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Trump’s Lessons for Defending the Rule of Law

With both interest in the US Capitol riots and perceptions of former President Donald Trump’s culpability declining, the House of Representatives’ January 6 Committee faces an uphill task. But by creating a compelling narrative and not relying solely on logical arguments, the panel is more likely to elicit moral engagement.

CAMBRIDGE – A new show currently airing gives fresh meaning to the term reality TV. Call it American Democracy: Clear and Present Danger. It should be required viewing.

Almost 18 months after the January 6, 2021, storming of the US Capitol, a House of Representatives select committee is publicizing the findings of its detailed investigation into the event. The committee has interviewed over 1,000 witnesses and examined 125,000 documents. It has held six hearings so far in June, with a view to trying to bring former President Donald Trump to justice.

Vice Chair Liz Cheney, the committee’s senior Republican (and one of only two GOP representatives willing to serve on it), summed up the panel’s conclusion: “President Trump summoned the mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack.” Showcasing evidence implicating the former president more directly in the insurrection than was previously known, the committee has documented his failure to call in National Guard units or additional police officers to help at the Capitol, and that he ignored his advisers’ pleas to ask his supporters to stand down. Trump appeared to be directly encouraging violence. The picture the committee paints is one of a premeditated attack on democracy, rather than a spontaneous crowd combustion.