Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?


The January 6 House Select Committee Looks Like a Total Failure

Donald Trump
Trump rally in 2020. Image: Gage Skidmore.

So where are we going with this exactly? It’s called the House Select Committee on Investigating the January 6th Attack on the Capitol. But the committee has definitely expanded beyond the purview of the riot and homed in on what Donald Trump did in the final days of his presidency.

Still, the hearings have fallen short of the promise by committee member Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., to “blow the roof off” the Capitol. Given how shockingly easy it was for a bunch of numbskulls to bust out the windows in the Capitol, I’d hate to find out the Capitol’s roof is so fragile as well.

In an ironic twist, these promises of smoking gun around the corner seem to be the Democrat’s version of releasing “a kraken” that a former Trump attorney promised in the post-election litigation but never delivered.

It seems more likely the committee’s final report will read like a fun Bob Woodward behind-the-curtain view but stop well short of the promise of proving Trump conspired with the rioters to thwart democracy.

When the committee’s chairman, Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., was asked if the committee would make a criminal referral to the Justice Department, he replied, “No, that’s not our job. Our job is to look at the facts and circumstances around January 6, what caused it and make recommendations after that.”

“Look at the facts” ought to sound refreshing from someone leading a congressional investigation. It wasn’t. Other committee members—including the vice-chair, Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., jumped to note the committee hasn’t decided yet about making a criminal referral.

It seems doubtful a congressional committee with the most partisan makeup in modern times will do anything other than making a referral to the Justice Department. The Democrat base won’t let it get away with doing anything less. The question then becomes what will Attorney General Merrick Garland do with it? This has always been one front of Impeachment 3.0; one means of trying to prevent Trump from running again in 2024.

The big primetime special brought some respectable ratings and some subsequent hearings had some juicy gossip for political junkies as well. We learned Trump supposedly made a very distasteful joke about his vice president, Mike Pence. Ivanka Trump believed Attorney General Bill Barr’s view that a stolen election was BS. Rudy Giuliani was apparently intoxicated.

On the less gossip and more substantive side, the committee hearing also stressed that the violence on the Capitol wasn’t just spontaneous mob violence, but at least was in part planned by far-right groups such as the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers. Again, something we already knew, but this offered some additional detail.

Finally, of interest, we’re supposedly going to find out about Republican Congressmen who asked Trump for a pardon. But the one Congressman named—Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania—denies it. And, well, we’ve seen hype before that doesn’t quite pan out.

For most Democrats on the panel, and Democrats in politics period, it seems to be a deep desire to make the 2022 midterms about Trump, and part of a long-running obsession to get the orange menace. Former Obama White House adviser Dan Pfeiffer said the Jan. 6 investigation should “shorthand” not be about what happened in the past but what is happening now, as he and others claim that democracy itself is hanging by a thread. Pfeifer is a partisan hack, as are most members of the committee that includes the likes of discredited bomb-thrower Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif.

Cheney is a conservative lawmaker and seems to be driven by a desire to save her party from what she considers a Trump cult. As part of a political family, she’s also an institutionalist, so the attack on the Capitol where her father served before becoming defense secretary and the vice president likely struck deep and understandably so. On the other hand, she should be cautious not to be caught in the quicksand of overhyping the case and stick to the facts.

As evil as the attack on the Capitol was—and it was evil—it’s absurd to contend we almost lost our democracy. That’s putting aside the fact that the United States is a constitutional republic steeped in democratic traditions. Let’s accept democracy as shorthand. This was a riot to interfere with the peaceful transfer of power, which is bad enough and doesn’t require hyperbole.

A literal coup to overtake the government implies institutional support to replace one ruling regime with another outside the regular order. Many of the thugs who did this were in Washington because of a Trump “will be wild” tweet. But to say the thugs who planned to riot were inspired by Trump rhetoric is not the same as institutional support.

If the committee had real evidence of coordination between the rioters and Trump’s inner circle, the primetime bonanza when the audience will never be larger was the time to present this, not wait until it becomes a daytime soap.

That said, perhaps the committee will prove its case, that it was all far, far worse than we know, and reaches to the top—or pretty close to the top. If that’s the case, the nation should be grateful for its work.

So far though, CNN’s Chris Wallace appears to have been correct when he pronounced his skepticism that the committee would provide anything new. The fellow CNN panelists seemed aghast, and Twitter had a meltdown that Wallace must hate democracy. Emotions run deeper on this than facts.

The committee should have the opportunity to prove its case. But we are inching closer to the put-up or shut-up moment.

Fred Lucas is chief national affairs correspondent for The Daily Signal and co-host of “The Right Side of History” podcast. Lucas is also the author of “Abuse of Power: Inside The Three-Year Campaign to Impeach Donald Trump.”

Written By

Fred Lucas is chief national affairs correspondent for The Daily Signal and co-host of "The Right Side of History" podcast. Lucas is also the author of "Abuse of Power: Inside The Three-Year Campaign to Impeach Donald Trump."