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Congressional Committee to Investigate the Obvious
What exactly remains in dispute among sane people about January 6th and the election fraud claims which animated it?
I've only recently caught up with the January 6th Committee hearings. Even though I've had an interest in the topic, I definitely did not expect congressional members to organize something that was this compelling to watch.
Also a surprise to me is how much of the focus of the committee is on addressing the claims that the 2020 election was stolen. It makes sense in context, since what actually happened on January 6th is fairly straightforward. Hundreds of Trump supporters who earnestly believed the election was stolen attended a rally where they heard speech after speech emphasizing the dire straits this country's democracy was at if the votes Trump claimed were fraudulent would be certified by Congress. That same crowd then marched a few blocks away, easily overwhelmed the building's security, and some engaged in aimless violence with no real articulable goal. I can't identify what ambiguity exists to get to the bottom of.
So the committee appears to shift their focus a bit, and they used their subpoena and investigative authority to get an interesting look at what exactly was happening behind the scenes between Election Day and January 6th. The committee got testimony from Trump's campaign lawyers, White House lawyers, and senior officials at the DoJ. They all described how they tried to grapple with the endless avalanche of spurious fraud claims (anyone remember Sharpie-gate?) and were consistently not finding anything there there. Regardless, Trump just refused to accept no for an answer, and he would continue to pivot from one claim to another. Trump also tried his best to involve himself in the investigations of the claims directly, like when he was fixated on the "suitcases full of ballots" in Georgia and called the head investigator in Georgia and went on about how she would be praised if she "found the right answer". I can't imagine circumstances where it would be appropriate to contact an investigator to encourage them to find the "right answer" on an issue you have a direct interest in. Imagine a drug dealer calling a forensic examiner and asking them to find the "right answer" when they test the cocaine.
The general theme throughout this time period is one of flailing. Trump and his allies were desperate to find anything they could latch on their claims of fraud upon, but they had to bridge the gap of several hundred thousand votes across several states, and their litigation efforts were consistently losing in court and anywhere else where it mattered. It didn't stop his efforts to dredge up whatever new claim that came to his attention. Maybe the most bizarre claim was when Mark Meadows asked the DoJ to investigate the idea that an "Italian satellite" was used to change voting tallies. It didn't seem to matter how insane the theory had to be for Trump and his officials to entertain, so long as it concluded that he was cheated out of an election win.
The constant avalanche of spurious claims also had him cycle through his attorneys. Trump seems to have grown increasingly frustrated with how little affirmation he was getting from his campaign lawyers who referred to themselves as "Team Normal". If his interest was finding lawyers who would give him the "right answer", then it easily explains why the ones that did rise to prominence within his circle were either so detached from reality (Powell), had no compunction about making verifiably false statements in public (Giuliani), or were conspicuously reluctant to fully investigate their own allegations.
The same thing happened within his administration. Bill Barr entertained Trump's theories and had the DoJ investigate several but he found all of them meritless. Presumably that wasn't the "right answer" Trump was looking for, and Trump even publicly opined that maybe the DoJ and the FBI were also involved in the election fraud conspiracy. And so he had Barr replaced by Jeffrey Rosen with less than a month remaining in his presidency, presumably because Rosen would be more likely to find the "right answer". The problem for Trump was that Rosen was also not finding anything to confirm his fraud theories, and less than two weeks later Trump was already trying to replace Rosen with Jeff Clark. Clark was a civil litigation environmental attorney, and he had absolutely no relevant experience whatsoever to run a nationwide criminal investigation. Clark was apparently chosen based solely on his loyalty to Trump and, according to Guiliani, because Clark was not frightened about what was going to happen to his reputation.
The Clark gambit never happened because almost every senior DoJ official warned Trump they would immediately resign, and Trump backed off.
All this also comes across as straightforward. Trump refused to accept the reality that he lost the election and he kept cycling through whatever theories he could get his hands on, no matter how ludicrous they were. He also cycled through people too, which meant he did not select for acumen or competence because his goal was to find a Yes Man who would affirm his discredited theories. This too, to me, lacks any ambiguity that needs to get to the bottom of, but I'm curious to hear the steelman. I'm also curious to see if these hearings will have any effects in the long-run. Obviously the QAnon portion of the base will not be swayed by anything, but I'm curious how the saner people will react.