The show promises. There will be live witnesses, previously unreleased videos, recordings of interviews that include members of Donald Trump’s family and a performance worthy of a prime-time show. Because that, precisely, is the plan that the Congressional Commission has prepared for this Thursday night that investigates what happened on January 6, 2021, during the assault on the Capitol.
It will be at 8:00 p.m. (Eastern Coast time) when it is broadcast – in prime time and on several television stations at the same time (although not on Fox News, whose editorial line relativizes the seriousness of those events)― the first of the sessions in which the nine members of the commission (seven Democrats and two Republicans) will share the conclusions of an investigation of almost 11 months that has included more than 1,000 interviews and the review of 125,000 documents. Meanwhile, Washington, that city where politics is also consumed as a show, has already put the popcorn in the oven.
The presenters of the gala will be the president of the commission, Bennie G. Thompson (Democrat for the State of Missouri), and the vice president, Liz Cheney (Republican of Wyoming). About the plot, it is known what its members announced last week in a statement: “The commission will provide never-before-seen material on January 6, will hear the testimonies of witnesses and will provide the American people with a summary of its findings on the coordinated multi-step effort to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election and prevent the transfer of power.”
In question is what happened that day, when the still President Donald Trump called his followers to a rally in Washington to coincide with the ratification session of the electoral victory of his opponent, Joe Biden, a victory that Trump continues to deny. no proof. Later, he harangued the mass to march on the Capitol, which the protesters took by force, shouting, among others, “Let’s hang Mike Pence”, in reference to Trump’s vice president, who was the one who had to certify the transfer. Senators and members of the House of Representatives had to be evacuated and spent several hours hiding from the mob in one of the hundreds of rooms in the labyrinthine Capitol complex. When everything happened, the legislators resumed the democratic process, a procedure until then peaceful.
The conclusions that come out of the commission will have limited legal effects. Although its nine members can refer cases for prosecution, it is the Justice Department that will ultimately decide whether to file charges based on that information. At the moment, the body led by Merrick Garland is fully involved in the largest process in its history: more than 800 people from almost all 50 states are charged with those events. Authorities continue to arrest suspects nearly every week. And among the list of defendants are former police and military officers, a swimmer who won five Olympic medals and the son of a New York judge.
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To ensure success in primetime, the most demanding slot on the grid, the commission has James Goldston, who was president of ABC News from 2014 to early 2021, and who has been working as an adviser to the committee, while quietly producing the television format that Thursday’s hearing will adopt. . Goldston’s resume also shows having directed programs as popular as good morning america either Nightline.
From what some of its members have let slip, it is intuited that they will agree on the thesis that Trump’s obsession with the alleged theft of the elections and the dissemination he made of false statements about the results (what has been called the Big Lie and still in robust health—more than two-thirds of the Republican electorate believes it—laid the groundwork for the January 6 insurrection.
One of the most active members of the group of legislators who are investigating the events, Democratic congressman from Maryland Jamie Raskin, explained in an interview in February with EL PAÍS the conclusions he had reached at that time: “There was a massive demonstration that it turned into a riot. The call covered a violent insurrection instigated by extremist groups: the Proud Boys, the Three Percenters, the First Amendment Praetorians and the Aryan Nations. They came to Washington with the plan to storm the Capitol and that is what they did. That led to a hit. Coup is an unusual term in our political language, because we don’t have much experience internally about it, and because we think that it is normally something that is mounted against a president. This case was different: it was Trump who plotted a coup against his Vice President Mike Pence —whom he demanded not validate the Electoral College votes—, and also against Congress. When he exhausted all nonviolent options, he turned to violence.”
Raskin has also noted these days the coincidence of this series of hearings on January 6 (which could be up to eight, during the month of June, although the definitive calendar is not known) with the celebration of the 50th anniversary of Watergate, the political scandal that is still the measure of all those that came later in the United States. That process, which ended in 1974 with the resignation of President Richard Nixon, also received the honors of the highest audience.
Rep. Liz Cheney, one of two Republicans on the committee, said in an interview with NBC over the weekend that the attack was part of an “extremely well-organized” conspiracy. “It’s really creepy,” Cheney said of the evidence building the commission has been able to put up.
Parallel to the political investigation, justice continues its course: on Monday it announced a new sedition charge against Enrique Tarrio, president of the far-right group Proud Boys, and four other members. It is the second accusation of this type in the process: the previous one fell on 11 members of another far-right organization: the Oath Keeper militia.
In addition, Trump’s trade adviser, Peter Navarro, was charged last week with two counts of contempt for refusing to appear before the January 6 committee. The Prosecutor’s Office rejected his request to do the same with two other former advisers to the former president: Mark Meadows, Trump’s last chief of staff, and Dan Scavino.
Among the most anticipated moments of the broadcast are excerpts from taped interviews with Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who appeared at the committee’s request between late March and early April. She testified for eight hours. He for six. Committee members were not so lucky with some prominent Republican politicians, who have dismissed their efforts as “politically motivated.”
In view of these refusals, the commission investigating the attack on the Capitol called on May 12 to testify five members of the Republican Party in the House of Representatives, including its leader, Kevin McCarthy (California), who had declined do it voluntarily. The list also included Mo Brooks (Alabama), Andy Biggs (Arizona), Scott Perry (Pennsylvania) and Jim Jordan (Ohio).
Also speaking will be Caroline Edwards, a Capitol Police officer, who was injured, and Nick Quested, an Oscar-nominated filmmaker who was documenting the rally that morning. Another testimony that has generated expectation is that of former judge Michael Luttig, adviser to Vice President Mike Pence, in the weeks prior to January 6. Trump pressured his second in command to, as president of the Senate, annul the ratification of the presidential results, a power that legal experts in the United States doubt that he had.
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