On January 6, 2021, all eyes turned to the US Capitol as a large group of rioters breached the building and engaged in various forms of havoc. Congress then held impeachment hearings and a trial looking at former President Donald Trump’s role in those riots.
Now people are once again looking toward the Capitol, as a House committee holds hearings about the events of January 6 and President Trump’s alleged attempts to overturn the outcome of the 2020 election. The committee has been working for some time, but it is now televising hearings—making the committee’s focus on Trump an even wider topic of public debate.
In typical open congressional hearings, representatives of both parties are able to make rhetorical points—and grandstand—in defense of their positions. But Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi refused to allow the most aggressive—and sometimes disruptive—Republican members to join, which led to the party almost entirely boycotting the committee. The two Republicans who did join, Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Rep. Adam Kinziger of Illinois, have declared their beliefs that Trump was responsible for the January 6 riots and that his attempts to overturn the election were dangerous. The committee is presenting a unified anti-Trump voice.
So far, they’ve been able to bring a few important Trump insiders into the hearings, most notably his daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner.
To understand these proceedings and what they may mean for former President Trump, I spoke with two individuals who have deep knowledge of similar proceedings. Daniel S. Goldman served as the lead counsel for the House Democrats in the congressional impeachment hearings, during the first impeachment proceedings against President Trump in late 2019 and early 2020. David Schoen represented President Trump during the second impeachment trial against him, in January 2021.
The hearings in Congress about the events of January 6 seem like déjà vu, as they involve the same issues as Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial in the Senate.
We did have a very quick impeachment proceeding, but this is a different perspective. It’s a deep dive not only into January 6, but also the months-long effort by Donald Trump and his associates to keep him in the presidency. This investigation is designed to uncover everything that happened leading up to and including January 6, and perhaps even afterwards. It’s important both for the historical record and for Congress to determine whether any legislation is necessary to prevent something like this from happening again.
We all know that Congress is empowered to do these kinds of investigations, but when you have a Democratic-majority Congress investigating a Republican—or vice versa—what value does it really have? Some cynics would say that the result is a foregone conclusion.
I don’t believe that this committee is partisan. That’s an assertion made by those under investigation to distract from the facts. We have to be careful about assuming that everything in this day and age is partisan. What we saw in the first hearing was that most of the videotape evidence they showed was from people who were very close to Donald Trump. So you can look at the makeup of the committee, but the committee is not the witnesses. The witnesses are the individuals who are establishing the facts. What we saw in the first hearing was that those witnesses were Republican, so any allegation that this is a partisan investigation or that these are partisan findings is thrown out the window.
A civil grand jury has been empaneled in Georgia to make a recommendation with regard to a possible criminal grand jury. Don’t you think that a court of law would be a more appropriate forum for these types of allegations because there are criminal repercussions?