately Craig, your definition of due process is only due process for one party – the party holding the sham panel. BTW, I'll adopt an excuse akin to your rationale for the murder of Ashli Babbitt for shootings of other unarmed folks. For when you demonize the police for an unrighteous shooting. Don't worry, I'll give you credit for it.

craigwiesner

One more quick note... In these hearings I've seen Republican, after Republican, after Republican, after Republican, testifying about what happened leading up to, during, and after January 6th. The Democrats and two Republicans on the committee have brought the receipts, videos and live testimony, by Republicans, on what former President Trump, his minions, allies, and supporters did and said. If the committee did nothing more than play hours of video from day of the riot would you call that one sided? I had dinner last night with a life-long conservative Republican and I can assure you that former President Trump's influence is looooonnnnngggggg gone.

Terence Y

Nice try Mr. Wiesner. Perhaps you can explain why Pelosi would not seat Republican Reps. Jim Jordan and Jim Banks on the committee and instead Pelosi cherry-picked RINOs and TDS-infected Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger. Oh yes, not one-sided at all. Perhaps you can explain why you think our great President Trump’s influence is looooonnnnngggggg gone even though his recent endorsement record is 129 to 8. Oh yes, influence is looooonnnnngggggg gone. I guess if you’re counting milliseconds, it could be perceived as long. Let’s not forget recent polls show the majority of Americans believe this Kangaroo Court is biased. BTW, I had lunch with a life-long Democrat and I can assure you that former President Trump’s influence is only becoming strooooonnnnngggggger and storoooonnnnngggggger.

Westy

Terence Y, Jordan and Banks could not be part of the investigation because they were at minimum potentially to be called as witnesses and possibly even were active participants in the crime. It was a far-reaching attempt to overturn our government, involving congresspeople allegedly giving tours of the capital the day before so the rioters could map out their plan, pressure on the vice-president to abrogate his oath of office, pressure and threats on election officials in various states, false electors presenting themselves as real electors, and a weeks long campaign to assemble and gin up the mob.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.

Thank you for visiting the Daily Journal.

Please purchase an Enhanced Subscription to continue reading. To continue, please log in, or sign up for a new account.

We offer one free story view per month. If you register for an account, you will get two additional story views. After those three total views, we ask that you support us with a subscription.

A subscription to our digital content is so much more than just access to our valuable content. It means you’re helping to support a local community institution that has, from its very start, supported the betterment of our society. Thank you very much!