Litman: Jan. 6 hearings identified the bad guy in today’s drama – Trump

Judging by the number of times he was quoted, Donald Trump played a rather small supporting role in the actions described in Jan. 6 committee hearing on Tuesday.

But as the driving force behind the terrible events documented by the committee, he clearly played a leading role.

The dramatic focus of the hearings was the meeting at the White House on 1 December. 18, 2020. Except that “meeting” barely justifies it: It was a marathon six-hour bout, roaming the White House from the Oval Office to the official residence, between Team Crazy – Michael Flynn, Sidney “Unleash the Kraken” lawyer Powell and others still poking fun at the president and feeding him a tall story about being won the election, and Team Normal, government officials, mostly lawyers, are still on board the Trump White House.

Indeed, one of the most unusual features of the meeting is that it happened in the first place. Outsiders will not just wander into the Oval Office and have an unscheduled get-together with the leader of the free world.

In fact, it is the job of the White House chief of staff—in this case, Mark Meadows—to prevent such informal meetings. But, as we heard from the committee, by December of that year, Meadows was something between a cryptographer and an accomplice.

When White House adviser Pat Cipollone learned of the meeting with Trump, he and others rushed to the Oval Office to keep the president from hurting himself and the nation. (Powell said in her taped testimony, “I bet Pat Cipollone set the land speed record.”)

Numerous witnesses testified to what happened next. Screams, screams, profanity and even an overture to fisticuffs. As for Trump, only one statement was attributed to him, but it was telling.

In the video, Derek Lyons, a former White House secretary of staff who attended the meeting, was asked if he remembered the president saying something along the lines of: “They [meaning Cipollone] didn’t offer him any solutions, but Sidney Powell and others did, so why not try what Ms. Powell and others suggested?”

“I do,” Lyons testified.

In other words, the criterion for the president was opposition to the will of the people and the preservation of power. Details like the law, the evidence, and the truth didn’t matter.

Trump had another line on Tuesday, a tweet he sent in the wee hours after the meeting finally ended, as he gathered his supporters to come to Washington on January 1st. 6, 2021, promising that it “will be wild.”

In order for the prosecutor to firmly connect the president with the events of Jan. 6 need to fill important gaps in the conversation during a “chaotic” meeting.

But Trump’s underlying strategy seems clear enough: he’s obsessed with the rally as perhaps the best remaining way to keep the White House. By that time, he was losing court case after court case.and he heard his official circle telling him that he was at the end of the road.

So he called in the cavalry.

The Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers and thousands of others responded. They arrived at a rally near Ellipse on January 1st. 6, where Trump played another scene that was highly conclusive for prosecutors.

Over the objections of official advisers, he inserted a reference to Vice President Mike Pence in the official text of his January statement. 6 speeches, and for now impromptu references to Pence and his role in certifying the election results, including red meat phrases such as: “You will never take our country back with weakness. You must show strength.”

There is no shortage of unethical lawyers and syncophants who will tell a ruthless leader like Trump whatever he wants to hear, including the scammer gallery that listened to him on December 1st. eighteen.

And there are many domestic terrorists, such as the paramilitary Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys. waiting for a call to action. (I prosecuted some of them when I was U.S. Attorney for western Pennsylvania.) They are typically a ragtag group posing for each other under the whip of a charismatic leader like Stuart Rhodes, Tuesday’s hearing showed.

What made the committee’s presentation poignant was how clearly it showed that these characters were exercising the powers of the president at the end of Trump’s term in office. They sold Trump the way to stay in power, and Trump empowered them to carry out their plans, which became his plans. At the same time, he was getting rid of consultants such as Cipollone and US Atty. Gene. William Barr of power.

Team Crazy and the likes of Stuart Rhodes deserve our contempt. They planned to overthrow democracy. But in the drama about our miraculous salvation, they play a secondary role.

Their bizarre and malevolent turn on the national stage and their emergence from the oblivion they deserve came about at the whim of the drama’s protagonist, President Trump.

@HarryLitman