Trump's direct involvement in a coup plotting session and other big takeaways from the first Jan. 6 hearing
If Thursday was any indication, Bennie Thompson and Liz Cheney have the goods.
As someone who metabolizes political news for a living and spent years covering Donald Trump, I was broadly familiar with much of the material presented by the January 6 committee during its first primetime hearing Thursday. But even so, I found Reps. Bennie Thompson and Liz Cheney’s presentation to be compelling, and in some instances eyeopening.
For example, the committee put together a video showing how a tweet Trump posted attacking Mike Pence as the Capitol was being ransacked — the one in which he lamented that Pence “didn’t have the courage” to help him overthrow his election loss — was read through a bullhorn by an insurrectionist standing outside the Capitol, and quickly prompted Trump fans to break out in “hang Mike Pence!” chants. The sequence illustrated how the mob was hanging on Trump’s every word, and how Trump exploited that to incite them.
Another clip played moments later juxtaposed Trump fans stomping cops on January 6 with Trump’s subsequent description of the insurrectionists as “peaceful people.”
There was video I hadn’t seen before of an officer who testified before the committee — Caroline Edwards — getting knocked unconscious, and a short clip of Officer Brian Sicknick in obvious distress. (Sicknick died a day later from a stroke, and the Tucker Carlsons of the world have exploited the gap between his assault and his death to claim Sicknick didn’t actually die as a result of the January 6 attack). For full blow-by-blow highlights of the hearing, be sure to check out my comprehensive Twitter video thread beginning here.
In our deeply polarized society, it’s unclear how much any of this stuff will break through to people who don’t already regard Trump and his presidency as an abomination. But that’s a topic for another time. For now, I want to tick through a few more revelations from the first January 6 committee hearing that I thought were new and/or notable.
Even Ivanka acknowledged her dad’s big lie was just that
Among new tidbits were clips the January 6 committee played of interviews it conduced with number of former Trump officials, including Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner. Notably, Ivanka told the committee that she “accepted” former Attorney General Bill Barr’s conclusion that the election result wasn’t tainted by fraud.
In other words, even Trump’s own daughter (if she can be believed) wasn’t buying the big lie.
While Ivanka came across as relatively reasonable in that brief video, her husband was quite the opposite in the clip of his interview featured during the hearing. In it, Kushner dissed Trump White House officials who expressed concern or threatened to resign over Trump’s effort to overthrow the election as “whining.”
Kushner told the committee he was too busy dealing with pardons to worry about Trump’s efforts to effectively end democracy. On a related note, Cheney teased that the committee has evidence of Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA) and “multiple other Republican congressman” seeking pardons from the Trump White House “for their roles in attempting to overturn the 2020 election” — a revelation indicating those elected officials knew what they tried to do was not only wrong but possibly illegal.
Unsurprisingly, instead of responding to that, the House Judiciary GOP account posted a string of tweets harping on high gas prices and dismissed the January 6 committee’s findings as old news.
In reality, of course, we haven’t even had a round of congressional elections since a majority of House Republicans worked with the White House in an attempt to install a defeated president in power.
Using the words of Trump officials against Trump
Whenever possible, the committee used the words of former Trump officials to make their case for them. For instance, Thompson played a clip of Barr’s interview with the committee during which he dismissed Trump’s claims of election fraud as “bullshit.”