The Jan. 6 select committee reached several conclusions during its protracted hearings: With full knowledge he lost the election, former President Donald Trump allegedly acted illegally. He lied to the American public. He tried to use the courts to nullify the election he knew he had lost. When none of that worked, he allegedly incited violence in a vain attempt to keep power. Even after all that failed, he persisted in pushing the Big Lie.
The Jan. 6 committee solicited testimony from the president’s closest advisers. Many of them appeared and told the truth to the committee. Their testimony condemned Trump’s actions with certainty, with clarity and with sorrow. They wanted Trump to be reelected, but they knew the truth. Trump lost. They told him he lost. He heard their words and ignored them. The former president allegedly tried to coerce state election officials to lie for him. He schemed with his lawyers to have state officials submit false documents, saying he had won states which he knew he did not.
The committee summoned congressional supporters of the Big Lie to testify. They refused. Some of Trump’s lawyers and advisers chose to withhold the truth. Rather than to perjure themselves, they pleaded the fifth. They used protections built into the Constitution the former president wants to trash.
Trump sued in state and federal courts to nullify election results. Sixty-one cases were filed on his behalf. Sixty-one verdicts came back, every one confirming that Trump had no evidence to support his claims, that there was no truth in his allegations. His advisers told him it was time for him to concede the election. Trump did not. Instead, he tried to pressure the vice president to subvert the results. He tried to use the Department of Justice to assist him. When the people he’d appointed refused to go along, Trump thought to mimic the notorious Saturday Night Massacre and appoint an attorney general to lie for him. All the while that was going on, he allegedly plotted to use force on Jan. 6 to achieve what he could not do legitimately.
The committee solicited testimony from the armed rioters who desecrated the U.S. Capitol and threatened the lives of members of Congress. Those rioters said under oath they came to Washington because Trump wanted them to. They came prepared to unleash violence because they heard him tell them to “be there, be wild” and “fight like hell” for him. They brought weapons to the capitol. They injured Capitol Police officers who stood their ground to protect members of Congress.
The police protected all of them, the ones who stood for the law and those who had egged on the rioters. Many of the insurrectionists found guilty expressed remorse for the acts they committed at Trump’s request. They realized too late they had damaged the country they said they loved. They realized that Trump had used and betrayed them, too.
The evidence is overwhelming. The former president used the power of his office to try to steal from the American people, no, not money, but their voices. The committee found “more than sufficient evidence” that Trump broke the law. It unanimously voted to refer criminal charges to the Department of Justice, which now must decide how best to deal with the charges.
The charges are: Trump obstructed an official proceeding of Congress; he assisted or aided or comforted an insurrection; he conspired to defraud the United States; he conspired to make false statements.
The committee also filed charges of ethics violations against four congressmen who refused to cooperate. Finally, the committee will issue recommendations to safeguard Congress and the American people against another such insult to our nation’s laws and proud traditions.
The Department of Justice will now decide how best to respond to these charges. The Constitution that Trump wants to nullify grants him his day in court to defend himself against these allegations. Trump will need to follow Eric Herschmann’s advice to Chief of Staff Mark Meadows — “get ready to pay a criminal defense attorney a lot of money” because the Jan. 6 select committee did its job to defend the Constitution against all enemies, especially the domestic ones.
Mitch Edelman writes from Finksburg. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org