Monday, October 31, 2022

October 31, 2022
Boredom, then a bombshell

The final broadcast session of the January 6 Committee on October 13 was not a hearing —  there were no live witnesses —  but, as specified by Chairman Thompson, they held “a formal committee business meeting so that, in addition to presenting evidence, we can potentially hold a committee vote on further investigative action based upon that evidence.”.  It was designed as a summary of the information presented during the hearings as a basis for the surprise (to me, at least) vote at the close to subpoena Donald Trump to testify.

Commentary about the meeting has been generally favorable, but I thought that it was poorly organized and repetitious.  There were some new facts, but mostly the Committee offered a recapitulation of evidence presented at prior hearings.  Presenting it in segments by several Committee members created overlap and confusion, some of the references were obscure, and it all went on for so long that it took some determination to stay until the end.

The most significant new information indicated that Trump knew and, on a few occasions, admitted or let slip that he had lost.
    Alyssa Farah,  White House Director of Strategic Communications: “I remember maybe a week after the election was called, I popped into the Oval just to like give the President the headlines and see how he was doing. And he was looking at the TV and he said, can you believe I lost to this effing guy?
    Three comments by Cassidy Hutchinson:
    On December 11, 2020, in a meeting with Trump and Meadows: “the President said I think — so he had said something to the effect of, I don't want people to know we lost, Mark. This is embarrassing. Figure it out. We need to figure it out. I don't want people to know that we lost.”
    On the 18th of December, 2020, “I said [to Mark Meadows] look, does the President really think he lost? And he said, you know, a lot of times he'll tell me that he lost, but he wants to keep fighting it. He thinks that there might be enough to overturn the election, but you know, he — he pretty much has acknowledged that he — that he's lost.”    
    In a meeting after Trump’s January 2, 2021 call to Secretary Raffensperger: “I said, Mark, you can't possibly think we're going to pull this off. Like, that call was crazy. And he looks at me and just started shaking his head. He was like, no, Cass, you know, he knows it's over. He knows he lost, but we're going to keep trying. There's some good options out there still. We're going to keep trying.”

The Committee has issued its subpoena.[53]  It was accompanied by a letter, signed by the Committee Chair and Vice Chair, which is an odd combination of deference and accusation.  The former is in the polite salutation: “Dear President Trump.”    The rest of the letter reads like an indictment.     Here is a sampling:

As demonstrated in our hearings, we have assembled overwhelming evidence, including from dozens of your former appointees and staff, that you personally orchestrated and oversaw a multi-part effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election and to obstruct the peaceful transition of power. This multi-part effort included, but was not limited to:

    • Purposely and maliciously disseminating false allegations of fraud related to the 2020 presidential election in order to aid your effort to overturn the election and for purposes of soliciting contributions;
    • Attempting to corrupt the Department of Justice, including by soliciting and enlisting Department officials to make false statements and aid your effort to overturn the presidential election;
    • Without any evidentiary basis, illegally pressuring state officials and legislators to change the results of the election in their states:
    • Orchestrating and overseeing an effort to obtain and transmit false electoral certificates to Congress and the National Archives;
    • Despite knowing specifically that it was illegal, corruptly pressuring your own Vice President to unilaterally refuse to count electoral votes during Congress's joint session on January 6th; . .

After summing up with a reference to “your central role in the multi-part effort to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election and to interfere with the peaceful transfer of power,” the letter ends with what must be taken as another courtesy, as it certainly was not a realistic hope: “The Select Committee looks forward to your cooperation with this subpoena.”      

The subpoena calls for Trump’s appearance on November 14, and demands production by November 4 of a wide range of documents pertaining to the election, the events of January 6, contacts with Committee witnesses and “fundraising efforts based on claims of election fraud or a stolen election.”

Leaving the oddity of the letter aside, issuing a subpoena to Trump seems to me to have been a questionable move.  It is unlikely that he will appear or produce documents, and already he has taken the opportunity, in a letter to Chairman Thompson, to denounce the Committee and play the martyr.  Here is the muddled opening of  his letter:  

The same group of Radical Left Democrats who utilized their Majority position in Congress to create the fiction of Russia, Russia, Russia, Impeachment Hoax #1, Impeachment Hoax #2, the $48 Million Mueller Report (which ended in No Collusion!), Ukraine, Ukraine, Ukraine, the atrocious and illegal Spying on my Campaign, and so much more, are the people who created this Committee of highly partisan political Hacks and Thugs whose sole function is to destroy the lives of many hard-working American Patriots, whose records in life have been unblemished until this point of attempted ruination. . . . [54]

If Trump were to appear, he would make the same sort of speech; giving him a platform might undermine what the Committee has accomplished.  On the other hand, Trump might make boasts that amount to confessions; he isn’t know for subtlety or caution.  On balance, though, I think that the Committee should not have issued the subpoena.  The case against Trump is clear enough.


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