Question: The hearings of the January 6th committee have exposed problematical behavior by President Donald Trump following the 2020 election.
Donald Trump was aware of meetings in a Washington, D.C. hotel during which legal advisers Rudy Giuliani and James Eastman worked on a plan to replace legitimate Dem- ocratic electors with “fake” Republican electors at the Electoral College meeting in December.
Trump issued tweets claiming that the elec- tion had been stolen and calling his supporters to Washington on Jan. 6, the day Electoral Col- lege votes were to be certified by both houses of Congress. In the speech, he told his supporters to march to the Capitol and “fight like hell.”
As rioters attached the Capitol and injured police officers, Trump sat in a room off the oval office watching TV. His press secretary testified that he said, “Look at all the people fighting for me” then pressed rewind and watched again.
His oldest son, several Fox News hosts and members of Congress, among others, frantically tried to reach the president to ask him to go on national TV and tell the rioters to go home.
Trump waited 3 hours and 7 minutes before making a statement, and when he did told they rioters, “We love you.”
At the most recent hearing, Liz Cheney, vice chairman of the committee, said, “Can a president who is willing to make the choices Donald Trump made during the violence of Jan. 6 ever be trusted with any position of authority in our great nation again?”
What is your answer? Should Donald Trump be prosecuted for seditious conspiracy?
Steve’s first response:
Being somewhat trained in the fundamentals of judicial procedure, I am appalled that anyone could hold out the House’s January 6th commission hearings as any sort of example of how American jurisprudence should be conducted. All the members were hand-picked by Nancy Pelosi to give her only the result she is hoping for.
Pelosi sacrificed any semblance of credibility or objectivity when she rejected out- of-hand Republican Leadership’s choices for their share of members to sit on the committee, and stacked the panel with only voices she wanted to hear.
The hearings have been riddled with hearsay, a total lack of cross-examination by members of the opposition, and the most one-sided presentation of evidence that I have ever witnessed in an official proceeding. As a result, the hearings have been the worst example of unbridled bias and deliberately unobjective railroading that I have ever witnessed in American government.
That being said, the hearings have revealed some very disturbing facts about President Trump that should give everyone pause.
What I’m about to say will make some of my fellow conservatives angry. Two months after the election, despite him being told the truth by his most trusted advisers, including his attorney general, and even family members, President Trump refused to accept that by every credible measure, he lost the election.
Then he compounded the problem with his obstinance and willingness to place his own interests above the interests of the country by allowing his supporters to trample upon the very institutions that form the basis of American democracy. He wanted to have it both ways. He wanted to lead the world’s greatest democracy but was willing to watch the tear down of our democratic structures in order to do so.
Alison’s first response:
Steve, your memory of the selection pro- cess of the January 6th committee is incorrect: The House agreed that the committee would have 13 members; eight selected by Pelosi and five submitted by McCarthy subject to Pelosi’s review.
McCarthy put forward this group: Jim Jordan, Jim Banks, Rodney Davis, Kelly Arm- strong, and Troy Nehls. Pelosi rejected two— Jordan and Banks, both of whom had signed on to the Texas lawsuit seeking to invalidate millions of voters in four battleground states (which the Supreme Court quickly blocked) as well as voting to overturn the 2020 election results. This action was well within her authority and I agree with Pelosi.
McCarthy then pulled the entire line-up. Pelosi then appointed Adam Kinzinger, Republican of Illinois, to the committee.
I watched the hearings, and my perception of them was very different than yours. True, the hearings were a well-rehearsed presentation, not a courtroom proceeding. But they were calm, concise programs combining videos from January 6th and testimony by law enforcement and administration officials, texts and emails, and live witnesses, almost all Republicans, many of whom had served in Trump’s administration, or his campaign, or in Republican statehouses. I found the evidence presented to be very compelling.
But our question is: Should Donald Trump be prosecuted for seditious conspiracy?
The House committee has shown a clear case of dereliction of duty; White House logs place Trump in the Oval Office dining room watching Fox News for nearly three hours during the riot at the Capitol Building, doing nothing to quell the violence.
Steve’s second response:
The way Pelosi set up the committee reminds me of a crooked schoolyard team pick. The first captain picks, but when the second captain makes his pick, the first says, “I don’t like who you picked, so I get to make your pick for you.” That isn’t fair on the school yard, Alison, nor in Congress.
Looking back on January 6th, what I see is stupidity. The mob was stupid, Pelosi was stupid for how she handled Capitol security, and Donald Trump was stupid for not con- demning the mob’s incursion into the Capitol the minute the first rioter’s boot stepped over the sidewalk. But what those stupid acts revealed may be most concerning of all.
My law background informs me that what Donald Trump did during the riot probably doesn’t rise to the level of criminal behavior. Unwise, yes. Boneheaded, undoubtedly, Foolish, certainly, but criminal? Doubtful. I think he has much more to worry about in Georgia than in Washington D.C.
But his actions/inactions revealed how far Trump is willing to go to hang on to power. We learned that Trump listens only to himself…not to his advisors, not to his vice-president, not to his attorney general, not even to his family.
With that level of ambition and arrogation of power, I have concluded that Donald Trump should never be entrusted with the reins of the free world again.
I voted for the man twice. I think he is one of the greatest policy presidents we have ever had. But I now believe that his divisiveness poses a threat to the Republican Party and worse, to our republic. I also believe that the only way Republicans can lose the 2024 election is if we nominate Donald Trump again.
Steve, you can make all the baseball analogies you like, but the House set up the guidelines for assembling the commission, and Nancy Pelosi followed them. Kevin McCarthy is the one at fault for: (1) Appointing Jim Jordan, the most divisive, grandstanding, all-in-for Trump representative in the House, and (2) once Pelosi called his bluff and re- fused to allow the commission to be derailed, pulling all his GOP nominees. You talk about stupid—that was indeed stupid.
As to the seditious conspiracy charges, the committee showed that Trump’s actions rise to that level of criminality. The January 6 committee’s evidence, now being given to the Justice Department, provides the proof of Trump’s calls to state officials in Georgia and Arizona. He personally pressured them to “find votes” or to discard legitimate votes.
Once January 6th loomed closer, he continued to encourage Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell, John Eastman and others to devise plans so that Mike Pence would have an excuse not to count the legitimate electoral votes.
Meanwhile, he put the screws on Pence to throw the legitimate votes out, count the “fake electoral votes,” and refuse to count the real votes. The Giuliani, Powell, Eastman crew hoped Pence would do this, or throw out the real electoral votes, so the election could be decided by Republican state legislatures, who (they hoped) could be counted on to re-elect Trump.
His level of corruption and autocratic ambition is certainly unprecedented in our country. Indeed, he should never be allowed to run for president again.