Opinion | The committee on January 6 showed that Biden won, but is that really the point?

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If the purpose of the January 6 committee was to prove that Joe Biden definitively and legitimately won the 2020 presidential election, it largely accomplished that goal on Monday morning. But whether that accomplishes anything related to the committee’s overall goals remains to be seen.

Witnesses within the orbit of former President Donald Trump testified through video statements that they understood and accepted the evidence of the election result and tried to convince Trump that there was no substantial fraud.

Former Fox News editor Chris Stirewalt, whose “decision desk” at Fox made an early call that Arizona was going to Biden, did a good job of explaining why mail-in votes favored Democrats, while votes cast on Election Day they favored the Republicans. Consequently, based on the order in which states count their votes (early vs. same day), significant changes in voting are normal and expected. It is ironic that Fox News, which unceremoniously Stirewalt fired two months after the election, he opted to broadcast the Monday morning hearing, with Stirewalt’s testimony front and center, after forgoing the opening prime-time presentation on Thursday.

Veteran Republican attorney Ben Ginsberg presented a second set of witnesses on Monday, also effectively rejecting allegations of voter fraud. But like the two Republicans appointed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to the committee, Liz Cheney (Wyoming) and Adam Kinzinger (Illinois), Ginsberg was a critic of Trump. even before the 2020 electionsand his comments will be seen as more of the same by the Trump faithful.

Rudy Giuliani, a former New York mayor whose sterling reputation has been tarnished by his bombastic and bizarre turn as Trump confidant and legal adviser, was further damaged by the testimony of others. The evidence shows that Giuliani’s influence in pursuing Trump’s fraud allegations was immense, and his contributions to Trump’s delusional obsessions will forever overshadow his heroic efforts to lead New York after the tragedy of the 11 of September.

Proving to more Americans that Trump really did lose the election, despite all the various conspiracy theories, would be a valuable service. But proving that Trump knew he had lost is next to impossible. Trump’s ego is such that it really could be the case that he sincerely thinks the election was stolen.

Fixing much of the committee’s strategy on showing that Trump knew he had lost is a tactic fraught with danger. It is impossible to prove what was in someone’s heart and mind. The point seems to be that showing Trump knew his fraud claims were false makes him legally more guilty of fomenting the Jan. 6 unrest and means he poses a constant threat.

But it is a dangerous tightrope in that it suggests that if Trump really believed there was fraud, his actions might be somehow justifiable. They are not. Richard M. Nixon in 1960 and Al Gore in 2000 set the example of accepting the official result despite credible evidence to object. Even if Trump goes to his grave believing the 2020 election was stolen, his inability to accept the results after exhausting reasonable legal avenues is an unforgivable dereliction of duty.

After every presidential election, the voluntary participation of the loser in recognizing the winner is the most important example that the United States sends to the world, especially when an incumbent loses and undertakes the peaceful transfer of power. That Trump did not do that, even if he sincerely believed that the fraud was real and demonstrable, is indefensible. Showing that he did not believe his own fraud rhetoric is beside the point.

The purpose of the January 6 committee is to investigate the origins of the attack on the US Capitol and determine if anyone, particularly Trump himself, planned and coordinated it. To that end, Monday’s performance was no less scripted than last Thursday’s big prime-time show. There was no cross-examination of witnesses, no counterattack to the predetermined narrative. The appearance of a carefully choreographed presentation with a predetermined outcome detracts from credibility.

thursday hearing attracted about 20 million viewers. That’s less than 1 in 10 American adults, according to census figures. That’s a pretty paltry audience, considering the hearing was broadcast live on ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, CNN, MSNBC, and other outlets. By contrast, this year’s State of the Union address attracted 38 million viewers. One report noted that the audience won the academy awardsBut that shouldn’t have been difficult, considering the steady drop in ratings for the Oscars and the fact that the ceremony is broadcast on only one network.

A recent CNN story alarmingly noted that Trump’s standing with Americans has actually risen since January 6, 2021, and he has outpolled Biden in matchups. Perhaps these hearings will temper a Trump resurgence somewhat, but unless there are more opportunities to challenge the one-sided nature of the format, they are likely to be cheered by Trump critics and ridiculed by his supporters, with little to change the perception of either. sides. .


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