How Jan. 6 committee hearings set up a stunning primetime finale

On Tuesday, after weeks of providing fragmented evidence and detailed testimony to show how the Trump administration propagated the big lie and contributed to a violent insurgency, the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the US Capitol presented a compelling schedule with a clear intention: Building on a harrowing finale.

Like the penultimate installment of intense TV drama, Tuesday’s hearing began with a “Before on…” montage of flashbacks, continued the narrative, and then ended on a breathtaking cliffhanger. In the closing minutes of the three-hour hearing, Vice Chairwoman Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) dropped the hearing’s most tantalizing bombshell yet, saying former President Trump tried to call a committee witness and the committee shared that information with the submitted to the Ministry of Justice. Stay tuned.

This disciplined approach has allowed the hearings to be rescheduled with breaking news and new testimonies as needed, without losing momentum (see last month’s Cassidy Hutchinson questioning), while reducing the chaos surrounding the 2020 election and its aftermath to organize a compelling chronology of events. The structure is familiar to fans of series television — and with each public unveiling, the committee has only reinforced the expectation that there will be more surprises, like a room for veteran writers.

Sometimes falling by the wayside means reviewing what has happened, as was the case at the beginning of the show on Tuesday. The process began more slowly than usual, but Cheney was careful to connect the hearings to their real-time implications: “Today, there seems to be a general acknowledgment that the committee has identified important facts, including the fact that virtually every President is close to Trump.” Stands, his Justice Department officials, his White House advisers, his White House Attorney, his campaign, all told him the 2020 election was not stolen.”

Cheney said the new strategy appears to have been that he has been manipulated by outsiders to his administration like Sidney Powell. “In this version, the President, quote, was badly served by these outside advisers… This is nonsense, of course. President Trump is a 76-year-old man. He’s not an impressionable kid.” In fact, Trump’s attempt to make the pre-planned Jan. 6 march to the Capitol look like an impromptu decision was among Tuesday’s major takeaways.

A queasy comedy, part of many major TV dramas, it’s also gotten the most hearings, and usually centered around Rudolph W. Giuliani’s antics. It also featured on Tuesday, with testimonies of an “out of joint” Oval Office meeting in the weeks leading up to the riot, detailing events that were both shocking and ridiculous. In what other world besides Trump’s are “the guy from,” a disgraced general, and the White House chief of staff together on anything but a punch line?

That December 18, 2020 meeting, best described on MSNBC as “professionals versus conspiracy theorists,” was covered in vivid detail by recorded testimony from former White House Counsel Pat Cipollone and others. The gathering included Trump, Cipollone, and attorney and consultant Eric Herschmann, along with Powell, QAnon convert Michael Flynn, and for some reason the former CEO of Trump was still looking for ways to invalidate the election results; There were heated arguments and it lasted for hours. And of course Giuliani was around, describing White House officials who would disagree with the plan to overturn the election as “a bunch…” Well, you know what he said. class, as always.

Continuing the timeline, the committee then showed Trump pivoting out of legal impasses to goad the masses behind his efforts to stay in power, with several examples of how he weaponized social media to the end. At the Cheney-chaired hearing, Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.) and Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) delivered powerful, recorded testimony from a former Twitter employee the growing danger of far-right groups like white supremacist group Proud Boys and white nationalist organization The Oath Keepers using the internet to collect Trump’s vote-rigging lies.

The two living witnesses at the hearing embodied the impact of Trump’s calls for the masses to rally in Washington, DC and march to the Capitol. Jason Van Tatenhove, a former spokesman for the Oath Keepers, described how Trump paved the way for the militant group to use force. Former Trump supporter Stephen Ayres, who was arrested after breaching the Capitol during the attack, explained how he believed it when the president told him the election was stolen – and now feels fooled.

When asked if it would have made a difference if he knew that Trump knew the election wasn’t stolen, his answer was clear. Definitive.

If the committee can pull through to land in the prime-time finale, he won’t be alone. How Jan. 6 committee hearings set up a stunning primetime finale

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