In explosive testimony before the House Select Committee investigating the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6th 2021, top officials from Trump’s inner circle made it clear that Trump knew he was lying about voter fraud in the 2020 election, or, was ‘disconnected from reality.’
In the first two hearings, the committee demonstrated beyond any doubt that former President Trump had been repeatedly informed by senior officials within his own campaign, the White House, and at the Department of Justice that his claims of election fraud were false.
As Republican officials tried anything they could think of to undermine the committee’s legitimacy, powerful testimony from Capitol Police officers and senior officials from Trump’s inner circle revealed with damning clarity the lengths Mr. Trump was willing to go to remain in power.
Illegal and Unconstitutional
Calling Mr. Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election “illegal” and “unconstitutional,” the committee’s vice-chair, Liz Cheney, walked viewers through a 2 hour presentation Thursday that featured witness testimony from former Attorney General William Barr, Ivanka Trump, and Jared Kushner among others, as well as previously unaired footage of the violence at the Capitol.
In perhaps the starkest terms of the night, Mr. Barr told investigators that he made clear to the President that the election had not been stolen, and that he considered arguments otherwise to be “bullshit.”
And, potentially even more damaging to Republicans, the committee made clear it has evidence of congressional Republicans seeking presidential pardons in the days following January 6th, indicating that Republican members of congress who worked to overturn election results not only knew they were in the wrong, but that their actions may have been illegal. According to the Washington Post:
“If the committee backs up its assertions […] it would reinforce a conclusion that those involved in the effort to overturn the election knew that what they were up to might be illegal, and that those around the president knew his actions were as dangerous and anti-democratic as they appeared.”
Mike Pence “deserves it”
Meanwhile, in testimony that was all the more powerful thanks to its sad irony, Vice-Chair Cheney, daughter of former VP Dick Cheney, laid out just how willing Mr. Trump seems to have been to sacrifice his own VP, Mike Pence, to the angry mob at the Capitol. Cheney said, in preparing viewers for what was to come:
“”You will hear that President Trump was yelling and, quote, ‘really angry’ at advisers who told him he needed to be doing something more” to quell the riot, Cheney told the hearing. “And, aware of the rioters’ chants to ‘hang Mike Pence,’ the president responded with this sentiment: quote, ‘Maybe our supporters have the right idea,’ Mike Pence, quote, ‘deserves it.'”
And in a short clip of her testimony to the panel, Ivanka Trump made headlines Thursday agreeing that there was not evidence of her father’s claims of widespread voter fraud, and that she “accepted what [Attorney General Barr] was saying.”
Trump fired back in a statement Friday on his own Truth Social, saying Ivanka had “long since checked out.”
“”Ivanka Trump was not involved in looking at, or studying, Election results. She had long since checked out and was, in my opinion, only trying to be respectful to Bill Barr and his position as Attorney General (he sucked!),”
New footage of the Violence
But by far the most affecting aspect of Thursday’s hearings was the new footage of the carnage which unfolded at our nation’s Capitol. Culled from a documentary by January 6th key witness Nick Quested, the footage shows in stark clarity the madness and desperation of the day, as members of the far right groups Proud Boys and Oath Keepers smashed windows, attacked Capitol Police officers, and ultimately breached the seat of American government.
As described by NPR: video footage “effectively cut between Trump’s speech on Jan. 6 to show how it was egging the crowd on. Its use of stable overhead cameras showing the mass of the crowd overwhelming law enforcement, as well as the use of law enforcement body camera footage and radio conversations, were strong. It showed the rioters were operating outside the law — and against police, a group Trump often holds up with reverence.”
Trump has lost touch
As the testimony of senior officials continues, it becomes clearer and clearer that Trump has either known since election night that he lost and has been lying about it all this time, or, as former Attorney General Barr put it, he is ‘disconnected from reality.’
“I thought, ‘Boy, if he really believes this thing, he’s, you know, lost touch – he’s disconnected from reality if he really believes it,’” Mr. Barr told the committee.
This sentence played today from Barr’s testimony, pretty much sums up what we’ve all been thinking for a long time. To hear it so succinctly stated by one of President Trump’s most senior administration officials could well be the one sentence summary of the Select Committee’s investigation. Ultimately, either option is terrible.