As the January 6 hearing approached, I felt a sickening fear that all they would do was demonstrate Donald Trump’s impunity. That the former president was trying to stage a coup has been obvious since his crowd gathered on the Capitol, if not before. However, in Trump’s case, the question has never been whether he committed outrageous misdeeds, but whether those misdeeds can matter. Again and again the answer to this question was no.
Maybe not yet. But the hearings are having more impact than I expected. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s decision to keep Trump supporters out of the committee on Jan. 6 eliminated the chatter that usually gets in the way of congressional investigations and allowed investigators to present their findings with narrative coherence. good crime series. Trump, who understands television, seems to understand how bad hearings are for him; This was reported by the Washington Post. that he is watching all of them and is angry at McCarthy for not putting anyone on the platform to protect him.
There are signs that public opinion is changing, at least a little. Recent ABC News/Ipsos Poll found that 58 percent of Americans believe Trump should be prosecuted for his role in the January 6 riots, compared with 52 percent at the end of April. Sixty percent consider the committee’s investigation to be “fair and impartial.” Sarah Longwell, an anti-Trump Republican strategist, has been holding focus groups for Trump voters since Jan. 6. In her last two contestants, neither contestant wanted Trump to run again, which had not happened before.
Longwell emphasizes that these people do not follow the hearings, considering them biased. But some news from them still reaches us. The Republicans in her focus groups aren’t mad at Trump, but they seem to be tired of him. “It’s likely that part of what the Jan. 6 hearing is doing is just creating another reminder that Trump has a lot to defend, to deal with,” Longwell said.
For some, hearings do more than that. Dustin Stockton helped organize a pro-Trump bus tour that culminated in a January 6 rally on the Ellipse in front of the White House. Politico once called he and his fiancée Jennifer Lawrence, “Bonnie and Clyde from the world of MAGA”. On Tuesday, following a hearing that included testimony from Rusty Bowers, Speaker of the Arizona House, and Georgia Election Commissioners Ruby Freeman and Shay Moss, Stockton tweeted“It was the committee’s most impressive hearing on January 6th. Confused about being fooled by Fulton County’s “ballot suitcases” scam.
He was referring to the conspiracy theory promoted by Trump and his allies that election officials smuggled fake ballots into Atlanta’s State Farm Arena and passed them through voting machines several times. On Tuesday, he said, he realized for the first time that the story was a complete fabrication.
It wasn’t a complete reversal; as Hunter Walker reported in Rolling Stone, Stockton and Lawrence are already disillusioned with Trump. They say they were shocked by the attack on the Capitol and accused Trump of supporting what Stockton called “the worst agents of chaos” in their environment. Realizing that they could not afford to fight subpoenas, they cooperated with the January 6 committee.
However, Stockton was publicly skeptical congressional investigation, and he remains hater Joe Biden and fan right trolling. However, Tuesday’s hearing hurt him, especially Freeman and Moss’ testimony about how their lives were turned upside down by the lies Stockton helped spread.
“To see the absolute turmoil that this caused in her life, and especially the impact of this accusation on a person, was incredibly unpleasant,” Stockton said of Freeman.
Very few on the right are, of course, following these hearings in Stockton as closely, but he said he was hearing from some people who were following them. “I think the loudest voices are doing their best to distract and not focus on all of this,” he said. “There are a lot of conservatives who DM me who don’t have big voices but pay attention to some degree.” Some of them, he said, are deeply disappointed by what they hear.
Perhaps this makes sense. Elite conservatives generally understood that Trump’s stories of stolen elections were absurd; as one high-ranking Republican official asked Washington Post: “What’s the downside of poking fun at him for that short amount of time?” But his rank and file followers were not fully involved in the scam. Instead, they were labels.
“If there are sections of the population that are completely captured by Trump’s propaganda and cannot be embraced by facts and truth, that section of the population will begin to decline over time,” said Jamie Ruskin of Maryland, Jan. 6 member. Committee and an incorrigible optimist. “Of course it won’t grow.”
There will be no important moment when the veil falls from the eyes of the Republicans. Too many already see Trump clearly and simply prefer autocrats over democrats. Even Bowers, who at one hearing revealed that Trump’s henchmen had terrorized his family while his daughter was dying, said he would vote for Trump again if he became the candidate. But as the January 6 committee methodically lays out what, for all its squalor and absurdity, was a systematic plan to undermine the 2020 election, it will become a little harder for Trump to present himself as the cheated winner rather than the unfortunate loser that he is. . .
This, in turn, could make the prosecution of Trump and his collaborators a little less politically fraught. Finding out the truth does not guarantee justice. At the very least, this is a step towards making justice possible.