I felt a terrifying fear as the January 6 hearing approached, fearing that whatever they would do would be a demonstration of Donald Trump’s impunity. The former president had attempted a coup, it is clear that his crowd had descended on the Capitol, if not earlier. However, with Trump, the question has never been whether he committed outrageous misdemeanors, but whether those misdemeanors can be valued. Time and again, the answer to that question is given in no.
It still can’t happen. But the hearing is having more impact than I expected. The decision by House Minority Leader, Kevin McCarthy, to keep pro-Trump Republicans away from the January 6 committee ends the back-and-forth swelling that usually plagues congressional inquiries, allowing investigators to consolidate their findings into one. to be presented with narrative coherence. Good true-crime series. Trump, who understands television, is aware of how bad hearing is for him; The Washington Post reported that it is watching them all and is furious at McCarthy for not putting anyone on stage to defend him.
There are signs that public opinion is rising, at least slightly. A recent ABC News/Ipsos poll found that 58% of Americans believe Trump is criminally charged for his role in the January 6 riots, compared to 52% at the end of April. should be done. Sixty percent think the committee’s investigation has been “fair and impartial”. Anti-Trump Republican strategist, Sarah Longwell, has been conducting focus groups of Trump voters since Jan. In his final two, none of the contestants wanted Trump to run again – something that hadn’t happened before.
Longwell insists that these people are not seeing the hearing, which he dismisses as biased. But some of that news is still sinking in. The Republicans in their focus groups aren’t mad at Trump, but they seem to be weary of him.
“It’s plausible that what the January 6 hearing is doing is building more of just a reminder that there is much to defend Trump, much to deal with,” Longwell said.
For some, hearing is doing much more than that. Dustin Stockton helped organize a pro-Trump bus tour that culminated in a January 6 rally in the Ellipse in front of the White House. Politico once called her and her fiancée, Jennifer Lawrence, “the Bonnie and Clyde of the MAGA world”. On Tuesday, after a hearing that included testimony from Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers and Georgia election activists Ruby Freeman and Shay Moss, Stockton tweeted, “This has been the most impressive of the January 6 committee hearings. Embarrassed. I am swayed by the Fulton County suitcase of ballots.
He was referring to a conspiracy theory, pushed by Trump and his allies, that election workers fraudulently smuggled ballots into the State Farm Arena in Atlanta and drove them through voting machines multiple times. On Tuesday, he said, for the first time he realized the story was completely fabricated.
It was not a total face; As Hunter Walker reported in Rolling Stone, Stockton and Lawrence were already disenchanted with Trump. He claims he was shocked by the attack on the Capitol and accused Trump of calling Stockton “the worst anarchy agent” in his environment. Realizing that they could not afford to contest the summons, they were cooperating with the Committee of 6 January.
Still, Stockton has been publicly skeptical of the congressional investigation, and he hates Joe Biden and is a fan of right-wing trolling. Hearings on Tuesday, however, did find them, specifically the testimony of Freeman and Moss about how Stockton extended their lives by lying.
Stockton said of Freeman, “to see the utter turmoil that has occurred in her life and the human impact of that accusation, in particular, was incredibly disturbing.”
There is not going to be a big moment when the scales fall in the eyes of Republicans. Many people already clearly see Trump and prefer autocrats to Democrats. Even Bowers, who at a hearing described Trump’s acolytes terrorizing his family while his daughter was dying, said he would vote for Trump again if he is nominated. But as the January 6 committee duly explains what, for all its mess and absurdity, was a systematic plan to reverse the 2020 election, it’s a little harder for Trump to present himself as a deceitful winner. He will be a loser, not a loser. ,
This, in turn, could make the prosecution of Trump and his supporters a little less political. Bringing the truth to the fore is not a guarantee of justice. It is at least a step towards making justice possible.
Michelle Goldberg is a New York Times columnist.