Anger and concern well up. Anger and concern that are fueled by love for a country that has been violently transgressed. By a president of the United States no less. And with stunning complicity from those who actively participated in an attempted coup, and those who stood by and did nothing while their country teetered on the edge of chaos. Unbelievable. But believe it we must. Because true it is.
We struggle to keep the mantra: steady, steady, steady. But in doing so may we follow the lead of the January 6 committee whose methodical, steady — admirably steady — pursuit of the facts has brought into the light a perfidy perhaps unmatched in the modern history of this nation.
When one must reach for comparisons to the Civil War to bring context to our current moment, it is to acknowledge the gravity of what we are learning.
Another day of hearings, and yet more details in a tableau of rampant law breaking. It is at a scale that is beyond what anyone could have imagined. Those who screamed into the void about what this man did and what he was capable of were often dismissed as histrionic. But even the most outrageous of suppositions have turned out to have been too restrained. The truth now has far outpaced the speculation. And the probability is that we have more to learn.
Take the news that ended today's hearing, that there is new evidence raising questions about witnesses and a Trump telephone call. Did the president of the United States directly engage in witness tampering? It is impossible to be shocked anymore, yet it remains shocking to even have to ask the question. I've said something of this nature many times before; it only becomes more accurate with each new revelation.
And let us note with emphasis the new revelation that the president indicated that he wanted the U.S. military to seize voting machines as a means of keeping him in power past an election which he had clearly lost.
Perhaps if the reality of what took place was less abhorrent we might be able to process it more easily, and thus be less stunned.
Can this really be happening? Did all of this really occur?
Above all, one question looms for which we must demand answers:
There must be soul searching at all levels.
The cowardice of those who saw this unfold in real time and said nothing is a permanent stain on their characters. Those who would explain it away, or who sought to sabotage this investigation — and that includes almost every elected Republican in Congress — have put their narrow party's unquenched thirst for power ahead of the country.
We must ask: What was happening at the Department of Justice? And what is happening there now?
It brings me no joy to include the press as an institution in this tally of systemic breakdown. How could this story have been so widely missed? And is the full scale of it being given enough prominence? A story of this scale and far-ranging nature is bigger than just the White House press corps. Everyone should have been asking questions. It is not too late to dig into it with more investigative journalism. And while doing so, false equivalence should be banished from every newsroom.
Let us not forget that President Trump was impeached for what happened on January 6, and in the Senate trial that followed, we didn't come close to learning the full truth of his actions. The moment passed without sufficient scrutiny. No longer.
When this House committee was formed, there was a belief among many that the investigation would shed little that was new for those who had been paying attention. Sort of like crossing t's and dotting i's. Yet these patriotic members of Congress, and patriots they all are, have greatly exceeded expectations with professionalism and steely resolve. How stark their example stands in contrast to so many others who were perfectly happy to stay in the shadows in a moment when their country needed them to shed light.
Finally, thought turns tonight to the justices on the Supreme Court who claim to be "originalists." Three of them were appointed by perhaps the most dangerous man to ever have held the office of president. In their decisions blowing up established rights, these justices like to claim to base their rulings on what the Founding Fathers thought.
I wonder what those founders would have made of a would-be dictator who sought to use force to overthrow the will of the people in order to set up dynastic rule. Actually, I don't have to wonder. You can read about it in the Declaration of Independence, and it infuses the U.S. Constitution. It is the words that all of these people swore to uphold and then defiled in a craven play for power over justice and democracy.
© 2022 Dan Rather