January 6 Committee’s Damning Final Report on Donald Trump Should Blow Away the GOP’s Desperate Attempts to Discredit It

Even after 10 public hearings, the January 6 committee still has plenty to say. Its sprawling, 845-page final report contains a number of new revelations about Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss, including a warning from attorney John Eastman, in an email, that the former president had made “inaccurate” claims in a court document. It adds to its already damning case against Trump, whom they referred to the Justice Department this week for four charges of federal offenses. And it makes a number of recommendations to safeguard against another insurrection—including a call for Congress to ban Trump, the “central cause” of the 2021 attack, from ever holding public office again. “None of the events of January 6th would have happened without him,” the committee wrote at the top of its executive summary. 

But the committee’s final report also serves another purpose, beyond expanding on its extensive account of the former president’s attack on democracy: It serves as a bulwark against efforts by Trump, his allies, and Capitol Hill Republicans to discredit the panel’s work. 

Throughout the bipartisan investigation into the insurrection, the panel and those who cooperated with it were subjected to constant smears and threats from Trumpworld; even on Thursday, as the final report was published, Trump railed against the “unselect committee,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and the “Government of the United States” in a series of unhinged social media posts. Trump allies also appeared to obstruct and influence the probe, as former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson indicated in testimony released by the committee Thursday. 

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These tactics—intimidation and “flooding the zone with shit,” as Steve Bannon would put it—have worked for Trump in the past. But the committee, in its sweeping report, goes to notable lengths to clear the zone. 

In its executive summary—itself the length of a short novel—the panel acknowledges that “millions of Americans still lack the information necessary to understand and evaluate what President Trump has told them about the election” and that some “news outlets and commentators have actively discouraged viewers from watching, and that millions of other Americans have not yet seen the actual evidence addressed by this Report.” The report not only outlines the committee’s findings, as lawmakers did in this year’s hearings, but allows the public to get a peek inside its exhaustive process—a rebuke, it would seem, to Kevin McCarthy’s vow to investigate the investigators when Republicans take control of the House next year. McCarthy, who opposed the committee, was also one of the 139 Republican House members who voted to overturn the election results in the hours after the January 6 attack.

“If this Select Committee has accomplished one thing, I hope it has shed light on how dangerous it would be to empower anyone whose desire for authority comes before their commitment to American democracy and the Constitution,” Chairman Bennie Thompson said in a foreword to the report. “I believe most Americans will turn their backs on those enemies of democracy.”

The committee also preempts Trump’s claims that the investigation was “highly partisan” by making clear that virtually all of its witnesses were Republicans and current or former employees and allies of the former president. In four pages listing those who testified, there is only one Democrat listed: Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, who told the panel of how pro-Trump protestors stood outside her home with bullhorns, trumpeting their leader’s election lies. “We decided that the vast majority of our witnesses needed to be Republicans,” Ranking Member Liz Cheney, one of two GOP lawmakers on the panel, wrote in her foreword. “They were.”

To read the report is not only to confront the extraordinary lengths Trump went to try to overturn his loss to Joe Biden, but to be reminded of how painstaking the investigation into that coup attempt was. That may not matter to those who still believe in Trump’s conspiracy theories—or to the Republicans who still try to profit politically from them, and who are sure to wave away many of the committee’s recommendations when they assume control of the House next month. As Thompson writes in his foreword to the report, “Some will rally to the side of the election deniers.” The hope, as the committee concludes its work, is that most do not, and that the fever of Trumpism will finally start to break.

“​​Our country has come too far to allow a defeated President to turn himself into a successful tyrant by upending our democratic institutions, fomenting violence, and, as I saw it, opening the door to those in our country whose hatred and bigotry threaten equality and justice for all Americans,” Thompson wrote. “We can never surrender to democracy’s enemies.”

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