Jan. 6, 2021 is a day seared in the minds of most Americans, but as time passes and memories fade, not everyone will recall just how horrific it actually was.
Last Thursday evening, we got a sobering reminder.
The U.S. House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection held its first of several public hearings Thursday, in which it began to present a narrative of what happened on the day the U.S. Capitol was breached, and in the weeks and months leading up to it.
We were shown depositions of former President Donald Trump’s advisers, who said they knew the 2020 presidential election was not stolen — and they tried to tell Trump exactly that.
We watched chilling footage of demonstrators shoving their way past barricades, breaking windows and streaming into the building chanting, “Stop the steal.” One rioter read Trump’s tweets through a megaphone in real time.
We heard about how rioters wanted to hang Vice President Mike Pence — even setting up a noose on makeshift gallows outside the Capitol — and that Trump remarked that maybe they had “the right idea,” because Pence “deserves it.”
We heard from a Capitol Police officer who described the carnage and chaos that unfolded, testifying that she was “slipping in people’s blood” throughout “hours of hand-to-hand combat.”
Republicans are desperately trying to divert your attention from the hearings. They’re scrambling to discredit the committee and its work.
“This is a sick kind of a show. It is un-American in its nature … I’ve never seen such a betrayal of the constitution as that show trial that we saw slickly produced by ABC,” U.S. Rep. Dan Bishop, a North Carolina Republican, said Thursday night in an appearance on Newsmax.
We needed the reminder of what happened that day, because Republicans have hoped we’d forgotten. They have, after all, been downplaying it ever since — U.S. Rep. Ted Budd, the Republican nominee for North Carolina’s open Senate seat, said on a podcast last year that “it was nothing. It was just patriots standing up.”
The other thing largely missing last night, however, were the kind of bombshell revelations that Democrats and committee members have teased in the days leading up to the first hearing. That’s a risky choice for a committee that wants Americans to stay tuned for several upcoming hearings.
Perhaps sensing that, committee members did more of that teasing after the hearing, with Republican Adam Kinzinger tweeting late in the night that Thursday was “just a taste” and committee chair Bennie Thompson promising that there would be evidence of links between protesters and people in the Trump orbit. Good. Americans need to not only be reminded about Jan. 6, but told what brought our country to the brink of a coup.
Republicans don’t want you to think too hard about all that, lest you remember how they enabled it from the start. They want you to look away. Don’t.