On January 6, 2021, then President Donald Trump wound up his supporters, who he knew to be armed, with lies about a stolen election, which he knew to be false, at a rally near the White House. He then pointed them toward the U.S. Capitol with the instruction to "fight like hell". They did. People died. And during the more than three hours of violent attack, as five people would lay dead, hundreds of law enforcement officials injured, and Trump's MAGA mob coming within feet of fleeing lawmakers --- including the Vice President --- the Commander-in-Chief holed up in the dining room near the Oval Office in White House, ordered that no photographs be taken, watched the carnage on TV, and did nothing to stop any of it.
In fact, as the bipartisan U.S. House Select Committee investigating the insurrection and Trump's many other failed attempts to steal the 2020 Presidential election made clear on Thursday night's Day 8 --- and as we discuss on today's BradCast Special Coverage --- he wasn't bothered in the least by the carnage. It was all part of the plan. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]
The then-President was informed that the riot was under way at the Capitol just minutes after returning to the White House after his speech to rile up the insurrectionists. He spent the next several hours ignoring his sworn duty and oath of office to defend the nation and Constitution, while rejecting scores of entreaties from advisers, friends, top staffers and legal aides, refusing to take any action to quell his angry, dangerous, armed and disinformed mob. But he did, as the Committee laid out in minute-by-minute detail, call friendly U.S. Senators (some of them, such as MO's Josh Hawley, who were fleeing for their lives after firing up the mob themselves) in hopes of encouraging them to further his plan to steal the election from its rightful victor, Joe Biden, during the joint session of Congress to confirm the Electoral College vote.
"Trump didn't fail to act," Republican Committee member and Iraq and Afghanistan combat vet Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) charged, "he chose not to act." That, after turning his supporters "love of country into a weapon," as Committee Vice Chair Liz Cheney (R-WY) asserted, adding: "Donald Trump made a purposeful choice to violate his oath of office."
It was, according to the evidence presented, the greatest "dereliction of duty" ever committed by a sitting U.S. President. By far.
The hearing was incredibly information-dense. With compelling evidence and testimony --- both live and on video tape --- from dozens of former aides, military and national security officials, White House attorneys, staffers and family members, all detailing Trump's hours-long lack of action. No calls to the military or national security or law enforcement agencies. The violence was the plan all along. He did not want to stop it.
Even the next day, as seen in raw footage from the White House, the loser Trump could not declare that the election was over during a brief, scripted, video-taped address to the nation, in which his emotional instability and seething anger was, at times, laid bare for all to see. (Everyone but Fox "News" viewers anyway. Fox didn't show it to them, choosing to run Sean Hannity's show instead, making fun of Joe Biden for having COVID, even as the Committee was revealing Hannity's own texts to Trump's Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows, begging him to get the President to take action to stop the attack on the Capitol.)
Perhaps the most chilling moment of the night was the video-taped testimony from an unidentified national security official, his or her voice disguised, detailing how members of VP Mike Pence's Secret Service detail were calling family members, as the mob attacked, to say goodbye, as the officials believed they may not live through the day.
We're joined today by two excellent guest panelists, both old friends and old school bloggers. One, HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Hullabaloo, has been with us for every one of the Committee's summer series of hearings. (They now promise more in September.) And the other is RICHARD "RJ" ESKOW, longtime columnist and host of The Zero Hour on radio and TV.
The conversation, as always with these two, was spirited and insightful. Eskow has some complaints about the Committee, Parton thinks they are doing a superb job. Both have smart thoughts about what we've learned from the hearings so far, including last night, what we still need to learn much more about in the weeks ahead, and what it all may mean going forward.
And, oh yeah, on Friday, just before airtime, a federal jury found Trump's former aide and campaign chair, Steve Bannon, guilty on both criminal counts of Contempt of Congress, for having ignored lawful subpoenas from the J6 Committee for testimony and documents regarding what he knew about Trump's insurrection. He now faces anywhere from 60 days to 2 years in prison, presuming he isn't able to squirm out on appeal between now and his sentencing in October. Parton explains why she thinks today's verdict may actually become a win for Bannon, who she describes as "MAGA Mandela." We'll see if she's right about that.
Lots to cover on today's lively Special Coverage. Please tune in!...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)