A rhetorically clever bit from today’s hearing.
Unconvincing, but clever.
Rep. Liz Cheney: “It can be difficult to accept that President Trump abused your trust, that he deceived you. Many will invent excuses to ignore that fact. But that is a fact. I wish it weren’t true, but it is.”
Our democracy depends on accepting hard truths. pic.twitter.com/lZMPwNV0Wm
— The Republican Accountability Project (@AccountableGOP) June 23, 2022
It’s true that nearly all of the important testimony has come from Republicans or Republican appointees hired by Trump and his team. Trump is reportedly raging behind the scenes at Kevin McCarthy for letting the committee proceed without any Trump Republicans as members, but there have been Trump Republicans in the room for each hearing.
It’s just that they’re at the witness table.
That fact is what Cheney is trying to leverage here. She knows that much of the American right will dismiss out of hand any claim made by Democrats, especially claims to Trump’s detriment. You don’t have to believe Democrats, she’s saying. You only have to believe the people who worked for your hero until he went haywire and started asking them to overturn elections.
Even more clever is her more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger approach. Populists crave victim status; instead of scolding them for backing Trump, she’s trying to exploit that sense of victimization. He misled you. He abused you. You have every right to be angry at him.
Clever, but unconvincing. Given the authoritarian turn among the base, if they’re mad at Trump about anything, it’s that he failed to pull off the coup. I don’t think they care that he lied to them about the election being rigged. How could they when 70 percent continue to believe it? They care that he pulled every lever he could think of and still couldn’t figure out a way to stay in power. My guess is that if he had convinced Pence to contrive a pretext to kick the election to the House and had “won” a second term that way, well over 80 percent of Republicans would have endorsed it. “That’s legal! It’s in the Constitution!”
If he ends up losing to DeSantis in the next primary, that’ll be a low-key reason why. When DeSantis picks a fight with the left, he wins. He would have found a way to make the coup happen!
Speaking of Pence, a Republican who was happy to go along with the coup attempt until it fell into his lap, here’s a magic moment obtained by CNN. The biggest news for the January 6 committee this week was the revelation that documentary footage of Trump and his inner circle was recorded before and after January 6. Cameras were rolling when Pence received news in mid-January that some members of Congress wanted him to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove Trump. Watch:
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) June 23, 2022
I think that “yeah, excellent” was sarcastic. Betsy DeVos recently said that she approached Pence about the 25th Amendment at the time and “he made it very clear that he was not going to go in that direction or that path.” Pence was probably already thinking about his future as a potential GOP nominee and reasoning that, however unhinged Trump may have been during that period, the base would never forgive him if he ousted their leader. Pence had burned too many bridges already by refusing to overturn the election on January 6. Deposing Trump would have added insult to injury, especially with Trump’s term in office set to expire anyway in a matter of days.
Anyway, Trump is no worse than a 50/50 bet to be nominated again in 2024, “stop the steal” warts and all. If he wins, will Cheney then allow that GOP voters aren’t having trouble “accepting” that he lied to them but that in fact they support him lying about anything and everything if it helps the party achieve power?
The irony is, there probably are a few Republicans whose view of Trump has soured a bit thanks to the hearings. And they’re all working at Mar-a-Lago:
Have heard from several former Trump advisers acknowledging this testimony is quite grim.
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) June 23, 2022
Maybe a few are working on the Hill too:
Despite the rousing defense from the House GOP Twitter feed and the Trump War Room feed, there is relative silence from most in the GOP as these hearings are playing out, as several former Trump aides have noted.
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) June 23, 2022
I’ll leave you with the big finale from today’s hearing, the roll call of Republican members who allegedly sought pardons from Trump before leaving office. Matt Gaetz was particularly intent, the panel was told. Maybe they wanted pardons for what they were doing behind the scenes to try to block Biden’s ascension to the presidency…
NEW on PARDONS: Republican congressman Mo Brooks sent an email on 11 January 2021 seeking pardons for “Every Congressman and Senator who voted to reject the electoral college vote submissions of Arizona and Pennsylvania.”
— Hugo Lowell (@hugolowell) June 23, 2022
…or maybe they wanted them from unrelated crimes various and sundry. Here’s a bet, though: Not one will suffer politically due to this revelation. Some might even fundraise off of it. That’s what the party has come to — you can abuse as much voter trust as you want so long as you’re working hard to own the libs.
Jan. 6 committee plays testimony revealing that Reps. Brooks (AL), Biggs (AZ), Gaetz (FL), Gohmert (TX), Greene (GA) and Perry (PA) sought pardons.@RepKinzinger (R-IL): "The only reason I know to ask for a pardon is because you think you've committed a crime." pic.twitter.com/yrArap5rTd
— CSPAN (@cspan) June 23, 2022