We’ve finally seen a real glimpse of Trump’s reaction to the insurgency

Plenty of other morally and legally damning evidence was presented against Donald Trump during Thursday night’s January 6 committee prime-time hearing. But none was more humiliating to Trump’s outsized ego than the exits since taping his Jan. 7 address to the nation as he came under heavy pressure to finally say the right things about the assault on the Capitol.

But even then, threatened by a potential Cabinet rebellion that could invoke the 25th Amendment to remove him from office, Trump could not fully engage. He rioted saying, “If you broke the law…” about the insurgents and demanded that the phrase “The election is over” be removed from his text. He was dragged along by his daughter Ivanka as he squinted, struggling to read the teleprompter. The Great and Powerful Trump pounded the podium in frustration when he said “challenged” instead of “defiled”. And he admitted, like a third-grader who struggles to read, “Yesterday is a difficult word for me.”

The hearing focused on Trump’s 187 minutes of willful inaction as the violent mob of his supporters swarmed the Capitol. But the two living witnesses, former deputy national security adviser Matthew Pottinger and Sarah Matthews, the former deputy White House press secretary, suffered from not being close enough to Trump on January 6 to tell nearly as much. gripping stories that Cassidy Hutchinson did late last month. . What still eluded the committee was a detailed account of exactly what Trump was saying and doing in the Oval Office dining room for nearly three hours as the Capitol suffered its worst assault since the War of 1812. In a sense, Trump was a modern-day Nero, avidly watching Fox News as American democracy burned.

Virginia Democrat Elaine Luria and retired Illinois Republican Adam Kinzinger led the hearing. The pairing was obviously deliberate since they are both veterans on the committee – Luria as a Navy commander and Kinzinger as an Air Force pilot in Afghanistan and Iraq. While Kinzinger was sometimes grandiose, Luria was a powerful advocate with her understated intensity. In a memorable closing statement, Luria said, “Donald Trump summoned a violent mob and promised to lead that mob to the Capitol…And when he was thwarted in his efforts to lead the armed uprising, he incited the attackers to target the vice president with violence. But Luria then added: “At the end of the day, this is not a story of inaction in times of crisis. But instead, it was the latest move in Donald Trump’s own plan to usurp the will of the American people and stay in power.

Over the past year, as she prepares for this pivotal moment, Luria has soaked up the literature and memoirs from the 1973 Watergate Senate Committee. What she has certainly learned is a lesson that governs now the January 6 Committee: The truth in any high profile investigation is gradually emerging with new witnesses offering new stories and adding confirmation to the existing narrative.

Thursday evening’s hearing was originally supposed to be the last public installment before the committee released its final report in September. But that timeline has been extended following a torrent of new information. As Rep. Liz Cheney, vice chair of the committee, said in her opening statement, “Doors opened, new subpoenas were issued, and the dam began to break.” The hearings will therefore resume in September with undoubtedly more surprise witnesses. Who knows, maybe we can see Steve Bannon or Supreme Court wife and Holocaust denier Ginni Thomas – or most important of all, former chief of staff Mark Meadows, one of the few people who might. better fill in those missing 187 minutes.

Some of the most memorable moments from the hearing centered around substantiated stories we had heard before. The committee offered chilling footage of Mike Pence’s party, trapped in his Capitol office, as the deadly crowd closed in. Members of the vice-president’s secret service even called relatives to say goodbye. The footage provided a dramatic illustration of how close the threat was to Pence as Trump tweeted further attacks on his vice president.

In earlier testimony, Hutchinson offered key evidence about Trump’s tantrum in his limo when the Secret Service refused to drive him to the Capitol to cheer on the armed crowd. Then, press leaks within the Secret Service challenged Hutchinson’s account. But the committee showed with videotaped testimony that Hutchinson’s story was confirmed by an unnamed White House security official and retired District of Columbia Police Sergeant Mark Robinson. Both said they heard the motorcade was delayed by virtually unprecedented commotion in the president’s limo.

The committee couldn’t help but shoot some of Trump’s worst congressional enablers. A telling moment – ​​which in itself could be enough to derail a future presidential campaign – saw Missouri Senator Josh Hawley shaking his fist in support of the insurgents as they arrived at the Capitol. Luria spoke of a Capitol Police officer who was angry that Hawley was pushing the crowd from “a safe space, protected by officers and barriers.” Just to drive home the point, Luria then showed a video of Hawley later fleeing the Senate chamber with her frightened colleagues.

Luria is the lone Democrat on the committee in a tough re-election fight in her southeastern Virginia district. About an hour before the start of Thursday night’s hearing, Luria’s GOP opponent, State Senator Jen Kiggans, tweeted, “Who is watching JAN 6 Committee featuring Elaine Luria Asking Questions on primetime TV tonight? Democrats are spending millions on this while Americans are paying record high prices for gas and groceries and suffering 9.1% inflation!”

The hearing, which aired live on every major network other than (surprise) Fox News, was another installment in a television series that is becoming increasingly difficult for Republicans such as Kiggans to wish for. Trump may not be able to pronounce the word “yesterday” easily. But yesterday Jan. 6 continues to haunt Trump as the most powerful congressional investigation in more than three decades shows no signs of abating.

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