Oath Keepers and Proud Boys could take center stage at upcoming 1/6 hearing

In the days leading up to the opening of the 1/6 Select Committee hearings on the Capitol attack, the airwaves were filled with the usual cynical, rambling nihilism that rises with anything worth hoping for. these days. Will anyone be watching? will be the good people Look? Will it make a difference? The pregame responses, for the most part, were no, not average and no, not necessarily in that order.

What a difference a few audiences make. The 1/6 committee — thanks in large part to the GOP’s own error of purpose in not stuffing the panel with distraction machines like Jim Jordan — delivered a presentation that was as compelling as it was damning. Same FoxNews was forced to release them. If Attorney General Merrick Garland is still playing Hamlet on whether or not to prosecute Donald Trump for his 1/6 seditions, it won’t be for lack of evidence.

In fact, this is perhaps the most remarkable aspect of these hearings: so much evidence to be presented could have overwhelmed the proceedings, but instead, a constant conveyor belt of information and revelations transformed these events. into compelling must-see television. They are the new center of gravity of the Washington DC political universe; they apparently scared the hell out of Trump; and there are at least two more to go this week before the curtain falls.

A significant portion of Tuesday’s hearing appears to be focused on the tweet heard around the world – Trump’s invitation to the “big protest in DC on Jan. 6.” Be there, it’s going to be wild! — and how various far-right groups reacted to it. It is deeply significant; with this, the committee seeks to show Trump as more than just a giddy bystander to the chaos, and as a central instigator of the violence that followed. If they can make that point, Trump’s legal problems will be compounded by an order of magnitude.

“People are going to hear the story of this tweet,” said committee member Jamie Raskin. CBS News“Face the Nation” on Sunday, “and then the explosive effect it had in Trumpworld, and particularly among domestic violent extremist groups, the most dangerous political extremists in the country at that time.”

As of this writing, no official witness list for Tuesday has been removed. Chances are good, however, that we’ll hear from some or all of the following: Jason Van Tatenhove, a former spokesman for the Colorado Oath Keepers; Joe Biggs, a member of the Florida Proud Boys charged with seditious conspiracy; Ethan Nordean, a Seattle Proud Boy also charged with seditious conspiracy; and Kelly Meggs, an associate of Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and a member of Roger Stone’s “security detail” in the days before the uprising.

Needless to say, the gold standard for these hearings was set by former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson, whose measured but devastating testimony shook the country. Note: Tony Ornato and Bobby Engel, the two Trump allies who contradicted Hutchinson’s description of a violently unhinged Trump attacking his security detail on 1/6, have yet to issue an affidavit regarding their claims. . There doesn’t appear to be any ongoing effort to make that happen.

This was all very important, but Tuesday’s testimony may prove even more significant. If the committee has indeed secured the cooperation of members of the Proud Boys or other extremist groups, the country is about to be given a guided tour through a terrifying realm that many never knew existed. These people are fist in Trump’s authoritarian glove, and to this day they have reveled violently in this role. They are the fire Trump was playing with on 1/6, and he nearly burned it all down. I’ll listen to these people with my big ears and expect to walk away with a stomach ulcer the size of a car battery.

Not to be outdone by a clot of fascist street brawlers, we might also see one of the biggest fish in the 1/6 pond on Tuesday. “As White House counsel, Pat Cipollone was aware of the tumultuous final months of the Trump administration,” reports Policy, “weighing and pushing back on Trump’s efforts at key junctures. Hutchinson described him as raising legal concerns about plans to appoint alternative voter lists, plans to appoint Sidney Powell as special counsel to investigate voter fraud and Trump’s proposed march to the Capitol on Jan. 6. .

Cipollone testified on camera for the committee for about eight hours on Friday. Reports suggest he was mostly cooperative, but invoked privilege on occasion when questions got too close to his professional relationship with the former president. Infuriating but fair: The committee understands solicitor-client privilege and has apparently taken pains not to trigger this response too often. “[I]Investigators focused primarily on Mr. Cipollone’s views on the events of January 6,” reports The New York Times“and generally did not ask his opinion on the accounts of other witnesses”.

The last “person in the room” testimony we got was from Hutchinson, and she blew the roof off the joint. Cipollone has the potential to completely bury Trump. Clearly, he vehemently disagreed with Trump’s actions that day, and now he will have the opportunity to explain why. Worse for Trump, if Cipollone is brutally honest within the bounds of privilege, his testimony could spell the end of the shield of loyalty Trump has enjoyed thus far. If Pat rolls, hats off to the windmill.

There’s noise that former Trump adviser and anthropomorphic hate-potato Steve Bannon might testify somewhere down the line, but it’s mostly smoke at this point. The consensus seems to be that Trump, having released Bannon from a privilege that actually has no legal bearing on his testimony, expects Bannon to act as some sort of human bomb to come in and detonate the proceedings. Committee members, who haven’t come down with the last raindrop, intend to thoroughly interview Bannon in private before letting him approach a camera. Jury selection for Bannon’s contempt of Congress charges begins in just over a week, and his motive for speaking to the committee may well be tied to those proceedings. The Department of Justice certainly thinks so.

Paul Ryan cried. Trump’s children are not doing well. Hearings continue Tuesday at 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

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