The Jan. 6 hearings are over. These three things must happen now

By | October 15, 2022

Norman Eisen, Danielle Brian and E. Danya Perry write:

On Thursday, in what was probably its final public hearing before the election, the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol revealed new details about former President Donald Trump. Those details included Secret Service records documenting his determination to join a mob he knew was armed and headed for violence.

The hearings have provided an indispensable record of an attempted coup that failed but that, as Representative Liz Cheney pointed out, threatens to recur. As the committee waits for the (unlikely) testimony of Mr. Trump, the torch now passes to other actors who hold the power to achieve accountability for the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol — and to prevent another one from happening.

This task fits into three key areas.

Potential Disqualification

The added proof of Mr. Trump’s involvement in the events of Jan. 6 renews the question of whether elections officials and courts can disqualify him from holding public office under the Constitution. Section 3 of the 14th Amendment provides for the disqualification from office of any person who has “engaged in insurrection or rebellion against” the United States or who has “given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.”

The prospect of Mr. Trump being disqualified may sound unlikely, but it is not fanciful — a New Mexico county commissioner who participated in the Jan. 6 insurrection was recently removed on just this basis.

On the question of whether Mr. Trump engaged in insurrection, the evidence presented throughout the hearings suggests that he knew the mob was armed when he riled them up on Jan. 6, wanted the magnetometers (metal detectors) to be taken down, expressed a wish to join the mob at the Capitol and then cheered the insurrectionists on while watching the violence on television. It also includes evidence referenced on Thursday that he singled out Vice President Mike Pence in a tweet after knowing of the violence underway.

It is also fair to ask whether Mr. Trump’s actions provided “aid and comfort” to insurrectionists. That prospect is reinforced by his failure to act for 187 minutes, despite pleas from advisers, while the mob ran rampant. Indeed, he offered repeated words of support that day to the mob, tweeting, when the mob finally began dispersing, “These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long.”

For disqualification, voters would start the process by filing petitions to keep Mr. Trump off the ballot; elected officials and courts would then act on them. [Continue reading…]