GOP Testimony at January 6 Panel Exposes Party Torn Between Truth and Trump

As the House committee investigating the January 6, 2021 Capitol attack put forward the case publicly that Donald Trump was at the center of the coup attempt, the commission has relied heavily on a seemingly unlikely flood of witnesses: Mr. Trump. Trump’s own advisers, his fellow Republicans, and even his own family.

Those closest to Trump have been ousted, portrayed or shown dismissing the former president’s false claims that the 2020 election was stolen. And yet the struggle to disrupt the will of the people did not weaken.

Powerful testimony from the Republican parade at four carefully crafted hearings revealed in searing and consistent detail how divided the party is between the faction that accepts the reality of the 2020 election and the many others that still cling to Mr. Trump. anti-democratic lies about stolen elections.

“If any Republicans were watching this, then they really wouldn’t have had the opportunity to defend the position that President Trump won the election based on the evidence presented so far,” Mick Mulvaney, the former acting head of the administration of the White House.

There were short video clips of the former president’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, and merciless testimony from senior White House attorney Eric Herschmann, who said he scolded another pro-Trump attorney as “out of his mind” for continuing to engage in conspiracies to target stop President Biden’s inauguration even the day after the Capitol riot.

“We have a lot of theories,” Rudolph W. Giuliani, one of Trump’s top lawyers, told a group of state lawmakers seeking to prevent the outcome, according to Tuesday’s testimony of Rusty Bowers, the GOP speaker. Arizona House of Representatives. We just don’t have proof.

Former Presidential Attorney General William P. Barr had one word for the whirlwind, non-factual fraud theories Mr. Trump has embraced since the election: “bullshit.”

“I told him it was, it was bullshit,” Mr. Barr said in his video recitation of the voting machine fraud allegations, “and they are wasting their time on this and it is doing a serious, serious disservice to the country.” “.

But Mr. Mulvaney said the partisan nature of the Democratic-led proceedings — the Republican leadership boycotted the commission after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi fired some of their appointees — means fewer Republicans are likely to tune in.

Democrats have full control of the investigative committee, although it includes two anti-Trump Republicans, including Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, vice chair.

“The fact that there are Republican witnesses is very convincing,” Mr. Mulvaney said. “I don’t think Bill Barr is lying. I also know that I don’t see all of his testimony. I will see pieces of his testimony that the Democrats want me to see.”

On Tuesday, Mr. Bowers and two Republican Georgia officials testified under oath describing in harrowing terms the pressure campaign they endured for standing up to the president and the losses it inflicted on them personally. More testimony came in from senior Trump Justice Department officials on Thursday.

“The committee did a brilliant job with this tactic of using high-ranking officials, family members, high-profile campaigners and Republicans who supported him,” said Stephanie Grisham, a former White House press secretary who has worked under Trump almost her entire life. entire term, but has since become a critic. “That’s what gives me hope that he will break through.”

A new poll from Quinnipiac University on Wednesday suggested that such a breakthrough with more Republicans may still be ahead.

While nearly six in 10 Americans overall believe Mr. Trump was more or less responsible for the events of January 6, the poll found that only among Republicans, the opposite was true: 25 percent said he was “slightly” responsible. and 44 percent said he didn’t wear it at all.

“I really hope that the sane wing of the Republican Party takes over again — the chances of that are extremely slim,” said Sarah Longwell, founder of the Anti-Trump Republican Accountability Project.

However, in two focus groups of Trump voters in 2020 that Ms. Longwell has conducted since the hearing began, she said she noticed an unusual shift: none of the participants wanted Trump to run in 2024.

“What I was wondering is they liked Trump but want to move on,” Ms Longwell said. “That’s how they talked about January 6th in general.”

Ms. Cheney, Mr. Trump’s most prominent Republican congressional critic, has explicitly stated her goal of trying to drive a wedge between Mr. Trump and the party’s base, if not between him and the party’s elected leaders in Washington.

“I tell my Republican colleagues who defend the unjustifiable: the day will come when Donald Trump will be gone, but your dishonor will remain,” Ms. Cheney said at the first hearing on June 9.

Ms. Cheney, who faces a major Trump-backed challenger this summer, is positioning herself as a potential presidential candidate against Trump if he runs. She is scheduled to give a speech next week about the party’s future at the Reagan Library in California, the same venue that has seen a number of ambitious potential Republican candidates emerge in recent months in 2024.

Several Republican strategists have predicted that the January 6 committee hearing will have less of an impact on the 2022 midterm elections, when Trump himself will not vote, than on the 2024 Republican presidential field.

Few on Capitol Hill have been as direct about the threat posed by Trump as J. Michael Luttig, a former federal appeals court judge who is hardly a household name but holds great authority in the conservative legal world.

“Donald Trump and his allies and supporters are a clear and present danger to American democracy,” Mr. Luttig said in a speech last week.

Then Mr. Luttig took the same far-sighted move for the next presidential election that many Democrats hope voters will take when they vote in the midterm elections this fall: they tried to cancel the 2020 election,” he warned.

At times, the committee’s indictment has been so focused on Trump and so full of praise for the few Republicans who opposed him that some Democrats privately fear the strategy could backfire by separating Trump from the Republican Party. which, in fact, remains deeply devoted to him.

“It’s just infuriating,” said Jessica Post, executive director of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, which races for state seats. “There is a much broader story than the one the committee tells on January 6 about anti-democratic forces in the states.”

She was especially frustrated by the praise of Mr. Bowers for simply keeping the law, noting that Arizona had passed more restrictive voting bills under his supervision. “I just don’t think you get a gold star for doing absolutely less,” Ms. Post said.

Sitting next to Mr. Bowers Tuesday was GOP Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who earned the committee’s approval as a “public servant.” On the same day, Georgia Democrats nominated Rep. Bi Nguyen to run against him, and on Wednesday, Ms. Nguyen criticized Mr. Raffensperger’s past support for tighter voting restrictions.

Divisions within the Republican Party are easy to exaggerate: some of those whose words were used as a cudgel against Trump still say they would vote for him in 2024 if he were the candidate, including Mr. Barr and Mr. Bowers, who told The Associated Press this week: “If he was against Biden, I would vote for him again.”

Another Republican whose courage was praised by the committee is former Vice President Mike Pence, who resisted Mr. Trump’s intense pressure to cancel the election.

Greg Jacob, Mr. Pence’s lawyer, testified that one of Mr. Trump’s advisers, John Eastman, asked Mr. Pence not to confirm the results of the Electoral College even in the immediate aftermath of the Capitol riot.

“It’s a rubber room,” Mr. Pence told him, Mr. Jacob recalled. In other words, Mr. Jacob said, “clearly crazy.”

Thursday’s committee hearing will focus on “Mr. Trump’s attempt to bribe the country’s top law enforcement agency, the Justice Department, to support his bid to cancel the election,” Representative Benny Thompson of Mississippi, chairman of the Democratic Party committee, prefaced. .

Three senior Trump administration alumni lined up as star witnesses: Jeffrey A. Rosen, former acting attorney general; Richard Donoghue, former Acting Deputy Attorney General; and Steven Engel, former Assistant Attorney General of the Office of Legal Counsel.

The deputy leading the interrogation will be another Republican: Adam Kinzinger of Illinois.

%d bloggers like this: