Vote to subpoena Trump shows Democrats have found their fighting spirit | Moira Donegan

OOne of the first things most pundits will tell you about Thursday, Jan. 6’s committee broadcast — the first since August, and likely the last before the November midterms — is that the subpoena from the committee donald trump won’t go anywhere.

Of course, there were other notable moments during Thursday’s hearing. The committee presented a detailed summary of its findings, apparently aimed at reminding voters ahead of the midterms of the depth of Donald Trump’s commitment to his plan to overthrow our democracy in the service of his own ego.

He bolstered his long-established conclusions with new evidence: We heard, for the first time, testimony from multiple sources who said Trump had privately admitted that he knew he had lost the election.

We discovered, for the first time, that the Secret Service and the FBI had much greater and much earlier knowledge of the Capitol’s attack plan than previously acknowledged (a revelation that calls into question the actions of these agencies that day) .

We have seen, for the first time, footage of Democratic congressional leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer hiding from the crowd, secured in an offsite location as looters raged and defecated across the Capitol, calling on the Department of Justice and the governors of neighboring states in an effort to enlist the help of the police and the military to eliminate the mob that did not come from the Trump administration.

It was all newly specific and remarkable, even if it wasn’t exactly new information. But the real event of the hearings was the summons vote. The committee disclosed the news strategically, just before the broadcast, with push notifications from various news outlets on phone screens across America, reminding voters to tune in.

The committee made much of its decision to subpoena Trump, taking a roll-call vote on camera (unanimously “yes”) and emphasizing throughout Wednesday’s hearing that he was the main instigator and designer of Force’s violent, cockamamie attempt to nullify the 2020 election.

Just before the deciding vote, the committee aired a montage of members of Trump’s inner circle — John Eastman, the fringe law professor who became Trump’s legal guru in a series of failed attempts to undo his election defeat; Roger Stone, the Republican operative and self-proclaimed “dirty crook” with ties to both the Trump administration and the violent far-right militias that have spearheaded the violence from the Capitol — all taking one-fifth of depositions to the committee and refusing to provide vital information.

The idea of ​​this montage was to justify the subpoena of Trump himself. Seethe committee seemed to say to the American people, his friends won’t talk, so we have to go after the big guy. But the Fifth Amendment wasn’t just a vindication, it was also a prediction: Of course, Trump won’t speak either.

It is this reality – that Trump is unlikely to testify, that he will launch a series of legal challenges, lies or, at best, non-answers that shed little light on his actions that day – that gets blasted by the members of the political commentators who like to prove their own seriousness by pointing out all the ways Democrats can never accomplish anything. “January 6 panel offers to subpoena Trump, an aggressive move that will likely be futile,” was cover of the New York Times, a wording that almost suggested contempt for the attempt to engage in a fact-finding exercise. Some people are so determined not to appear naïve that they adopt a biting cynicism, even a sort of learned helplessness – and unfortunately, many of these people work in the political media or for the Democratic Party.

But the vote to subpoena Trump and the willingness to engage in the ensuing legal and political battles suggests that congressional Democrats may still have some fighting spirit in them. After a hesitant start to the Biden administration, in which it seemed for a time that the Democratic agenda would be crippled by the intransigence of Sen. Joe Manchin, the party has won a remarkable string of victories over the months — in particular, it should be noted, since the disastrous Supreme Court reversal of Roe v Wade in June has angered female voters across the political spectrum and galvanized enthusiasm among the Democratic base.

With that wind of popular outrage at their backs, Democrats were able to pass the misleadingly named Curbing Inflation Act — in reality an infrastructure and climate bill — and rally support for relief. of Biden’s student debt and the mass federal marijuana pardon. But the Jan. 6 committee hearings were one of the feathers in the Democrats’ hat, and it’s one of the few accomplishments the House Democratic caucus has achieved not as aides and servants to the program of the administration, but by themselves.

This independence and risk-taking in pursuing Trump may be a sign of a Democratic Party in Congress shedding old habits of learned helplessness and beginning to feel more confident in a political landscape less focused on procedural victories – like, say, whether Trump will ever sit down for a deposition to the Jan. 6 committee or not — and more on public displays of commitment and trust.

According to a new bookthe House committee that made the bold decision to issue a subpoena to Donald Trump, for example, is very different from the group of House impeachment officials who made the timid and timorous decision not to call any witnesses at the Jan. 6 impeachment trial under pressure from a White House Biden who wanted to move on.

The January 6 committee hearings were, on the whole, a much bolder affair than the impeachment, much more aware of their audience – the American public – much better at communicating with them and much more willing to state the facts clearly. . Maybe Trump will never testify. But subpoenaing him is always the right thing to do. The stakes are high, and when it comes to Donald Trump, Democrats finally seem to realize that accountability is more important than risk aversion.

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