The U.S. House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol announced on September 27, 2022, that due to Hurricane Ian, it is postponing the hearing originally scheduled for September 28. The committee will announce a postponed hearing date soon.
If there is no accountability for Jan. 6—for every part of this scheme—I fear that we will not overcome the ongoing threat to our democracy.
Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS)
This month, the U.S. House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol will resume public hearings. The committee, led by Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-MS) and Vice Chair Liz Cheney (R-WY), has already laid out a detailed presentation of evidence that shows the wide-ranging conspiracy that led to the deadly insurrection and that continues to threaten our democracy. The evidence shows that this was a multifaceted conspiracy orchestrated by former President Donald Trump and his extremist MAGA allies to nullify the votes of millions of Americans and block the peaceful transfer of presidential power. The evidence also confirms that Trump’s “big lie” about a stolen election was just that: a massive act of deception aimed at fraudulently remaining in power.
As committee members prepare for a new series of hearings and head toward the conclusion of their investigation, we can expect to hear from more witnesses, learn new information about what led to the attack, and better understand how this ongoing threat to our democracy is alive and spreading. In addition, the committee is preparing a report that should include findings and recommend actions to ensure that this type of attack cannot recur, while also addressing the persistent threats to our democracy illustrated through the investigation of the attack.
Trump, with help from his extremist MAGA allies, came dangerously close to executing a coup—remaining in power despite losing an election—which would have been a horrendous first in American history. The committee’s investigation has exposed the criminals and liars at the heart of this conspiracy as well as the ongoing threats to our democracy that aim to take away our broader freedoms.
This cannot happen again. We must hold those responsible accountable.
Trump and his allies led a multifaceted conspiracy to overturn the election
The initial January 6 hearings presented shocking evidence on how Trump and his allies planned, promoted, and paid for this conspiracy. While the attack on the Capitol took place on January 6, the evidence shows Trump and his allies plotted to overturn the election for months, with a strategy laid out in briefings, memos, and PowerPoints.
- American voters democratically elected Joe Biden on November 3, 2020. Yet rather than honor the election results, Donald Trump launched a conspiracy to remain in power and overturn the election.
- The former president and his MAGA allies threatened state election officials who refused to break the law and even schemed to replace them with fake electors. This was—and still is—a concerted effort to undermine Americans’ right to vote and to choose their leaders.
- Trump repeatedly asked the U.S. Department of Justice to launch an investigation into nonexistent election fraud and publicly ran a campaign against Vice President Mike Pence for refusing to sabotage the valid election results. Trump was told repeatedly that these activities were impossible and illegal; he did them anyway.
- In a last attempt to block the peaceful transition of power, Donald Trump summoned a mob to Washington, D.C. He invited his supporters to the White House on January 6 while fully aware of their plan to storm the U.S. Capitol. When they marched to the building, many did so heavily armed and under the impression the president would be joining them.
- The January 6 insurrection was filled with carnage and chaos. It was a violent attack by extremists, emboldened by white supremacy. All the while, the president sat, watched, and refused to call for help, despite repeated pleas from his top advisers and members of Congress. In fact, testimony revealed he expressed support for the crowd’s chants for the vice president to be hanged after Pence upheld the U.S. Constitution.
- This nefarious conspiracy ruined the lives of many proud Americans. Lifelong election workers, public servants, and police officers were all detrimentally affected by the MAGA plot and its consequences, with some losing their lives.
- Members of Congress, far-right groups, Trump administration officials, and the president himself all participated in the conspiracy. Many of those MAGA extremists continue to peddle dangerous disinformation about voter fraud. At every level, MAGA extremism is a threat to our democracy.
These hearings must serve as a warning for what may lie ahead
Trump and MAGA extremists will continue trying to seize power regardless of the outcome of an election. They are already passing state laws to make it easier to overturn election results and make it harder for people—especially people of color—to vote. Expect them to continue to change state laws, threaten state and local officials, spread disinformation, use violence, and pack election administration offices so that they can have the final say over election results. If they don’t like the results, they have made clear they will change the rules.
The Center for American Progress has proposed many recommendations that would help deter the ongoing attacks on democracy. Here are some of the ways to fight these threats:
- People involved in Trump’s conspiracy must be held accountable:
- All lawbreakers must be prosecuted. Donald Trump must not be able to escape punishment merely because of his status as a former president.
- MAGA extremists in Congress—many of whom reportedly asked Trump for presidential pardons—should be fully investigated and held accountable under the law.
- Lawmakers must protect U.S. election systems so that voters are the only ones deciding who their leaders are:
- Congress must update and pass relevant federal laws to help reduce the chance of a successful presidential coup and to protect the right to vote, including an update to the Electoral Count Act.
- Where possible, states should update and pass laws that fortify free and fair elections, protect the right to vote, and guard against election sabotage by partisan actors.
- Elected officials should stand up for free and fair elections, uphold the law, and actively defend democracy.
- Steps must be taken to counter disinformation and other mechanisms that help create violent white supremacists.
- Election workers and volunteers must be protected from threats so that they can safely and effectively do their jobs.
The initial January 6 hearings have already exposed much of Trump’s brazen scheme to block the peaceful transfer of power. However, the American people deserve to know the whole truth. The final hearings and subsequent report should shine more light on how MAGA extremists organized this violent attack on our democracy, as well as recommend ways to hold those involved accountable. Without accountability, they may do it again.
Follow CAP on Twitter as coverage of the hearings of the U.S. House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol resumes September 28.