Anyone remotely interested in US politics, government, governance, etc. should be following–watching if possible–the broadcasts of the House Select Committee Investigation into the January 6, 2021 insurrection. (If you’re not, and you’re actually a US citizen, boo-hissy at you, because it is that important. The rest of you, not citizens here, have no responsibility to know any more about our stuff than you want to.)
Sessions 1 and 2 covered a lot of background information, some I knew and some I didn’t. (There was, for instance, an extended comment on the standards by which people generally judge a “close” vote–how close it close, when is it worth the effort to recount, etc. I didn’t know there was any kind of generally recognized range of “Always ask for recount/ Maybe/ Forget it; you lost” accepted by campaign managers of both parties. A few hundred votes…go for it. Over a thousand, under 2000, maybe. Over that, forget it, your guy lost.) Lots of people told Trump and any remaining enthusiasts in his camp that his loss was irrecoverable, there was no sign of fraud, he needed to stop making things up, etc. White House legal staff, campaign manager and others…he would not budge. A few stayed on his page because they knew he was stubborn as a stubbed toe and wouldn’t quit complaining, and that his base would believe him. Stuff he tried (the lawsuits to change the election results, the maneuvering with this politician and that. More about people who claimed to have tried to dissuade him, convince him it was time to give up, time to admit he lost, time to work on the ‘orderly transition’ that every other president in the history of the country had made. The ones who quit between the 2020 election and January 6, the ones who didn’t. The angry ones, the sad ones, the casual ones, the mean ones.
Tucked into these were reminders that Trump had started, way back, complaining about election fraud even when he won the electoral college in 2016–he should’ve won by much more, won the popular vote by a huge landslide. These complaints continued into the campaign for the 2020 election, with him and his backers (inspired by a constant stream of his publicity) convinced that there was a massive effort by Democrats to “steal the vote” by mailing “millions” of ballots to “everyone.” He was, of course, preparing for the chance he might lose, preparing a *reason* to refuse to make an orderly transition, including the use of violence. He urged states to make it tougher to register to vote, to make it harder to actually vote, to stop having mail-in voting, even stop allowing any absentee voting. Republican-run states eagerly complied (and have passed more such laws since, with the clear intent of disenfranchising the growing fraction of people of color, which the GOP-packed SCOTUS has enabled by weakening the federal legislation that protected, to some extent, Black and Brown citizens’ right to vote.) The witnesses testifying at these sessions were mostly (and, after the first, entirely) Republicans with direct knowledge of what they were there to show & tell.
Session 3, yesterday, focused on the things Trump did to enable, arouse, and back the violent events of January 6, during 2020 both before and after the election. His continuous claim that the election would be fraudulent unless he won–that he knew he would have the majority–a vast, overwhelming majority–if it wasn’t “rigged” in some way–was of course not the truth, but truth has never been a touchstone for Trump, his family, his followers. And he knew repeating the lie often enough would work to convince many that it must be true. I still think the story’s very incomplete, because nobody’s mentioned (yet) some bits that I think are critically important–but Session 3 was packed with other critically important information. The lengths Trump went to, to pressure Pence into doing what Trump wanted. The way what Trump said created the mortal danger for Pence and other members of Congress, with clips from the insurrection of the announcement by riot leaders that Trump said Pence was “a traitor” and where that fell in the timeline of the assault.
The previous sessions had included more witnesses. Session3 had only two: Greg Jacobs, the legal counsel for Vice President Pence at least for the last part of his vice-presidency, and the person who argued directly with Eastman, the attorney who proposed that that Pence could legally stop the certification of electoral votes and declare Trump the winner, and the former 4th circuit federal judge, J. Michael Luttig, retired from the bench but considered a national legal eminence, whose opinion directly contradicted Eastman (Eastman didn’t participate in this session; he took the Fifth 100 times during his subpoenaed appearance before the committee earlier.) Jacobs was with Pence in the Capitol on January 6, and evacuated with him from Pence’s office to a safe room below the Capitol, and with him when Pence refused to get in the car that would have taken him away from the Capitol.
So I strongly recommend, if you missed seeing these sessions–one or all–that you hunt them up online, where you can see complete episodes. I watch via the Meidas Touch portal, but there are others (some, typical news programs, show only fragments–better than nothing.)