Commemorating January 6th.
December 29, 2021
[The audio version of today’s edition is here.]
The insurrectionists of January 6th weaponized deceit, disinformation, and baseless conspiracies in their assault on democracy. They attempted to shroud their violence in the cloak of patriotism and confuse their followers about the plain language and clear intent of the Constitution. They incited their followers with grotesque lies so unbelievable that every lawsuit based on those lies was dismissed at the first opportunity. Senators and Representatives abandoned the Constitution in its hour of need by invoking fantasies of voter fraud peddled by conmen and carnival barkers. The alleged fraud had already been disproven dozens of times before their treachery and has been disproven dozens of times since. And yet, the lies that ignited the insurrection are given oxygen every day by Fox entertainers posing as journalists and members of Congress posing as patriots. The latter repeat their slander against the Constitution from the floor of the Capitol, which still bears physical wounds from their assault on democracy on January 6th.
The insurrection was born of lies and flickers yet among embers of deceit. To douse the lies, we must shine the light of truth on January 6th—which is exactly what the House Select Committee plans to do. Good! See Talking Points Memo, “Jan. 6 Panel Reportedly Planning Dramatic Presentations On Trumpworld’s Big Lie Actions.” Per TPM, the Select Committee will hold a series of public hearings over the next nine months to “tell the [story] from start to finish” while focusing on “big picture” items for context.
The strategy is brilliant. The Committee will issue a series of reports documenting its findings. Few Americans will read those reports. But tens of millions of Americans will watch dramatic testimony from the hearings that will bring to life the violence and treason of the coup plotters and insurrectionists. Importantly, the hearings and the reports of the Committee will become the historical record of the insurrection in the same way that the Watergate Hearings serve as the definitive record of Nixon’s crimes. Americans seeking justice and accountability for Trump and his co-conspirators can take comfort in knowing that the Select Committee is thinking strategically about how best to educate the nation about the truth of January 6th.
Two other developments regarding the insurrection deserve comment. First, some in the media (I am looking at you, headline writers) botched a story about the Committee’s request for documents from the National Archives relating to the insurrection. PBS News Hour reported in a headline that “Jan. 6 committee agrees to defer request for Trump administration records.” While that may sound like a setback for the Committee, it is not. As explained in the text of the article, the Biden administration has reviewed the Committee’s request for documents and waived any claim of executive privilege as to documents relating directly to the events of January 6th. But the Committee’s request was broad and swept in documents dated January 6th that were not related to the insurrection and that otherwise deserve the protections of executive privilege. The Committee agreed to abide by the Biden’s administration’s determinations of executive privilege. That deference shows a cooperative working relationship between the Committee and the Biden administration, not adversity of interests.
Secondly, a federal district judge rejected a First Amendment defense by members of the Proud Boys to charges of obstruction of an official proceeding. See CNN Politics, “Proud Boys: Judge rejects First Amendment claims in January 6 case.” The ruling by Judge Timothy Kelly (a Trump appointee) is here. Judge Kelly’s ruling is the fourth in a string of decisions that uphold the use of the felony charge of “obstruction of an official proceeding” against insurrectionists who entered the Capitol on January 6th. Although Trump did not enter Capitol that day, he incited others to do so. Every ruling validating the use of the “obstruction of an official proceeding” charge chips away at similar defenses that Trump might raise (assuming that Merrick Garland will allow the DOJ to investigate and indict Trump).
The DOJ is not prohibited from commenting on the existence of an investigation into the leaders of the insurrection.
In discussions with readers about the silence from the DOJ about any investigation into Trump, readers frequently assert that the DOJ is prohibited from commenting on ongoing investigations. That is not exactly true. In fact, we can all recall events where the DOJ held press conferences and announced that it was conducting investigations to identify the perpetrators of crimes, e.g., the Oklahoma City Bombing and the terrorist attacks on 9/11. While it is the general rule that the DOJ does not comment on ongoing investigations, Rule 1-7.400(C) of the DOJ Justice Manual says,
When the community needs to be reassured that the appropriate law enforcement agency is investigating a matter . . . confirmation of an ongoing investigation may be necessary, subject to the approval [the Attorney General].
There can be no more compelling instance in which the Attorney General should make the exception authorized above. Trump continues to promote the lies that incited the insurrection and there is widespread fear that he will try again. The silence of the DOJ is undermining the trust of the American people in the rule of law. This is a moment in time like no other; it is clear that “the community needs to be reassured that the appropriate law enforcement agency is investigating” the leaders of the insurrection, not merely those foot soldiers caught on videotape inside the Capitol.
