In the time since January 6, 2021, Americans have wondered who was responsible for planning and coordinating the attack on the U.S. Capitol. As the months went by, we watched with concern, then growing alarm as the Department of Justice systematically pursued a ground-up approach, bringing charges against the rebellion’s foot soldiers and then their command structure in the field.
According to the New York Times, more than 840 defendants from nearly all 50 states have been arrested. Of those, the Times said “about 250 have been charged with assaulting, resisting or impeding the police, and members of two far-right groups have been charged with seditious conspiracy, a rare accusation that represents the most serious criminal charges brought in the department’s sprawling investigation.”
Meanwhile, well behind the scenes, the House committee investigating the January 6 attack was taking a top-down approach. Now, as the public hearings on the committee’s findings unfold in front of the TV cameras, we have a much better understanding of who was really responsible for the heinous attack on our democracy on January 6.
Now we know.
We know Donald Trump, whose bloated ego won’t let him accept he lost the 2020 election by almost eight million votes, did more than bitterly and endlessly complain about his defeat. He conspired to overturn the legitimate results of the election with a seven-point plan, repeatedly challenging the results with no evidence to back his claims and then hoping a mob would accomplish on Capitol Hill what he couldn’t achieve in the courts.
We know that Trump — told repeatedly by members of his family and aides, including his own Attorney General, he lost the election fair and square — continued to claim the election was stolen, convincing millions of Americans who to this day believe his Big Lie.
We know that once the assault on the Capitol began, he did nothing to stop it until hours after the damage was done — a dereliction of duty that’s hard to imagine for a public official who has taken an oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution and the laws of the land.
We know Trump corruptly pressured state legislators and election officials, and even his own vice president, to illegally deny the electoral results — a strategy that has led to a separate investigation in Georgia.
We know in the days just before January 6, Trump attempted to install a loyalist as acting attorney general who would have declared the election was corrupt and launched investigations in several states. Trump’s crude attempt to turn the nation’s chief law enforcement agency into his own law firm failed only because DOJ’s top leaders threatened to resign if Trump went forward with his plan.
We know that but for the good sense of the Secret Service, Trump would have gone to Capitol Hill to be with the armed mob that attacked our democracy.
In a bizarre aside, we know that in the days following the election, Trump and his fellow grifters raised at least $250 million, ostensibly to fund an organization that doesn’t exist. Not surprisingly, much of the money campaign aides raised has allegedly found its way into the checking accounts of Trump businesses and his allies. Dollars from this scam also were used to pay for the January 6 rally on the Ellipse that presaged the riot on Capitol Hill.
We know these damning accusations not because muckraking journalists or partisan politicians uncovered them. We know because former Trump officials, sworn to tell the truth, admitted in front of the committee and the country that Trump acted corruptly and illegally to undermine our most fundamental freedoms.
What we don’t know at this point is what the July hearings of the January 6 Committee will reveal. We also don’t know what Americans are willing to do to punish Trump and his nefarious lieutenants. Will minds be changed as a result of the January 6 Committee’s findings? Will voters support the legislative recommendations the Committee forwards to the full Congress?
Most importantly, will Americans vote in November to remove politicians who supported corruption, sedition and fraud in the Trump White House?