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Monday, January 2 was the last official day of the Congressional committee assigned to investigate the January 6 attack on the Capitol. The plan was that Tuesday, January 3 new members of Congress would be sworn in. That hasn’t all gone according to plan – if there even was a plan.

Liz Cheney, Vice-chair of the Jan. 6 House Select Committee investigating the insurrection events, lost her House seat over her determination to investigate it. Image courtesy of Washington Post

The massive, 814-page report by the “Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol” was released just ahead of the holiday and it places the blame for the January 6, 2021 insurrection squarely on former President Donald Trump.

Diving into the final report by the January 6 Congressional Committee is a bit like diving off the deep end of the dock into the ocean during a storm — working against the waves can be a fight to get to the surface, let alone getting air to breathe. You finish reading one section — and the wave of the next subplot hits you.

On December 23, 2022 the Jan. 6 committee announced their intent to recommend to the Department of Justice (DOJ)  at least four charges against Trump himself.

“If a president can incite an insurrection and not be held accountable – then anything can happen,” said Jan. 6 Committee member and Republican Adam Kinsinger.

As the report makes clear; the actual January 6 attack on the Capitol was only the culmination of  a multi-pronged attempt to hold on to the presidency; a group of nearly unbelievable subplots that involved just denying the election results with no evidence, some 67 legal claims of ballot irregularities (all of which were rejected by the Justice Department), defamation of voting system companies and voting system employees, of county and state Clerk and Recorders, attempts to influence state Secretaries of State to change election results, and the creation of false slates of electors.

As the committee has proceeded with its work, and as the DOJ has begun investigating, the violence that Trump’s supporters have shown continues to be concerning. They have threatened the lives of the Jan. 6 committee, the IRS, and the FBI. Everyone underestimated the hostility of the white nationalists in that Jan. 6 crowd.

Social Media, including Trump’s own “Truth Social”, is rift with violent rhetoric, lies, name-calling, and calls to violent action; not just at national targets, but in local communities and including state and county offices, schools, and the nation’s infrastructure. The threats underlie the Department of Homeland Security heightened threat alert for domestic extremism, particularly by white nationalist terrorism, issued in November 2022.

Trump’s supporters have shown up with AR-15s and nail guns at FBI offices — Trump and these people have spoken openly of getting rid of our judges, and lopping off whole sections of the Constitution as irrelevant. They have offered bribes including the hope of cushy jobs to several of the key witnesses who have testified before the Jan. 6 committee.

The Jan. 6 Committee decided upon recommending four charges, with a fifth, seditious conspiracy not recommended, but certainly supported by some of the evidence in the report. The massive report went into detail about each recommended charge — and the charges are serious:

  • Obstruction of an official proceeding
  • Conspiracy to defraud the United States
  • Conspiracy to make a false statement
  • Inciting, assisting, or giving aid or comfort to an insurrection.

The Department of Justice is weighing what actual charges come next.

The wrap-up of the exhaustive work of the January 6 House Select Committee has been overshadowed this week by the antics of the Republican House majority which can’t seem to pull itself together to complete its first function as a majority; to elect a Speaker of the House.

Perhaps we should remember that that majority now includes dozens of election deniers and even more who were in the House the day of the insurrection, who returned for the vote that night and STILL voted not to certify the election, claiming that former President Donald Trump somehow won the 2020 election.

Fact: Trump did not win the 2020 election. Trump lost by a significant difference in both popular votes and in electoral votes.

Fact: The number of subplots, the number of ways in which former President Donald Trump and his allies attempted to hold on to power against the will of “We the People” — even before the election was held — takes one’s breath away. Jan. 6 was the culmination of those attempts, but not the only attempt.

The idea that the U.S. House of Representatives now has an anti-democracy contingent is not good news for this democracy.