On Thursday, the prime-time finale of the gripping and professionally produced television series known as the House January 6 hearings provided a horror show of presidential dereliction of duty and a cliffhanger promise to return in September with much more incriminating evidence against Donald Trump.
The select committee confronted concerns vital to its credibility and chances of becoming one of the few investigative procedures to ever hold Trump accountable at the start of this summer’s sessions.
Was it able to offer anything new to the already well-known narrative of January 6, 2021 – a day in US history when Americans witnessed a coup attempt in real time?
Could it infiltrate Trump’s West Wing and foil the former President’s and House Republicans’ attempts to cover up their assault on America’s heritage of free elections and peaceful transitions of power?
Can it be proven that Trump knowingly engineered the events following the 2020 election and the accompanying violence at the US Capitol?
Could the committee further change public opinion against a lawless and dictatorial ex-President who remains a menace to democracy, with Trump eager to begin a fresh campaign that would put US institutions to the test like never before?
The committee has provided detailed answers to at least three of those concerns and has made headway on the other two.
It has also woven a larger narrative of an out-of-control President who prioritized his own delusional notion that he won an election over more than two centuries of democratic tradition and national interest.
Worryingly, it is developing a case that, in the words of a crucial witness, retired conservative Judge J. Michael Luttig, Trump is a “clear and present danger” to US democracy.
“Every American must ponder this,” said committee Vice Chair Liz Cheney, a Wyoming Republican, following Thursday’s dramatic hearing: “Can a President who made the choices Donald Trump made during the bloodshed of January 6 ever be trusted with any position of authority in our wonderful nation again?”
The hearings have created a considerably more thorough and terrifying image of the Capitol insurgency than had previously been depicted.
Ex-White House attorney Pat Cipollone provided crucial testimony.
Some of Trump’s younger aides, such as Cassidy Hutchinson, who worked for former chief of staff Mark Meadows, had incredible guts to tell the truth, exposing years of appeasement by far more senior Republicans and motivating others to come out with proof.
That evidence has revealed Trump’s direct and dominant involvement in undermining the 2020 election, falsely claiming victory, and setting off a chain of events that resulted in the greatest attack on the US Capitol in more than 200 years.