Did the January 6 committee finish Trump?

By | December 19, 2022

Ed Kilgore writes:

The tenth and final public hearing of the House select committee on January 6 didn’t break much new ground or provide any sensational new revelations besides confirming reports that it would refer Donald Trump to the Justice Department for criminal prosecution. Depending on what does indeed happen to the accused, the legacy of the committee, and its skillful leadership by Bennie Thompson and Liz Cheney, may well be found in the political if not legal consequences of its findings. In combination with the unsatisfying midterm elections for Republicans and Trump’s partial responsibility for them, the accumulated “Trump fatigue,” and the shadow of the jailhouse that now looms over the 45th president, it’s increasingly possible his accumulated problems will convince his party to look elsewhere for a 2024 presidential nominee.

Here are some final takeaways:

The hearings probably didn’t affect the midterms but might very much affect the next election.
There isn’t much evidence that the committee’s more explosive findings or their skillful dissemination in the hearings had any tangible effect on this year’s elections (as it was widely assumed they were designed to). The findings weren’t discussed much by either Democratic or Republican candidates, though it’s unlikely that threats to democracy would have become a major campaign theme without the committee’s work. Yes, to the extent that Republican underperformance in the midterms may have been partially attributable to swing voters unhappy with MAGA extremism, the committee’s findings may have also contributed materially to that impression. But the committee seemed to be more concerned with what might happen after the midterms to Trump and his criminal associates.

Testimony secured by the committee from an extraordinary number of previously loyal Trump subordinates attesting to the consciously unlawful and deceitful nature of his conduct over many months provides a bright-line guide for Republicans to dump Trump as a future presidential candidate. That will certainly be useful to potential rivals.

Indeed, the desire to decisively rule out a Trump comeback probably explains the remarkable consolidation of support forming in favor of Florida governor Ron DeSantis if he chooses to challenge a restoration. Ultimately, Trump’s fate will be determined by his own bad conduct and the vagaries of the legal system, but the committee may have assembled his baggage into an especially heavy burden. [Continue reading…]

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