More On: Trump
On the day of its first public hearing, the United States House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol has produced no new material beyond what was already known when Democrats placed former President Donald Trump on trial.
When Trump called for tens of thousands of people to oppose the certification of the 2020 presidential election, he was being aggressive. But he did not "incite" the Capitol riot – not in the legal sense, and certainly not in the common one.
The Capitol brawl began long before Trump finished speaking at his rally about a mile away, as the impeachment trial — which was possibly unlawful and which the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court avoided — demonstrated.
Furthermore, Trump urged the crowd to "make your voices heard in a peaceful and patriotic manner." There was no proof that he was aware that a small group of demonstrators would break into the Capitol, assault Capitol Police, and rush the legislative chambers.
After more than 1,000 interviews with witnesses and dozens of media leaks, no new evidence linking Trump to the disturbance has emerged. The worst that can be claimed is that he told rioters to leave too late and with too much sympathy.
There has been little hint of new information regarding the incident, save from leaking hints about a "war room" — a term coined by the Clintons — run by Trump supporters to coordinate the protests.
Except for a small number of people — even among the rioters — the Capitol riot was not a "insurgency." The Committee, on the other hand, may have exposed a true, ongoing "insurgency" against the Constitution's separation of powers, Bill of Rights, and national unity.
In the history of the United States, there has never been an inquiry in which one party hijacked the other and probed the political opposition, intruding into the private lives of individuals, with the support of extremely politicized, discredited prosecutors.
Unless the Committee is holding some "smoking gun" in reserve — which would be problematic in and of itself — all it has revealed is the extent to which Congress, left uncontrolled, might misuse its powers under the guise of "defending democracy."
Here's what we've discovered thus far about it.
1. Double standard on “riots.” Congress devoted an impeachment trial, and a year and-a-half of investigation, to one riot that involved one directly related death (of a rioter) as well as injuries to police officers and some damage to the building.
In contrast, Congress ignored the left-wing riots that swept 48 out of 50 major cities in the preceding months, causing dozens of deaths, injuries to hundreds of police, and billions of dollars in damage in the largest manmade disaster in U.S. history.
The Capitol riot had a different context: it was directed at the legislature as it carried out its duty of ensuring a peaceful transfer of power. It was not, however, an attempt to overthrow the administration; in fact, many protestors believed they were saving it.
Democrats, including President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, spent months defending the riots in 2020 as "peaceful" demonstrations. Harris aided in the bailout of rioters and called federal law enforcement officers "paramilitary."
2. No serious investigation of Capitol security lapses. Part of the reason for the Capitol riot was that the building wasn't locked down. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said no when President Trump asked for help from the National Guard.
She did this because, during the summer before, Democrats had said that Trump had militarized the nation's capital by sending National Guard troops to help stop riots that had even come close to the White House (a real "insurrection").
Having the Guard at the Capitol would have made Pelosi look bad, and it would have given Democrats nothing to talk about. So, people who asked for help were turned down. Police were so busy that they even opened doors for the rioters in hopes that most of them would leave quickly, which they did.
The January 6 Committee did not call Pelosi or Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who was the Senate Majority Leader at the time, to testify. Nor did it ask her office for documents or emails. Instead, it gave Pelosi a way to get out of being responsible.
3. No equal treatment of Democrat doubters. Trump and his staff said in public that they wanted to use the protest to ask Vice President Mike Pence to send some states back to their legislatures to change how they voted in the Electoral College.
By doing this, they were pursuing a constitutionally questionable and politically divisive plan, but it wasn't much different from what some Democrats have done in Congress whenever a Republican has won the presidency in recent decades.
In 2004, January 6 Committee chair Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) was one of the people who didn't agree with certifying the votes of the Electoral College. But Republicans in Congress who wanted to do the same thing have been called "insurrectionists."
President Biden himself said earlier this year that the midterm elections in 2022 might not be "legitimate." The Committee has called this claim, when applied to the 2020 elections, a form of "insurrection." But he has not been punished for it.
4. Little punishment for “Russia collusion” hoax. The January 6 Committee's hearings have been kept secret, but the first cases brought by Special Counsel John H. Durham over the false "Russia collusion" conspiracy theory have been shown to the public.
This hoax was made up by Hillary Clinton, her lawyers, and her staff after she lost the 2016 presidential election. It was used by the media and law enforcement to try to discredit and get rid of a democratically-elected president.
