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    Tuesday, August 09, 2022

    Jan. 6 hearings are making it harder for Republicans to keep the Trump charade going

    January 6 is not behind us — the House select committee investigating the attack on the U.S. Capitol has made that much clear.

    The committee has held seven public hearings so far, gradually putting together the pieces of Donald Trump’s dangerous election lies and how they ultimately led to an attempted coup.

    It seems almost unthinkable that someone could watch the hearings and still manage to find the behavior of Trump and his allies defensible. So maybe that’s why Republicans refuse to take them seriously.

    North Carolina Senate leader Phil Berger is one of many Republicans who claims he hasn’t been watching the hearings, calling them “fictional readings.”

    “I think what’s going on there is an effort to paint a picture that is an exaggeration in many respects of what happened … or maybe even just a fictional account of what someone’s perception is of people’s motivations,” Berger told WRAL’s Travis Fain on a podcast last week.

    But Berger and his fellow Republicans should really start paying attention.

    At Tuesday’s hearing, the committee explained how Trump intentionally summoned a mob to the nation’s capital and directed the mob to wage an attack on our democracy.

    In December 2020, after the Electoral College officially confirmed Joe Biden as the winner of the election, Trump sent a tweet urging his supporters to come to Washington on Jan. 6, writing, “Be there, will be wild!”

    That tweet, the committee said, served as a call to action and, in some cases, a call to arms for Trump supporters. They began to organize in the darkest corners of the internet, calling Jan. 6 a “once in a lifetime moment.”

    It was all planned. The potential for violence was obvious. And it was all based on a lie that Trump and those in his inner circle knew was untrue.

    So far, the committee has told us about Trump’s knowingly false election fraud conspiracy, a fake electors scheme, a pressure campaign on state election officials, his attempts to strong-arm the Justice Department and an illegal plot to block or delay the certification of Electoral College votes on Jan. 6.

    Unfortunately, even the most damning of the committee’s findings don’t seem to be enough to sway Republicans. Since the hearings began, the GOP has largely either ignored them or attempted to discredit them altogether. They have, on various occasions, called the committee a “sham,” a “clown show,” a “witch hunt,” and a “kangaroo court.” They’ve also encouraged Americans to turn their attention to other television programming, such as the U.S. Open, “Gunsmoke” and HGTV.

    And despite all we’ve learned, many Republicans continue to at least implicitly support the former president, who has long said he plans to run again in 2024. Several of the committee’s witnesses have expressed concern for the next election cycle, including Jason Van Tatenhove, a former spokesman for the Oath Keepers, a violent militia group that was deeply involved in the events of Jan. 6.

    “If a president that’s willing to try to instill and encourage, whip up a civil war among his followers, using lies and deceit and snake oil, regardless of the human impact, what else is he going to do if he gets elected again?” Van Tatenhove said before the committee Tuesday.

    The committee has promised that next week’s hearing will be a “profound moment of reckoning” for America. Hopefully, Republicans will join in that reckoning.

    After all, the GOP’s refusal to take Trump and the threat he posed seriously is a big reason why he got elected in the first place. Their refusal to deny his blatantly false claims about the 2020 election helped Jan. 6 happen. And now, after everything that’s happened, too many of them are still unwilling to summon the political courage to speak up. They’re putting party first and democracy last.

    “President Trump is a 76-year-old man. He is not an impressionable child. Just like everyone else in our country, he is responsible for his own actions and his own choices,” Rep. Liz Cheney, the committee’s Republican vice chairwoman, said Tuesday.

    When will Republicans finally admit that?

    ____

    ©2022 The Charlotte Observer. Visit at charlotteobserver.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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