Last night, the bipartisan House January 6th Select Committee presented its first day of findings to the American people. Using never before seen video of the assault on the Capital, testimony of Trump allies, and statements of police officers who experienced first-hand the violence, the Committee detailed the events that transpired at the Capitol that day. The violence was initiated by the far right Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, while former President Donald Trump lit the flame for the insurrection, and then refused to stop it.
Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-MS) proved himself quite capable of leading the committee, but the star of the hearing was Vice Chair Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) who proved that she had the courage to speak the truth even if it meant the end of her congressional career. My favorite part of her opening statement was her message to fellow Republicans:
|Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY)|
In our country, we don’t swear an oath to an individual, or a political party. We take our oath to defend the United States Constitution. And that oath must mean something. Tonight, I say this to my Republican colleagues who are defending the indefensible: There will come a day when Donald Trump is gone, but your dishonor will remain.
Cheney may well lose her August primary to a Trump-backed opponent. But there would be no dishonor in such a loss. Indeed, the dishonor will belong to Colorado's Republican voters who will have voted against Cheney because she had the courage and integrity to tell the truth.
Another star of last night's hearing, no doubt a reluctant one, was former Vice President Mike Pence. When the Capitol came under violent attack, Capitol Police were quickly overwhelmed. They desperately needed National Guard backup, which was under the authority of the President of the United States, to protect the members of Congress performing their official role counting the electoral votes. Despite repeated pleas, Trump refused to activate the DC national guard, so Pence stepped into the vacuum and ordered the guard activated to protect American democracy. Pence deserves criticism for his refusal to stand up against the worst of Donald Trump during his four years in office, but on January 6th he did the right thing, calling in the National Guard and announcing Joe Biden had won sufficient electoral votes to become President of the United States.
The final star of the evening was Capitol Police Officer Caroline Edwards who detailed for the committee and viewing public the violence law enforcement officers experienced that day. When the violent crowd surged forward past a bike rack that was her only line of defense, Edwards was shoved backwards, hitting her head on the concrete steps and being knocked unconscious. Edwards eventually came to and went back into battle to defend the Capitol. She was injured again and has injuries from which she still suffers.
Edwards displayed a courage that should make all Americans proud.