Kevin Clinesmith, an FBI lawyer, said that he changed an email so that the FBI could spy on an innocent man. He got slapped on the wrist. Michael Sussmann, a lawyer who used to work for Hillary Clinton, was found not guilty last week by a jury made up of Clinton donors.
The "collusion with Russia" hoax was just as much of a "insurrection" against democracy as the Capitol riot. But Congress hasn't looked into it or apologized; some of the people who wrote it, like National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, were even rewarded.
5. Left-wing terror and threats to Supreme Court Justices. In the past few weeks, illegal protests by left-wing protesters outside the homes of Supreme Court Justices have been backed by Democrats, including the Biden White House.
They did this after a draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade was leaked, which was a threat to the way the courts work, and after senior Democrats, like Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, made threats against Justices for years (D-NY).
On Wednesday, a man who wanted to kill Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh was arrested. If he had been successful, he would have been replaced by a liberal.
Even though the Department of Justice is supposed to be non-political, they kept letting an illegal protest happen outside Kavanaugh's house on Wednesday. In other places, pro-choice terrorists have set fire to pregnancy centers, and Democrats haven't said much about it.
6. An illegitimate process. Many of the mistakes that led to the failure of both of the Trump impeachments have been made again by the January 6 Committee. This is not surprising, since both of the people who led the failed impeachments are on the Committee.
The enabling resolution made a committee with five Republicans and eight Democrats. But Speaker Pelosi rejected the nominees chosen by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. This was the first time this had ever happened (R-CA).
McCarthy stopped going to the committee meetings because of this. This left the committee without a real ranking member. Pelosi chose two Republicans who don't like Trump to be on the panel. As a result, there was never a voice of disagreement during hearings or investigations.
Witnesses were questioned in private, just like Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) did during his "basement" depositions in the first impeachment. And people who went to court to question the committee's authority could be charged with contempt.
7. Violation of the separation of powers. The Constitution says that Congress can't be a police force. Except in cases of impeachment, its committees and investigations must be tied to a legitimate legislative goal.
The January 6 Committee has nothing to do with the law. Instead, Democrats have publicly hoped that the investigation would give Attorney General Merrick Garland a reason to go after Trump and his supporters.
Garland did what he was told and brought contempt of Congress charges against Stephen K. Bannon and Peter Navarro. This was after his department didn't do the same thing with Democrats like former IRS worker Lois Lerner and Attorney General Eric Holder.
Reports say that the Department of Justice is now using transcripts of the secret depositions in other prosecutions. During the secret depositions, witnesses did not have the constitutional protections they would have had in a normal criminal investigation.
When asked to show documents or talk about conversations they had with President Trump, witnesses have also asked good questions about how far executive privilege goes. The Committee has done nothing about these problems.
By doing this, the Committee weakened the executive, took over the work of the judiciary, and set a precedent that a future president could take away the executive privilege of a previous president, making it harder for future presidents to work with their staff.
8. Destruction of civil liberties. The January 6 Committee violated civil rights in more than one way. For example, they used the investigation as a way to get around the constitutional protections that witnesses have in normal criminal trials.
One was to order witnesses to turn over their private phone records or bank records for no good reason. When subpoenas were sent to private companies instead of to individual witnesses, they often went far beyond what was being looked into.
In many cases, witnesses weren't told about subpoenas until just before they were carried out. This gave them little time to use any legal options they had to protect their privacy and always put them at risk of being held in contempt.
And the Department of Justice has followed through on these threats, wasting resources on arresting Democrats' political opponents instead of protecting the public from mass shooters or the crime wave that has hit cities across the country.
9. Persecution of the opposition. The January 6 Committee has taken the unusual and shocking step of issuing a subpoena to House Minority Leader McCarthy himself, threatening him with criminal penalties of contempt if he refuses to comply.
Never before, outside of a formal impeachment proceeding, has one party ever put the leader of the opposing party on trial — and never in a process where the outcome could actually be imprisonment. It is a new low, and destroys any hope for unity.
10. Show trial. The January 6 Committee is set to hold its first public hearing on Thursday night, on prime time television, in a special broadcast planned by a former ABC News executive, to help the event achieve its full propagandistic potential.
The New York Times all but admitted Wednesday that the real goal is to affect the midterm elections, in which Democrats fear a crushing defeat, rather than to expose the truth, prevent future unrest, or reconcile the nation after years of division.
The opposition does not know what evidence will be presented, or who the witnesses will be. The hearing is simply a show trial.
Totalitarian regimes do that. Free countries do not. In so doing, the Committee may condemn itself.