“There's no question, none, that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day. No question about it. The people that stormed this building believed they were acting on the wishes and instructions of their president,” former Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky, Feb. 13, 2021.
Jan. 6 was the one-year anniversary of the attack on our Capitol by violent insurrectionists. Congressional hearings are being held to determine just what happened before and during that day. Hundreds of witnesses have been questioned and thousands of pages of evidence gathered.
We all, including President Donald Trump, watched the insurrection on television in real time. Portions have been replayed repeatedly. The hearings should help us learn exactly how this insurrection was planned and financed and how we can prevent such an atrocity from happening again.
The underlying reason for the insurrection was Trump’s claim that he won the 2020 presidential election but votes were changed or lost due to fraud.
In 14 months, no credible evidence has been presented to show fraud on a scale required to change the election results. For this to happen, the plan would have needed to be meticulously organized and flawlessly carried out, with constant communications between all parties involved.
An Associated Press article explains how impossible this would have been.
“Experts say to pull off stealing a presidential election would require large numbers of people willing to risk prosecution, prison time and fines working in concert with election officials from both parties who are willing to look the other way. And everyone somehow would keep quiet about the whole affair.
“It would be the most extensive conspiracy in the history of planet Earth,” said David Becker, a senior trial attorney in the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.
Despite that, millions of Trump supporters still believe the election was stolen, and thousands acted on that belief on Jan. 6. “And having that belief was a foreseeable consequence of the growing crescendo of false statements, conspiracy theories and reckless hyperbole, which the defeated president kept shouting into the largest megaphone on the Earth.” (Mitch McConnell)
Some right-wing sources claimed that the insurrection was a “false flag” operation or infiltrated by anti-Trump protestors. Others claimed it was a normal tourist visit.
The reactions of people close to Trump show they knew he could stop these people if he wanted to. During the insurrection, three Fox News hosts texted to Mark Meadows, Trump’s chief of staff, begging him to talk to Trump.
Laura Ingraham: “Mark, the President needs to tell people in the Capitol to go home. This is hurting all of us. He is destroying his legacy.”
Brian Kilmeade: “Please get him on TV. Destroying everything you have accomplished.”
Sean Hannity: “Can he make a statement? Ask people to leave the Capitol?”
Trump’s own son, Donald Trump Jr., also knew his father could stop the violence if he cared. “He's got to condemn this s--t ASAP. The Capitol Police tweet is not enough … We need an Oval Office address. He has to lead now. It has gone too far and gotten out of hand.”
Despite those and other calls to stop the violence, Trump waited for over three hours before he finally called on the insurrectionists to go home, indicating he knew he had that power. Even then, he praised them: “We love you. You’re very special…. I know how you feel, but go home and go home in peace.”
As McConnell concluded, “We know that he was watching the same live television as the rest of us. A mob was assaulting the Capitol in his name…. The president did not act swiftly. He did not do his job. He didn't take steps so federal law could be faithfully executed and order restored.”
The Jan. 6 hearings will find out what happened and who was behind the insurrection. It’s clear that, at best, Trump didn’t care that his followers were attacking the Capitol, members of Congress, and Vice President Mike Pence. At worst, Trump was complicit in the planning and execution of the insurrection.
Trump followers are so lost in the fog of misinformation, I don’t know if they understand that their leader tried to overthrow the legitimate constitutional process. That is frightening.
That also means that we who love our country and our Constitution must work even harder to preserve what we love and not lose hope. We’ve gotten through bad times before. We must do it again.
Jeanette Strong, whose column appears every other week, is a Nevada Press Association award-winning columnist. She may be reached at email@example.com.