Television staff

Comment: Former Trump chief of staff: Republicans should watch January 6 hearings

The significance of the January 6 congressional committee hearings of last week cannot be overstated.

For the first time, evidence has been presented that former President Donald Trump knew some of the protesters were armed before encouraging them to proceed to the Capitol, that far-right rioters were communicating directly with the White House, that the top presidential advisers were begging for forgiveness, that the White House chief counsel feared he would be “charged with every crime imaginable,” and that someone in Trump’s world may be trying to tamper with the committee’s witnesses.

Serious stuff. But about half the country — half Republican — isn’t watching. They object that the hearings are a made-for-TV trial designed to attack the former president and salvage the Democrats’ bleak prospects in future terms.

They claim the “deselection committee” is made up entirely of Trump critics and there is no cross-examination of witnesses. They complain that the committee heavily edited the evidence and that the full testimonies of witnesses have not been released. They point out that some of the evidence presented is hearsay that would never see the light of day in a legitimate court hearing.

And they are right. On each point.

But they should still be careful.

Indeed, for all the flaws of the heavily Democratic committee structure, nearly all of the evidence presented so far comes from eminently credible sources: Republicans.

Bill Barr is a two-time Republican United States Attorney General. A few weeks ago, he was still defending the former president against charges of criminal activity. When he swears, under oath, that he has investigated nearly every voter fraud allegation — including those in the movie 2000 Mules — and found them to be completely worthless, Republicans should beware.

Rusty Bowers is the Republican House Speaker in Arizona. He campaigned for Trump and voted for him twice. And until last week at least, he said he would do it again. When he swears, under oath, that Rudy Giuliani tried to persuade him to intervene in the electoral count in Arizona, and told him “We have a lot of theories, we just don’t have the proof…”, Republicans should be careful.

Cassidy Hutchinson worked for Senator Ted Cruz and House Majority Whip Steve Scalise before working in the Trump White House. She started (working for me) in the Office of Legislative Affairs before becoming assistant to Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.

She was a special assistant to the President of the United States. When she swears, under oath, that she was told the president knew some of the January 6 protesters were armed, that Meadows was in direct communication with the Proud Boys, and that Meadows and Giuliani had asked President Trump for forgiveness, the Republicans should pay attention.

Yes, it’s possible that all of those longtime Republicans succumbed to Trump Derangement Syndrome. It is possible that they decided to ignore a lifetime political affiliation. It is also possible that they chose to perjure themselves over what they saw, heard, and knew.

But if they haven’t, and half the country is not paying attention, then that half of the country is clinging tightly to an opinion of January 6, 2021, which is based on false or incomplete information. . And clinging firmly to a belief based on false or incomplete information can lead to disastrous results. January 6 itself is a stark reminder of this.

When Republicans start testifying under oath that other Republicans lost the 2020 election and then broke the law to try to change that, Republicans need to be careful.

Everyone should.

— Special for the Charlotte Observer

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