WASHINGTON — The House Jan. 6 committee’s long-awaited public hearings are set to begin this week, promising to focus on the deep schism between Donald Trump and his allies on one side and democracy on the opposite.
The committee planned a half-dozen hearings over two weeks to put out its findings from greater than 1,000 interviews — an ideal many compelled by a subpoena — and greater than 100,000 pages of documents, with the hope of boiling it right down to an easily digested narrative about what the previous president tried to do to stay in power.
“They’ve got massive amounts of data. They’ve interviewed massive numbers of individuals,” said J. Michael Luttig, the retired federal appellate judge who advised former Vice President Mike Pence that he had no authority to overturn the election as Trump was demanding. “They’ve got to condense this down and tell one easy story.”
To Luttig, who expects to look as considered one of the witnesses through the hearings, that story will not be in any respect complicated. “The one story they’ve got to inform the American people is that our democracy is in peril,” he said. “When Trump denies that he lost the election and guarantees to do the identical next time in an effort to make sure that he wins, he’s driving a stake through the center of our democracy.”
The committee announced an 8 p.m. prime-time start for its first hearing on Thursday, promising “previously unseen material” regarding “the coordinated, multi-step effort to overturn the outcomes of the 2020 presidential election and stop the transfer of power.”
Whether the hearings will affect Americans’ attitudes concerning the violent assault on the Capitol, Trump’s role in it and his party’s continued support for him is one other story. Polling in recent months shows that concerns about that day and the state of democracy generally have plummeted and have been displaced by worries about food prices, gasoline prices, mass shootings, a coming Supreme Court decision on abortion, a shortage of infant formula, immigration and other issues.
“The Jan. 6 hearings are old news,” said Republican pollster Neil Newhouse. “Nothing that comes out of the hearings is prone to change anyone’s opinion regarding who to vote for within the midterms.”
A half-century ago, televised hearings concerning the Watergate break-in and Richard Nixon’s role captivated Americans and eroded support for his presidency, eventually resulting in his resignation.
Fifty years later, though, the media environment is nearly unrecognizably different, with lots of of television channels and online outlets as an alternative of three dominant news networks and a couple of dozen major metropolitan newspapers.
Meaning that although Nixon’s assault on democracy was minor in comparison with Trump’s, the approaching hearings — no matter how explosive the committee’s findings — are unlikely to harm Trump’s standing much inside the GOP or amongst Americans generally.
Sarah Longwell, an anti-Trump GOP consultant who conducts frequent focus groups of Republican voters, said some latest, dramatic piece of data could “concentrate the dialogue” for some time frame, but for essentially the most part, opinions will not be going to alter. “It’s mostly baked in,” she said.
She added that almost all Republicans see Jan. 6 as “unlucky,” but that it was time to maneuver on. “They don’t think it was Trump’s fault,” she said.
Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi decided to maneuver ahead with a select committee to analyze the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol after Republicans blocked a resolution creating an independent commission, much like what was done after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. She then nixed Republican leader and fellow Californian Kevin McCarthy’s try to place election-result denying Trump supporters like Ohio’s Jim Jordan on the committee, which led to McCarthy pulling all of his selections.
Pelosi responded by appointing two Republicans to the committee: Illinois’ Adam Kinzinger and, as vice chair, Wyoming’s Liz Cheney. Each were among the many 10 Republicans who voted to question Trump for inciting the Jan. 6 attack, and each have been vocal critics of their party mates who downplay the seriousness of that day or claim that Trump had not done anything mistaken.
Trump and plenty of in his party have lashed out at any Republican who has criticized the previous president’s actions on and leading as much as Jan. 6, and have been particularly aggressive of their attacks on Cheney and Kinzinger. Earlier this 12 months, each were censured by the Republican National Committee, and House GOP leaders are openly working to defeat Cheney as she seeks reelection. Kinzinger, whose district was eliminated by Illinois lawmakers after the state lost a seat within the 2020 Census, will not be looking for to return to the House.
Trump, despite losing the election by 7 million votes nationally and 306-232 within the Electoral College, became the primary president in greater than two centuries of elections to refuse at hand over power peacefully. His incitement of the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol — his last-ditch try to remain in office ― killed five, including one police officer, injured one other 140 officers and led to 4 police suicides.
Nevertheless, Trump stays the dominant figure within the Republican Party and is openly speaking about running for the presidency again in 2024.