Tuesday, March 21

Editorial: A question for Trump supporters. After eight Jan. 6 hearings, haven’t you seen enough?

After the eighth House select committee hearing on the Jan. 6 riots wrapped on Thursday night, we have one simple question for Donald Trump supporters. For those who still view him as a patriot, a leader, a front-runner — or even a viable candidate at all — for the 2024 Republican nomination: Have you seen enough to change your mind?

Did you think Trump was just playing to the crowd when he promised in his speech to the rioters that day to lead them down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol building? Did you understand he was fully serious when it was revealed he had an angry confrontation with his Secret Service detail after they refused to chauffeur him there? Did you raise your eyebrows when an unnamed witness told the committee that Trump had direct knowledge that members of the crowd that day were armed?

Did you find it suspicious that Trump sat in his sofa in the White House dining room, blocked off his call log and daily diary for several hours, refused to have official photographs taken of him, and spent hours watching the Capitol under siege on Fox News?

Did the petrified voices of agents on the Secret Service radio channels move you? Did you shift in your seats when – as recalled by a White House security official – the men and women whose job it is to literally take a bullet for Vice President Mike Pence feared for their lives and were placing goodbye calls to family members as the seditious mob encroached on them?

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“There was a lot of yelling,” the official told the committee. “A lot of very personal calls over the radio, so it was disturbing. I don’t like talking about it, but there were calls to say goodbye to family members, so on and so forth.”

Did you scratch your head when, roughly one hour into the insurrection, Trump tweeted a video of his speech to the mob, implicitly endorsing the lawlessness and violence?

Did you question why he didn’t listen to repeated entreaties from his White House staff – including his own daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner – to make a public statement condemning the attacks and telling the mob to disperse? Did you cringe when he resisted even posting a simple tweet saying “Stay peaceful”?

Did you think Trump was a strong commander-in-chief when he declined to make a single call to the heads of any law enforcement or national security agency to prevent the Capitol from being destroyed? Did you wonder why it fell to Pence, sequestered somewhere in the Capitol after nearly being murdered, to give “direct and unambiguous orders” for the military to intervene? “You’re the commander in chief,” Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the committee in video testimony played Thursday night. “You’ve got an assault going on on the Capitol of the United States of America. Nothing? No call? Nothing? Zero?”

Did you shake your head when the committee showed text message pleas from Trump’s favorite Fox News personalities – Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, and Brian Kilmeade – calling on the president to tell the mob to go home? What about when Trump’s own son, Donald Jr., implored White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to “go to the mattresses” to get his father to condemn the coup attempt?

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Did your loyalty to Trump waver when it was revealed that even Kevin McCarthy, the House minority leader and a Trump sycophant, begged him multiple times on the phone to call off the insurrectionists? Did you believe Trump upheld his oath of office when he told McCarthy: “Well, Kevin, I guess they’re just more upset about the election theft than you are.”

Did it shock you that Trump went off script while taping a video statement on the Capitol attack in the Rose Garden? Did you wonder how someone who just spent hours watching rioters assault police officers, break windows and threaten violence against lawmakers could tell those same people they were special and that he loved them?

Did you think twice when Trump tweeted at 6 p.m. that night that the violence was a justified and natural reaction to his baseless claims of a “landslide” election victory?

Did you finally understand Trump’s smallness, his inability to rise to the moment and show even a shred of leadership when, even the day after the Capitol riots, he still pointedly declined to admit defeat? Did you recoil at the outtakes from Trump’s taped address when he angrily told a teleprompter operator to edit out a phrase conceding that the election was over? “I don’t want to say the election is over,” he says with all the petulance of a child refusing to acknowledge bedtime has arrived.

These questions should be at the front of every conversation about Trump and the 2024 presidential election. Whether Trump ever ends up in an orange jumpsuit or not, the committee’s work has left the idea of him as a viable candidate for election in tatters. “When he turned on VP Mike Pence … that was the moment for me. The turning point,” Texas State Rep. Jeff Leach, R-Plano, said as the hearings played last night. “And all I need to know we Republicans need someone else running for President in 2024.”

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After Thursday’s hearings, we wonder how any American voter who watched the hearings could disagree.

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