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The January 6 hearings will highlight the battle between democracy and Donald Trump

WASHINGTON — The long-awaited House committee hearings on Jan. 6 are set to begin this week, promising to shine a light on the deep schism between Donald Trump and his allies on one side and democracy on the other.

The committee has scheduled half a dozen hearings over two weeks to present its findings from more than 1,000 interviews – many of them compelled by subpoenas – and more than 100,000 pages of documents , hoping to boil it down to an easily digestible narrative. on what the former president tried to do to stay in power.

“They have huge amounts of information. They interviewed a lot of people,” said J. Michael Luttig, the retired federal appeals judge who told former Vice President Mike Pence he had no authority to overturn the decision. election as Trump demanded. “They need to condense that and tell a simple story.”

For Luttig, who expects to appear as one of the witnesses at the hearings, this story is not complicated at all. “The only story they have to tell the American people is that our democracy is in jeopardy,” he said. “When Trump denies losing the election and promises to do the same next time to ensure he wins, he drives a stake through the heart of our democracy.”

The committee announced an 8 p.m. prime-time start to its first hearing on Thursday, promising ‘unreleased material’ regarding the ‘coordinated multi-stage effort to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election and prevent the transfer power”.

Whether the hearings affect Americans’ attitudes about the violent assault on the Capitol, Trump’s role in it, and his party’s continued support for him is another story. Polls in recent months show that worries about today and the state of democracy in general have collapsed and been replaced by worries about food prices, gasoline prices, mass shootings , an upcoming Supreme Court decision on abortion, a shortage of infant formula, immigration and other issues.

“The January 6 hearings are old news,” Republican pollster Neil Newhouse said. “Nothing that emerges from the hearings is likely to change anyone’s opinion as to who to vote for midterm.”

Half a century ago, televised hearings on the Watergate robbery and the role of Richard Nixon captivated Americans and eroded support for his presidency, ultimately leading to his resignation.

Fifty years later, however, the media environment is almost unrecognizable, with hundreds of television stations and online outlets instead of three dominant news networks and a few dozen major metropolitan newspapers.

This means that while Nixon’s attack on democracy was minor compared to Trump’s, the upcoming hearings – no matter how big the committee’s explosive findings – are unlikely to do much harm to Nixon’s position. Trump within the GOP or among Americans in general.

Sarah Longwell, a GOP anti-Trump consultant who frequently leads Republican voter focus groups, said dramatic new information could “focus the dialogue” for a while, but for the most part opinions won’t change. not. . “It’s mostly cooked,” she says.

She added that most Republicans view Jan. 6 as “unfortunate,” but it was time to move on. “They don’t think it was Trump’s fault,” she said.

Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi decided to move forward with a select committee to investigate the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol after Republicans blocked a resolution creating an independent commission, similar to which was done after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. She then rejected Republican leader and fellow Californian Kevin McCarthy’s attempt to place Trump supporters like Jim Jordan of Ohio on the committee, which led McCarthy to withdraw all their selections.

Pelosi responded by nominating two Republicans to the committee: Adam Kinzinger of Illinois and, as vice chair, Liz Cheney of Wyoming. Both were among 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Trump for inciting the Jan. 6 attack, and both have sharply criticized fellow party members who downplay the day’s gravity or say Trump did nothing. of badness.

Trump and many in his party have lambasted any Republican who criticized the former president’s actions through Jan. 6 and have been particularly aggressive in their attacks on Cheney and Kinzinger. Earlier this year, both were censured by the Republican National Committee, and House GOP leaders are openly working to defeat Cheney as she seeks re-election. Kinzinger, whose district was eliminated by Illinois lawmakers after the state lost a seat in the 2020 census, is not looking to return to the House.

Trump, despite losing the election by 7 million votes nationally and 306-232 in the Electoral College, became the first president in more than two centuries of elections to refuse to hand over power peacefully. His instigation of the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol — his latest attempt to stay in power — left five people dead, including one police officer, injured 140 other officers, and led to four police suicides.

Nonetheless, Trump remains the dominant figure in the Republican Party and is openly talking about running for president again in 2024.


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