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  • Christopher Strain

Insurrection or Protest? Revisiting January 6

Was January 6, 2021, an attempted insurrection? A riot? A protest that got out of hand? Whatever we opt to call it, that day marked a tumultuous end to the chaos of the Trump presidency. Last night the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol provided an initial summary of its findings, including previously unseen video evidence and testimony. New footage revealed the ugly violence (one Capitol Police officer described slipping on the spilled blood of fellow officers before being knocked unconscious), and new testimony revealed the extent of forethought, planning, and incitement.

Is Donald Trump being persecuted for his role? Any suggestions of a partisan hit job on the former President were laid to rest during the first evening of televised hearings. The cooperation of Republicans in the Select Committee investigation was quite striking. Elected Republicans such as Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming are actively seeking the truth about what happened on January 6. A number of appointees, high-ranking administration officials, and advisors—including Attorney General William Barr and the president’s daughter, Ivanka Trump—said they told President Trump not to subvert certification of the 2020 election. Their testimony preliminarily indicates that President Trump was directly responsible for inspiring extremists to breach the U.S. Capitol. It’s pretty damning. One of the most shocking revelations was how Rep. Scott Perry [R-PA] and other Republican members of Congress allegedly asked the President for pardons before Trump left office.

But I wonder if anyone cares. Accountability is fleeting when it comes to Donald Trump, who lives in a fact-insulated bubble. Mired in fabrications, he continues to pump out untruths about, well, everything, up to and including his own role in sowing sedition. Doubling down on false claims of a stolen election, he continues to spread lies that could incite unrest. His devotees are awash in conspiracy theory. Fox News pundits predictably spun the hearings by talking over them rather than listening to and processing the Committee’s findings.

The stakes are high. January 6 was more than a tragic day in American history. It was a clear and present danger to America’s future. “The conspiracy to thwart the will of the people is not over," said House Select Committee chairman Bennie Thompson [D-MS]. "January 6 and the lies that led to insurrection have put two-and-a-half centuries of constitutional democracy at risk."

We will continue to watch with interest.

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