Following the second televised hearing of the House Select Committee on January 6, held on Monday, Donald Trump released a 12-page rant denouncing the committee and its investigation as “treasonous” and reiterating thoroughly debunked “evidence” of pervasive fraud in the 2020 election.
The statement was a full-throated defense of the mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol 17 months ago at Trump’s urging, with the aim of kidnapping or killing Democratic lawmakers as well as then-Vice President Mike Pence, so as to block congressional certification of Joe Biden’s victory in the Electoral College vote.
Trump couched his defense of the attempted overthrow of the Constitution and imposition of a personalist dictatorship within the framework of the mounting social and economic disaster in the US. He sought thereby to appeal to popular discontent over soaring prices, shortages in baby formula and other hardships—omitting any mention of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic—and to direct social anger along the most reactionary lines.
He wielded the usual fascistic tropes: anti-immigrant racism—“millions of illegals” marching on the border and “invading our country”; anti-Semitism—“Zuckerberg should be criminally prosecuted” for using “Zuckerbucks” to steal the election; anti-communism—“violent liberal assaults on cities around the country”; and the war-mongering “China virus” libel.
The diatribe was pitched both to the November mid-term elections and the 2024 presidential election, and to the cultivation of a fascist, extra-constitutional movement to be thrown against the growing movement of the working class.
“This [the January 6 Committee] is merely an attempt to stop a man that is leading in every poll, against both Republicans and Democrats, by wide margins, from running again for the presidency,” Trump [more precisely, his ghostwriter] wrote.
While the Democratic-controlled January 6 Committee has already in its first two hearings presented irrefutable evidence that Trump headed up a coup that came very close to succeeding on January 6, 2021, it has sought to exonerate the Republican Party. The Republican Party overwhelmingly supported the “stolen election” lie, has declared the events of January 6 “legitimate political discourse” and continues to back Trump.
Similarly, the committee has left in the shadows the active support of substantial sections of the military, police and intelligence agencies in the attempted overthrow of the election, for example, the fact that the Pentagon brass delayed for 199 minutes approval of the request from the commander of the District of Columbia National Guard to send his troops to clear the Capitol of the rampaging mob.
In his statement, Trump complained that the January 6 “Kangaroo Court” excludes “political, legal, or witness representation from conservatives.” But, in fact, the committee has stacked its in-person and remote testimony with right-wing Republicans, who have themselves participated in conspiracies against democratic rights.
Monday’s hearing featured William Barr, who served as Trump’s attorney general and backed his claims of vote fraud for weeks after the November 3, 2020 election, and Benjamin Ginsberg, who led George W. Bush’s legal team in the 2000 Supreme Court case that blocked a vote recount in Florida and threw the election to Bush, who had lost the popular vote.
It has brought forward Representative Liz Cheney, the war-mongering daughter of Iraq War criminal Dick Cheney, as its leading spokesperson, part of an attempt to rehabilitate the Republican Party and present it as having a substantial “democratic” faction. This is a continuation of the Biden administration’s mantra of seeking bipartisan unity for the purpose of waging war against Russia, preparing war against China and intensifying the assault on the working class at home.
Trump’s statement has highlighted the contrast between the fecklessness of the Democrats—who fear that a serious accounting of the attempted coup will expose their own role in allowing the conspiracy to proceed, and unleash a movement of social opposition from below—and the relentless drive of substantial sections of the ruling class toward dictatorship.
Significantly, Trump’s rant has evoked no opposition from within the Republican leadership, shattering the Democrats’ efforts to rehabilitate this increasingly fascistic party. As for the Democrats, they choose to ignore it, while Biden says nothing about the hearings and his attorney general, Merrick Garland, refuses to indict top Trump co-conspirators, such as his former chief of staff Mark Meadows.
The spinelessness of the Democrats was underscored on Monday, when, following the hearing, the chairman of the January 6 Committee, Bennie Thompson, told reporters that the committee was not planning to issue a criminal referral to the Justice Department against Trump or anyone else. “If the Department of Justice looks at it and assumes that there’s something that needs further review, I’m sure they will do it,” he said.
This prompted a rapid response on Twitter by Committee Vice-Chair Cheney, who said that committee “has not issued a conclusion regarding potential criminal referrals. We will announce a decision on that at an appropriate time.”
The following morning, Democratic Representative Zoe Lofgren, who had led the questioning at Monday’s hearing, effectively countered Cheney’s statement. Interviewed on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program, she said the committee had not discussed issuing a referral against Trump or any other individual.
A committee spokesman added in a statement Tuesday that the panel had “no authority to prosecute individuals, but is rather tasked with developing the facts surrounding the January 6th riot at the Capitol.”
This was followed by the sudden announcement that the hearing scheduled for Wednesday had been postponed, to be rescheduled for an unspecified later date. Cheney had announced at the opening hearing last Thursday that the now-postponed hearing would focus on Trump’s plan to remove the acting attorney general who had replaced Barr, Jeffrey Rosen, and install a Trump lackey, Jeffrey Clark.
The latter had drafted a letter to state legislatures claiming that the Justice Department believed there had been substantial vote fraud in the November 2020 election. Leading officials at the Justice Department threatened to resign en masse if Trump went ahead with his scheme. Cheney said the hearing would feature in-person testimony from Rosen, his deputy Richard Donoghue, and Steven Engel, then-head of the Office of Legal Counsel.
The committee has offered no explanation for the postponement, stating only that the previously scheduled hearing set for Thursday, June 16, would go ahead. That hearing is to focus on Trump’s efforts to get his vice president, Pence, who presided over the joint session of Congress on January 6, to reject Biden electors in key battleground states, a brazenly unconstitutional act, which Pence ultimately balked at carrying out.
Lofgren, speaking on the “Morning Joe” show, tossed off the postponement of Wednesday’s hearing as a technical question. She claimed the committee staff needed more time to prepare video and other presentations, “so we’re going to give them a little room. … It’s not a big deal.”
This explanation, however, is suspect, given the fact that the committee has supposedly been preparing this series of hearings for nearly a year, since its formation on July 1, 2021.