Hearings and “Heroes”
The Jan. 6 Hearings and setting a standard
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Below is my new piece about “heroes” and January 6 — you can scroll down to read that now…
The Jan. 6 Report
As I’ve mentioned on The Beat, Harper Collins is publishing the official January 6 Committee Report, featuring my foreword with an accounting of Trump’s coup conspiracy. You can order the Report now at this link:
New Essay: On Hearings and “Heroes”
Congress is holding its final Jan. 6 hearing.
These hearings have broken through — reaching tens of millions of Americans, highlighting new, key witnesses, and clearly shaping public understanding and the prosecutorial to the insurrection.
Some of the most vital witnesses were in the Trump White House, or close to efforts to steal the election. Some important players resisted those efforts, whether they testified or not.
As this investigative process reaches a conclusion, however, it is important to distinguish between real heroes and people simply following the law — which is supposed to be a bare minimum in government service.
Now, there were heroes on January 6. Police officers. First responders. And people in and out of government who risked their careers, or more, to defend democracy.
People who cooperated with subpoenas to testify, rather than risk indictment, however — that is not “courageous,” or particularly special. So while one may “get” the temptation to dramatically praise the witnesses who have upended and exposed Trump’s coup plots, it’s important to stick to the facts. And not get carried away. And most of the political witnesses at these hearings acted out of self-interest, often slowly, to provide legally required testimony under subpoena. (Defying this committee has already led to the conviction of one Trump veteran, Steve Bannon, who now awaits jail sentencing.)
A “Medal of Freedom” for Mike Pence?
One key witness was Trump White House counsel Pat Cipollone.
He resisted cooperating for months, citing privilege claims. (Those claims were partially valid and partially overblown, in a nutshell — and his testimony ultimately showed he could indeed cooperate without breaking valid parts of potential privilege.) Liz Cheney publicly pressured and shamed Cipollone, and facing legal pressure he ultimately testified, and shared some pretty damning accounts.
As for the hero talk, Cipollone took the Beltway praise of the bare minimum to its extreme, extending a theme that’s continued for months.
As just about everyone now knows, Trump pushed Mike Pence to help stage a (clumsy) coup on January 6, illegally demanded that Pence “reject” Biden’s win, or delay it, or just “declare” Trump the winner.
That would be unconstitutional and without precedent. Most experts, including Pence’s conservative lawyers, viewed it as a farce that would fail that day, or be rejected in court.
So unlike some Trump lawyers, who’ve gotten themselves in trouble, Pence rejected this pressure to put himself in legal jeopardy. He followed the law. He did not join an illegal coup. That was the only legal option available. It was what his lawyers strongly counseled. It was in his own self-interest.
Now, here’s what Cipollone testified:
I think the Vice President did the right thing… the courageous thing.
I think he did a great service to this country, and I think I suggested to somebody that [Pence] should be given the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his actions.”
If the standard for the Medal of Freedom has been lowered to literally just not joining a violent coup, or not breaking the law, then hundreds of millions of people would quality.
The U.S. honors certain actions and people in order to set a standard — and we need a much higher standard, especially right now.
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Elon and Spike
And to read some of my other writing from this newsletter… you can check out the pieces below… I explain more about this newsletter here — thank you you for your interest and supporting my work! - Ari
I object. Pence was the consummate enabler for 4 years; that he found God on January 6 doesn't wipe his complicity away. No Medal of Honor for Pence.
Ari you are the bomb! And have a great taste in ties. I nominate you the Mayor of NYC, Supreme Court Justice , oh hell continue educating us. Thank you for all you do!