January 6th Events to Commemorate the Triumph of Democracy
In response to my request for reader input on events to commemorate the victory of democracy on January 6th, the most frequently cited resource was to Defend Democracy’s impressive website, which lists hundreds of in-person and virtual events. Volunteer Opportunities, Events, and Petitions Near Me · Defend Democracy. You can use the “Filter” function to search among the events by type (in-person or virtual), location, sponsoring organization, and activity! Everyone should be able to find an event to commemorate January 6th regardless of your circumstance. Of particular note are opportunities to register voters, send postcards, phonebank, textbank, and attend vigils across the nation. Kudos to Defend Democracy for creating such a sophisticated and exhaustive listing.
Other readers recommended the following specific activities / organizations hosting activities on January 6th:
Field Team 6 is hosting a nationwide virtual postcard writing event focused on flippable districts.
We the People has created a site that focuses on vigils, voter registration, and passing voting rights legislation. See We the People: January 6th Day of Remembrance and Action. Note that you can still sign up to host a vigil!
A group is hosting a vigil at Senator Tom Tillis’s at 310 Bern Avenue, Raleigh, NC at 11:30 AM Eastern. Per the reader, “You can register at this link, or just come.” Democracy Vigils, Federal Building / Senator Tom Tillis's Office.
For those in Los Angeles, there will be vigil at the Federal Building in Westwood (11000 Wilshire Blvd) at 5:00 to 7:00 PM Pacific. Register here.
The Contra Costa Civic Theater is hosting a Zoom presentation of a reading of “Running for My Life,” which is based on interviews with twenty-three women Representatives who were in the House on January 6th. “Their recollections form the narrative for this powerful and unique insight into recent events.” Tickets are free, but a donation is suggested for the theater’s education program.
Upcoming Podcast of Today’s Edition with 31st Street Swing Left
Listen and participate in a live podcast as Robert Hubbell interviews Jim Shelton and Lisa Herrick of 31st Street Swing Left, a highly effective grassroots organization dedicated to identifying the best opportunities to gain or maintain control of state legislatures and Congress. Details: Sunday, January 2, 2022 at 2:00 PM Eastern / 11:00 AM Pacific, Today's Edition Podcast with 31st Street Swing Left. Download the Callin App from the Apple Store to participate live. (Android version coming soon.) A recording of the podcast will be included in next Monday’s newsletter (available to anyone with a phone or computer).
Truth matters. Sometimes, it hurts. On other occasions, it is inconsistent with our political views. But we should always be open to the truth so that we can make informed decisions—even those against our self-interest. There is much we do not know about how best to contain the coronavirus pandemic. But we know that vaccinations dramatically reduce the severity of illness and the frequency of death. Fox News and the Republican Party ignore that truth, confusing their followers with assertions that the vaccines are not “100% effective” and cause side-effects. That is true of every vaccine ever developed and is no excuse to dissuade vaccination against the coronarvirus.
Studies discussed in the NYTimes strongly suggest that the partisan lies about vaccinations have increased the death rate among white Americans—who form the solid core of Trump’s base. See NYTimes, “Why Covid Death Rates Are Rising for Some Groups.” The article is packed with data and nuance, but here are two paragraphs that should shock all Ameircans:
The change in death rates among groups is starker by race and ethnicity, and the death rate has risen particularly sharply for middle-aged white people. Covid-19 now accounts for a much larger share of all deaths for that group than it did before vaccines were widely available.
States with lower vaccination rates tend to have had higher Covid-19 death rates, particularly from the most recent wave of Delta variant infections, which hit the South the hardest.
There is room for debate about the reason for the increase in the death rate due to Covid among middle-aged white Americans in the South. The most reasonable interpretation is that the anti-vaccination campaign among Trump’s base being waged by Fox News and the GOP is killing people.
Whether we can reverse the damage done by vaccination disinformation is unclear. But you are in a position to know the truth—and act accordingly. The current resurgence of the coronavirus is exhausting, inconvenient, divisive, and deadly. Do the right thing. Protect yourself in whatever ways you can.
Talk to you tomorrow!
Want more? Check out these Today’s Edition Podcasts with Robert Hubbell:
12/18/2021: Interview with Jessica Craven of Chop Wood Carry Water
12/26/2021: Holiday Party and Year-end Review