Rule of Law

BLOG: The January 6th Select Committee Is Ready to Share Its Important Work. We Must Tune In

On June 9, the Select Committee will begin to show the immense amount of work it has done. Everyone who cares about our nation should tune in.

Washington, DC – January 6, 2021: Protesters seen all over Capitol building where pro-Trump supporters riot and breached the Capitol

The bipartisan Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the Capitol has received 125,000 documents, issued more than seven dozen subpoenas (including to Members of Congress), taken more than 1,000 depositions and interviews, and pursued nearly 500 tips in its exhaustive investigation of the violent assault on the Capitol, and the events that led up to this unprecedented attempt to thwart the will of American voters.

The Committee is now poised to pull back the curtain on the painstaking investigatory work conducted by its staff over the past year.

On the evening of June 9, in the first of a series of public hearings, the Committee will begin revealing information the public hasn’t yet seen. These hearings promise to shed new light on how the January 6 attack on our democracy was planned and financed, how it came to pass, and the people and organizations responsible—and to what degree—for helping make a planned insurrection a deadly event that nearly succeeded.

The parallelism here is palpable. Congress, the same institution against which former President Trump and a violent faction directed their wrath, will begin showing the results of its meticulous investigation on prime-time television, for all to see. No one who cares about the health and future of our nation can afford to miss it.

In engineering terms, a stress test often tests the robustness of a system or structure under extremely challenging circumstances, with the hope that any weaknesses identified can be addressed. January 6 and its aftermath posed a democratic and constitutional stress test for our nation. This stress revealed vulnerabilities in our electoral system that call for strengthening and reinforcement. Perhaps at another time in our history, basic political and civic norms might have done some of this work. However, after a norm-shattering presidency and its profoundly destabilizing effects, we can no longer rely on norms. Now it is up to the American people and their representatives in Congress to do the reparative work our democratic edifice needs. This might mean the passage of bills currently being considered, or it might mean the crafting of new legislation. Such actions will undoubtedly be informed in the future by the evidence presented in the Select Committee’s June public hearings.

The need for repair is urgent—for the coming elections but also for the stability of our democracy as whole. While January 6, 2021, was 18 months ago, efforts to further undermine our democracy continue. As Republican-led state legislatures work overtime making it harder to vote, recent primary elections saw sedition-friendly Trump supporters win GOP nominations for a range of offices, including Pennsylvania governor, U.S. Senator from North Carolina, and “at least six state or local political candidates” who personally attended the so-called “Stop the Steal” rally on January 6. Meanwhile, Trump persists in lying to rally crowds about the legitimacy of the 2020 elections, and called on one candidate in an undecided race to simply “declare victory,” even as votes were being counted. And those who seek to undermine our democracy are peddling dangerous and extremely problematic legal theories, such as the Independent State Legislature doctrine, that would make it easier to undermine valid elections in the future. This is not solely about a particular candidate or a single election—it is about an existential threat to American democracy.

The bipartisan Select Committee members and staff understand that January 6 wasn’t an offense against a building. Rather, the violence of that day was a frontal assault on the American people. It was an attack on all who care about the laws of our country—especially our Constitution. That is why the Committee’s work is critically important. As the Committee’s Republican vice-chair, Rep. Liz Cheney has said, “I think what we have seen is a massive and well-organized and well-planned effort that used multiple tools to try and overturn an election.”

That’s exactly right. It was a violent attempt to stop the peaceful transition of presidential power, an effort to keep Trump in the White House despite the fact that the American voters had spoken at the ballot box. Rather than respect the will of the people, Trump and his allies displayed little respect for democracy, engaging in actions that one might more readily expect from authoritarian leaders such as Putin in Russia, Orban in Hungary, or Xi in China.

That is intolerable in the United States of America. The despicable acts of January 6 must be laid out for all to see, and their perpetrators identified and held to account—not just those who physically breached the Capitol, but also all those who directed and helped plan to overturn the 2020 presidential election, which evidence suggests was the entire goal of that attack. On June 9, the Select Committee will begin to show the immense amount of work it has done. And everyone who cares about our nation should tune in.