The note: The first phase of hearings on January 6 exacerbates the dangers for Trump

Written by Javed Iqbal

Five down, a little more left.

The first phase of the public hearings in the hearings on January 6 ended Thursday, with dramatic testimonies focused on former President Trump and his allies’ efforts to pressure the Justice Department.

House Select Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) Says the hearings will now pause before resuming next month.

The sign is the perfect time to assess the impact of the five hearings so far.

They have not fundamentally changed the electoral landscape – but no one really expected them to.

Yet they have been compelling enough to exceed expectations, hold the attention of a large section of the public, and create new problems for Trump.

The former president has predictably, but tellingly, lamented the case.

Overall, the hearings have portrayed Trump and his most tenacious advisers as pushing for a de facto coup, while ignoring extensive evidence that the 2020 election was immaculate from large-scale fraud.

The committee’s narration has been uninterrupted by voices defending Trump. Its only Republican members are Co-Chairman Rep. Liz Cheney (Wyo ,.) and Rep. Adam Kinzinger (Ill.), Both of whom are strong critics of the former president.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.)’S decision to withdraw GOP involvement from the committee at its inception last year is the subject of increased second-guessing.

McCarthy pulled the plug after Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) Refused to accept two particularly loyal Trump allies, reps. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Jim Banks (R-Ind.) As panel members.

But now people from Trump himself to Trump-skeptical Republicans view that decision as a significant strategic mistake.

“It was really stupid. It was a huge mistake, ”said Liz Mair, a political consultant who has advised several GOP candidates and was previously the online communications director of the Republican National Committee.

“I’m generally not a big fan of the people who would have wanted to move on [as pro-Trump Republicans] but he comes out and looks much worse than if they were there. ”

Trump himself said in a recent interview with Punchbowl News that “it would have been very smart” to put Republicans who support him on the panel, “just to have a vote.”

Instead, the seven Democrats and two anti-Trump Republicans on the panel have demonstrated a remarkable procession of moments.

Large TV audiences have seen a video clip of the former president’s eldest daughter, Ivanka Trump, saying she accepted the view of then-Justice Minister Bill Barr that there was no significant election fraud. Barr himself has been shown several times to have referred to such allegations as “bullshit”.

Republican state-level officials like Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers and Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger have testified to the flurry of personal threats they received after resisting pressure to reverse the election results in their states.

Private individuals such as Capitol Police Officer Caroline Edwards and former election officer Shaye Moss have given moving accounts of their experiences.

At the first public hearing, which was seen by about 20 million people in prime time, Edwards recalled the “carnage” she saw on January 6th. At Tuesday’s hearing, Moss told of her distress when she and her mother were falsely accused of being involved in elections. fraud in Georgia.

The major hearings “have had a major significant impact, even though so much of this happened in public,” said Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University.

“They have shown how much intentionality was behind an attempt to overthrow an election, where many people understood that this was only a campaign based on false information, and how it was all a more orchestrated effort than people thought. not just on January 6. But through it all. “

But Zelizer, like many others, is skeptical that the hearings will have a direct impact on the position of the two major parties, even with the midterm elections in a little more than four months.

The reasons are straightforward.

Opinions about Trump and January 6 are almost cast in concrete at this point. Democratic voters already see him as directly guilty, and his most loyal loyalists will never.

In addition, a combination of a fragmented media environment and the fact that Trump is 17 months away from office deprives these hearings of the kind of seismic effect that the Watergate hearings had half a century ago.

Still, there may be some impact around the edges.

An ABC News-Ipsos poll published on Sunday showed a modest increase in the number of Americans who believe Trump should be charged criminally for his behavior. The figure is now 58 percent according to the poll, up from 52 percent in an ABC News-Washington Post poll in early May.

The political world in Washington is also buzzing with talk of whether the hearings have hurt Trump as a potential GOP candidate in 2024.

The hearings have served as yet another reminder of how much tumult and trauma the 45th President always brings in the wake.

A New Hampshire poll on Wednesday showing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) leading Trump among likely GOP primary voters in the state further fueled that speculation.

“There’s a significant percentage of Republican voters – I would say 50 percent and maybe higher – who, if you ask them if they approve of Donald Trump, will say yes,” GOP strategist Dan Judy said.

“If he’s the only game in town, they’ll support him in 2024. But if there’s anyone else out there who brings a little bit of the Trump style without that kind of baggage, they’re very open to supporting such a person. . ”

Trump himself later Wednesday posted a poll to his favorite social network, Truth Social, which showed him far ahead of DeSantis with Republicans across the country.

As is so often the case with the former president, the supposed demonstration of strength seemed to actually betray some vulnerability.

The former president has suffered damage so far.

Now the question is whether the panel will elaborate on these wounds in its concluding hearings.

The memo is a reported column by Niall Stanage.

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Javed Iqbal

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