“What is going on with the January 6 committee?” I’ve been impatiently wondering about that for months. Why is the House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack on the U.S. Capitol moving slow as molasses? When will the Committee hold public hearings? Is the Committee risking not finishing its work before the end of 2022?
More simply put, because almost 14 months have passed since Trump lost the 2020 election and more than a year since his followers marched to the Capitol with orders to prevent the certification of Biden’s win, I am worried that Trump once again will not be held accountable. Last Thursday, Congressman Jamie Raskin (D-MD), a member of the Select Committee, offered a dramatic answer to my questions on a Zoom call before the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. Raskin thinks Trump’s luck is about to run out.
As most Marylanders know, Raskin is a constitutional lawyer representing the 8th Congressional District, the D.C. suburbs. Raskin told the Zoom-call participants that the upcoming hearings will be a “game changer for American history.”
Said Raskin: “We are going to do everything we can to subpoena all the information we need and to enforce our subpoenas. But even if we don’t get every last person in there, we are going to have hearings that I believe will be compared to the Watergate hearings, because they are going to blow the roof off the House in terms of explaining to America what actually happened in the attack on our democracy.”
Those of us who were around for the 1973 Watergate hearings recall that the hearings led to Richard Nixon’s resignation. After hearing evidence of Nixon’s involvement with the Watergate break-in and other efforts to undermine the Democratic party, a critical mass of Hill Republicans urged Nixon to resign.
It’s unclear whether today’s Congressional Republicans will respond to hard evidence of sedition and other Trump crimes. (Don’t hold your breath for our own Andy Harris to break ranks with Trump. If Trump were to shoot someone on Washington Street in Easton, I would expect “Handgun” Harris to find a way to blame the Democrats.)
Jamie Raskin, like many of us, has had it with Trump. We are sick of hearing “the Big Lie,” and abhor Trumpism. His examination of the evidence of Trump’s activities led him to offer this assessment of the former president: “The guy’s a walking crime wave, and he has committed crimes all over the country, including sexual harassment and assault on a lot of people. There’s bank fraud and there’s real estate fraud and there’s tax fraud. And there are prosecutors all over the country, looking at all that stuff. I don’t want us to fetishize Donald Trump that much — he will meet you know, his maker, one place or another, there will be accountability and a reckoning with the law.”
A video of the discussion is on Facebook.
Raskin did not specify what he expects the January 6 Committee will find. It is premature to make specific predictions on what the committee’s hearings will disclose. With that caveat, here are a few guesses based on what I’ve been reading:
Details documenting President Trump’s direct involvement in the planning, funding, and execution of the January 6 insurrection.
Proof of direct involvement of several members of Congress in facilitating the January 6 attack. (I don’t expect Dr. Harris to be among the group.)
Documentation that the organizers of the attack, including White House officials, saw the attack as an attempted coup. Evidence is likely to include multiple email communications and proof that the organizers stockpiled weapons to use for even more violence had the January 6 effort been successful.
Proof that several Fox News personalities had advanced knowledge of the January 6 attack and discussed it with Trump and key White House and Trump advisors.
Full documentation of who paid the insurrectionists’ expenses.
Documentation on what Trump planned to do to solidify his hold on presidential power had the coup been successful.
The seriousness of the attempted coup is becoming apparent. Did the insurrectionists plan the arrest and possible execution of their adversaries? No evidence of that has surfaced to date, but Congressman Raskin seems to suggest that once the full findings of the committee are released, we will also see Trump and the fragility of democracy in a new light.
If Jamie Raskin is correct in saying that the January 6 committee public hearings will be “must see” TV, the hearings could be a turning point in the effort to hold Trump and his co-conspirators accountable. The Watergate Hearings, including ones featuring another lawyer named John Dean, captured the public’s attention. As Nixon’s guilt and lying became obvious, his public support evaporated. Congressional Republicans abandoned him, with some urging him to resign.
Today’s Congressional Republicans, with few exceptions, have proven less principled, more cowardly, and less patriotic than their predecessors. It remains to be seen whether the revelations that Raskin predicts will come to light will prompt a change in Republican attitudes.
Full disclosure: Although I went to the same law school as John W. Dean, III, received phone calls intended for him from numerous reporters in 1973, I am no relation to “the other John Dean” but still recommend Dean’s Worse Than Watergate, which is about the George W. Bush administration, not Trump’s.
J.E. Dean is a retired attorney and public affairs consultant writing on politics, government, birds, and other subjects.