This article appeared in the June 10, 2022 edition of the Monitor Daily.

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Documenting history

J. Scott Applewhite/AP
A video showing former White House adviser Ivanka Trump speaking during an interview with the Jan. 6 committee is shown as committee members look on, as the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol holds its first public hearing to reveal the findings of a yearlong investigation, at the Capitol in Washington, June 9, 2022.
Peter Grier
Washington editor

I’ve attended, watched, or read the transcript of countless congressional hearings in my decades as a journalist.

But I’ve never encountered anything like Thursday night’s hearing of the U.S. House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.

It wasn’t boring. Committee members didn’t all make opening statements aimed at voters back home. There weren’t rounds of questioning where the questions took up most of a member’s allotted time.

It was gripping, in fact. As promised, the committee honed months of work into a narrative that there was a coordinated attempt to stop the transfer of power to President-elect Joe Biden, with then-President Donald Trump at its heart.

One of the narrative’s key themes was that much of Mr. Trump’s inner circle was aware that claims of “election fraud” were false, and told him so. “I did not agree with saying the election was stolen,” said former Attorney General Bill Barr in a taped deposition. 

Another was that some things that didn’t happen were as important as things that did. Mr. Trump made no call to anyone asking for the Capitol to be defended. Vice President Mike Pence – trapped inside – did.

“Pence issued ... unambiguous orders,” said Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley in his deposition.

A third theme was that the Capitol insurrection was an organized assault by extremist groups who claimed they had been called to action by Mr. Trump. 

“It was a war scene,” said witness Caroline Edwards, a member of the Capitol Police injured in the riot.

The hearing drew a quick response from the former president on his Truth Social network.

“The so-called ‘Rush on the Capitol’ was not caused by me, it was caused by a Rigged and Stolen Election!” he posted.

Other Republicans said the narrative was old news and would make no difference to voters. 

It’s true that the findings of the Jan. 6 panel may not make much difference in the upcoming midterms. But that’s another thing different about Thursday’s hearing: It seemed intended to document a momentous event for history, as much as, or more than, to sway votes.

This article appeared in the June 10, 2022 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 06/10 edition
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