Cheney: Trump told aides during the riot that Pence "deserves it" and did nothing to send help to the Capitol

Ed is right that the general narrative from last night’s hearing was familiar — to those of us who follow the news closely, that is. The bombshell detail about Trump musing that Pence “deserved” to be hanged, which caused audible gasps in the hearing room, was reported a few weeks ago in the Times. I wrote about it here.

Do most voters follow the news closely, though?

I’d bet the great majority watching last night were hearing that for the first time.

The same goes for this claim, which had always been rumored but never quite nailed down authoritatively. Eventually, after several agonizing hours, the National Guard did deploy to the Capitol to end the insurrection. But who gave the order to send them in? Was it Trump?

It was not:

I’ve never heard of the vice president issuing a military order. Frankly, I don’t know that he’s even part of the chain of command when the president isn’t incapacitated. The fact that top officers like Milley felt obliged to turn to Pence because Trump was completely disengaged from the crisis means that, as a practical matter, they thought he was “incapacitated” in a sense. His dereliction of duty was so total that the country momentarily operated as if the vice president was in charge.

And it continued to operate that way for the final two weeks of Trump’s term, to all appearances.

This is who Republicans are clamoring to return to the White House in 2025.

It’s also true, as Ed said, that the brief video of Ivanka Trump testifying that she trusted Bill Barr’s judgment when he concluded that Biden had won legitimately has no great evidentiary value in itself. But this too, I think, mistakes who the target audience was for the hearing. Republican voters have spent seven years being told that they should trust nothing said about him by his antagonists, that to do so is an act of the highest partisan treason. The only way to reach them, hypothetically, is to show them testimony from people inside the MAGA tent, whose credibility is assumed. And I do mean “show”: Many Republicans are in such deep denial about “stop the steal” that if Cheney had read from a transcript of Ivanka’s testimony instead, they would have dismissed it as made up.

That’s why Rich Lowry is wrong when he says the Ivanka clip was “entirely gratuitous and clearly meant simply to embarrass her—a committee purportedly devoted to saving our democracy shouldn’t be so petty and should do better.” It wasn’t gratuitous. It was a frontal assault on the MAGA conviction that only those with an axe to grind against the great man could possibly believe the election wasn’t rigged. The committee was trying to crack a propaganda force-field so thick that Trump remains a heavy, almost prohibitive favorite for the 2024 nomination in spite of everything.

Simply put, in Ivanka’s case, seeing was believing. Even the people closest to Trump knew that he lost fair and square.

That’s also why this clip of Jason Miller made the cut at the hearing. No one particularly cares what Miller thinks about anything in the abstract. But what makes him a valuable witness is that, like Ivanka, he has no motive to lie. This is a top MAGA mouthpiece telling all the world that Trump’s own campaign staffers understood that he’d lost the election. The Big Lie really was a deliberate lie, and was known as such to Team Trump.

To understand what the committee is up against in terms of breaking through the information bubble surrounding Trump voters, consider the fact that Fox News aired Tucker Carlson’s and Sean Hannity’s shows last night without commercial interruption. So determined was Fox to keep its viewers inside that bubble that it forfeited ad revenue to do so, knowing that a 30-second commercial break would have given some in the audience an opportunity to change the channel and check out the hearing. I wrote on Wednesday night that their refusal to carry the hearing live amounted to counterprogramming, but I didn’t know how far they’d go.

In fact, while Hannity was assuring viewers that the hearing was a bore with nothing of interest for them, his own text messages to Kayleigh McEnany — herself now a Fox host — were being displayed in the hearing room:

Look across the breadth of major conservative media today and you’ll find similar strategies being deployed to reinforce the bubble rather than reckon honestly with the magnitude of the coup plot. Some will ignore the hearing entirely lest they betray the cause by taking such things seriously. Some will engage with the evidence by resorting to conspiracy theories to explain it. The more respectable outlets will sink into a world-weary “no one cares” dodge aimed at changing the subject immediately.

“No one cares” in this context is just another way of saying “I don’t care and neither should you.” Or, to refine that a bit, “I don’t care enough to let this episode alter my judgment that a Trump-led anti-democratic GOP is preferable to anything the Democrats might throw out there.”

I’ll leave you with the highlight from last night’s presentation, intense new video of fascists inflamed by their political hero into trying to overturn a national election by force.