Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday July 23, 2022
The Jan. 6 Panel After 8 Hearings: Where Will the Evidence Lead?
Comprehensive, compellingly scripted and packed with details, the eight hearings of the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack have laid out a powerful account of President Donald J. Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
The select committee assembled a mass of evidence and testimony — provided in large part by Mr. Trump’s aides and other Republicans — not only for the judgment of history but for the purpose of two more immediate and related goals that the panel’s leaders highlighted during the hearing on Thursday night.
One, as Representative Liz Cheney, the Wyoming Republican who is the panel’s vice chair, said explicitly, is to convince voters that Mr. Trump, who has made clear he is likely to run for president in 2024, should be disqualified from holding the office again.
“Every American must consider this,” Ms. Cheney said. “Can a president who is willing to make the choices Donald Trump made during the violence of Jan. 6 ever be trusted with any position of authority in our great nation again?”
The other goal, as the committee has been signaling for months, is to pressure the Justice Department to pursue a more urgent and aggressive investigation into whether Mr. Trump could be prosecuted for his actions.
The extent to which the committee’s work imposes a political cost on Mr. Trump by changing views of him among persuadable voters might not be fully clear until the next campaign gets underway. And the committee has yet to decide whether to make a criminal referral to the Justice Department, a step that would be entirely symbolic and would not bind federal prosecutors to the case against Mr. Trump, as it has been laid out in the hearings.
But at a minimum, the committee’s hearings have created a backdrop to the early maneuvering around the 2024 campaign that presents challenges for Mr. Trump among independents and Republicans who might want a new face and a more forward-looking candidate. Indeed, the panel’s use of military leaders, top Trump aides and loyal Republicans to narrate its case has arguably been intended to speak to those potential voters.
The hearings have also generated open and growing pressure on Attorney General Merrick B. Garland, who responded this week by saying that “no person” is above the law.
The committee now plans to continue its investigation through the summer and hold more public hearings in September. It has produced a wealth of documentary evidence of the extent of Mr. Trump’s efforts to hold onto power and has shown signs of breaking through to the audiences it most wants to reach.
Here is a summary of its work so far (Continued: NYT)